FATHER AND CHILDBIRTH: An Anthropological Perspective


  • H. K. Heggenhougen

    Corresponding author
      H. K. Heggenhougen, P.O. Box 65015, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
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    • H. K. Heggenhougen is a medical anthropologist on secondment from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to the Muhimbili Medical Centre in Dar es Salaam, where he is teaching and working with village health workers. His interests are in health care development and in formulating alternate approaches for health care services. He has conducted research in Malaysia including a study of traditional treatment of heroin addicts. He has worked with Nurse Practitioners in Texas and New York and studied the use of peasant health workers in Guatemala and Physicians Assistants in the USA. The present article was written subsequent to the author's participation at the birth of his daughter.

  • A version of this paper was presented at an Annual Meeting of the Southwestern Anthropological Association. The views expressed are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of the institution with which he is affiliated

H. K. Heggenhougen, P.O. Box 65015, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania


In a cross-cultural discussion of the participation of the father in the birth of his child, couvade, is discussed as a specific example of such participation. The current trend in the United States in favor of “natural childbirth” and the use of psychoprophylaxis is discussed. The paper lends support to the social, psychological, and physical value of the father's participation in childbirth.