I found a good article on mothering.com that discusses the level of involvement fathers have had in pregnancy and childbirth throughout history. I found it to be very informative and interesting, and it raises some questions about our current traditions.
Click here for the complete article: Cracking the Couvade
Here's a small snippet of the article:
"In the 1800s, anthropologists started to document a strange phenomenon seen in other cultures across the world. They described fathers setting aside their weapons and sharp tools, wearing loose clothing, and doing nothing but lying in bed during the last stages of their partner’s pregnancy.
"This was far removed from men in our western European culture at the time, who sought to be distant and authoritarian with little emotional response to life or death. In the Victorian age, anthropologists, who were almost exclusively male, were embarrassed and even offended by the tribal birth rituals they encountered, and quick to attach their own meanings and interpretations, often describing men who participated in birth or childrearing as weak or savage.
"Nowadays, fathering has a very different meaning from mothering, which denotes an ongoing process of nurturing. In the book Manhood, Steve Biddulph suggests that for some, fathering might be reduced to “two minutes (in the back of a van)!” Fathers are often excluded from the build up to a birth and are later seen as the mother’s helper, rather than an equal parent. Despite gradual changes in paternity leave, society usually expects fathers to return to work as soon as possible following a birth, and prizes men who do this as, responsible."
Please take a few minutes to read this article. I'm really glad I did.