The Effects Of Father And Infant Interaction Of Father's Presence At Birth Or Exclusion Because Of Caesarean

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Counseling Psychology


Purpose. The purpose of the study was to determine what relationship, if any, exists between a father's presence at the moment of birth of his infant, or exclusion from this experience because of a caesarean delivery, and the actual interaction between father and infant at three months of age.Procedure. First time fathers volunteering for this study, along with their three month old infants were observed in a play situation in their own home. The frequency of occurrence of common interactive behaviors was recorded during a five minute observation period. In addition, an Infant-Parent Face to Face Interaction Rating Scale, Parental Activities Inventory and a demographic questionnaire were administered to a total of 40 father-mother-infant triads of mostly middle socioeconomic level.Findings. Of all behaviors directly observed between father and infant, only one, out of fourteen, looking away from infant differentiated the two groups of fathers. Natural childbirth fathers spent a greater period of time looking away from their infants than caesarean delivery fathers. On no measure did infants born by caesarean section respond any differently to their fathers than vaginally delivered infants.Natural childbirth fathers were rated on the Infant-Parent Interaction Rating Scale as engaging in a greater degree of infantized behavior and gameplaying behavior with their infants than caesarean childbirth fathers.Fathers of female infants reported spending more time in direct contact with their infants during the first 24 hours and first week following the birth than fathers of male infants.Conclusions. The results of this study do not substantiate the concept of father's presence at the moment of birth being a critical factor in the bonding process between father and infant. It may be concluded from the relative lack of differences between the groups that factors of the quality and quantity of early interaction are more important to the bond formed between father and infant. The few variables that did differ between the groups may be due primarily to the large number of variables (52) being tested. The present study confirms that parental attitudes of fathers are not directly related to parenting behaviors in any simple manner.


Psychology, Developmental

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