Washington: A new study has found that seeing ultrasound images of their babies for the very first time is a "powerful and magical moment" for expectant fathers as it helps them bond with their child.
Tova Walsh, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, said that fathers' feelings about ultrasound images have rarely been studied, and prior studies have looked at fathers in Europe or Australia.
While all our fathers felt the mothers were receiving good care, about half of them felt excluded or ignored and wished that health care providers would offer them more explanation and opportunity to ask questions during the appointment, she said.
Because so much previous research shows that mothers and babies benefit when fathers are positively involved and supportive during pregnancy, they should feel welcome at an event that is their first interaction with the healthcare of the mother and baby, she said.
Walsh and colleagues at the University of Michigan interviewed 22 expectant fathers in Michigan in 2010. The fathers ranged in age from 23 to 41 years with mean age of 31 years.
Sixteen were married to the mothers and half were expecting their first child. Researchers interviewed the fathers after they viewed a routine ultrasound that was administered at 16 to 20 weeks into the pregnancy.
They found that the ultrasound experience was an important moment for men, establishing the reality of the coming child, and reassuring them that all was going well with the pregnancy.
It also caused the men to reflect on their roles in the life of mother and child, making it an important practical and psychological preparation for parenthood.
The study noted that the men's "plans and dreams alike extended beyond the immediate future of infancy and across the child's lifespan."
The researchers found that peer encouragement from other fathers was important in making them choose to be present for the ultrasound.
They also learned that the ultrasound experience was as powerful for experienced fathers as for first time dads. Reactions ranged from quiet excitement to euphoria.
The study is published in the journal Fathering.