Becoming a parent - role of fathers during pregnancy

25 December 2020
Photo: Dina Oganova / UNFPA Georgia

“When you hear your child’s heartbeat on an ultrasound…I have a feeling that time stops, everything fades away around, and this is the only sound I can hear”. Says Lasha Koberidze, the future father, “at this moment it seems like losing yourself. It’s confusing what to feel - to be happy, or to feel responsibility, or express emotions. The sound is something exciting. So pleasant that I can’t even compare it to listening to the best music,” he added.

For Lasha, the fatherhood adventure started from the ultrasound room and since then, at every stage of his wife’s pregnancy, they attend antenatal visits together, plan childbirth, prepare themselves for parenting and talk about what their child will be like, what game will be her favourite and where they will travel together for the first time.

“In my imagination, I see her before the school age mostly - small, beautiful, brunette, with curly hair, teasing, restless, constantly talking; asking questions, too many questions that I need to comprehend and think about. I am sure she will love doing puzzles, board games, experimenting, and DIY.”

Lasha does his best to be prepared for the parenting experience and to share the responsibilities and pleasures of childcare equally with his wife.

“I watch YouTube videos; I watch other kids around me too. I ask my friends to share their opinions, I read books and I believe that all these will help me establish good relations between us, as a father and a daughter.”

Lasha’s case, however, is an exception. A study conducted in 2019 on “Men, Women, and Gender Relations in Georgia” reveals that future fathers see little or no role in the prenatal process. The same study shows that about 1 in 2 fathers have accompanied the mother of their child to antenatal care visits. Of those, about half sat in the waiting room, and about a quarter dropped their partners off at the entrance.

Sharing the experience of fathers shows that men who are actively involved in raising a child are more productive at work, and much happier in their personal relationships. Consequently, their children also grow up in a healthier environment. Lasha’s case is similar, as he says himself, the expectations related to fatherhood and thinking about the child makes him a better person.

“When I come home from work, I always talk to her. I often read fairy tales to her too. I know at this point she can hear my voice and it is so fulfilling. I know that she will feel peaceful and protected while hearing my voice. It’s good for me too, it makes me feel confident and happy.”

Photo: Dina Oganova / UNFPA Georgia

Studies suggest that most men want to be a good father, but deep-rooted gender norms and underestimating the role of men by the state and health systems in the lives of their partners and children makes this even less possible.

In order to strengthen the role of fathers and eliminate this problem, at the initiative of the UNFPA Georgia Country Office, a parenting support program Papa School will be launched from next year. The Papa School is a safe space that will allow fathers and future fathers to develop the skills they need to engage as active parents and caring partners, and contribute towards eliminating harmful gender norms.

“For many years now, UNFPA Georgia Country Office has been actively working to get more men to support gender equality, non-violent relationships, equal partnerships and parenting. We are pleased that there is a growing number of supporters of the MenCare campaign we have initiated, and we are directly taking part in the most important social change that we believe will lead to the formation of a completely different society. The Fathers’ School is another step forward on this path and we hope that our new initiative supported by the European Union, which we will implement together with our partners, will assist many young families,” says Lela Bakradze, Head of the UNFPA Georgia Country Office.

The initiative is implemented under the framework of the programme EU 4 Gender Equality: Together Against Gender Stereotypes and Gender-Based Violence, implemented jointly by UN Women and UNFPA, with the generous support of the European Union.