Project Genesis

Father’s Role in the Delivery of a Child

What is the role of the father at the delivery of his child?

It seems that, historically, the father (or any male for that matter) had very little to do in the delivery of a child, and was most likely not even in the delivery room. In fact, until relatively recently, that continued to be the standard practice in hospitals.

Generally, the Torah authorities discouraged the presence of the father in the delivery room for two main reasons: Firstly, a woman in delivery is considered to be ritually impure. In such a state, her husband may not touch her, or look at the parts of her body that are typically covered (i.e. upper legs, shoulders, etc). Secondly, it is always prohibited to look directly at a woman’s private parts. Many rabbis were concerned that, in the excitement and confusion of a delivery room, one might transgress these prohibitions.

Nevertheless, many great authorities allowed for the father to be in the delivery room if the wife requests it and care is taken with regards to these prohibitions. That certainly seems to be the accepted and widespread practice today (at least in America).

In the case where the father is the only one present to assist his wife in the childbirth (i.e. there is no doctor/midwife present), the situation is considered life-threatening and the husband must participate in whatever capacity necessary to ensure a healthy outcome.

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