Aims. This paper is a report on a study analysing the effect of the umbilical cord cutting experience on fathers’ emotional involvement with their infants.
Background. Participation in childbirth offers an opportunity for father and mother to share the childbirth experience, so it is vital that midwives improve the fathers’ participation in this event.
Design. A quasi-experimental study with a quantitative methodology was implemented.
Methods. One hundred and five fathers were recruited as part of a convenience sample in a Maternity Public Hospital in a Metropolitan City in Portugal, between January and May of 2008. The Bonding Scale, the Portuguese version of the ‘Mother-to-Infant Bonding Scale’ was used to evaluate the fathers’ emotional involvement with the neonate at different moments: before childbirth, first day after childbirth and first month after childbirth. After childbirth, the fathers were divided into three separate groups depending on their umbilical cord cutting experience.
Results. The results demonstrate that the emotional involvement between father and child tends to increase during the first days after childbirth and to decrease when evaluated 1 month after birth, for fathers who did not cut the umbilical cord. However, fathers who cut the umbilical cord demonstrate an improvement in emotional involvement 1 month later.
Conclusion. Results suggest that the umbilical cord cutting experience benefits the father’s emotional involvement with the neonate, supporting the benefits of his participation and empowerment in childbirth.