Father-Infant Bonding Attitudes and the Effects of Umbilical Cord Cutting at Delivery

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Ashley Scism, DNP
Gordon E. Inman College of Health Science and Nursing, Belmont University, Nashville, TN, USA
Linda Wofford, DNP
Gordon E. Inman College of Health Sciences & Nursing, Belmont University, Nashville, TN, USA
David Wyant, PhD, MA,
Jack C Massey College of Business, Belmont University, Nashville, TN, USA

Purpose: To examine fathers’ attitude on bonding based on their experiences of either participating in routine umbilical cord-cutting or not. Background: The establishment of successful early father-infant bonding has a significant impact on the infant’s growth and development. In the last five years, there have been a limited number of studies performed in the United States documenting interventions that promote early father-infant bonding. Review of Evidence: Active participation of the father in labor and delivery rituals is essential in facilitating the process of early father-infant bonding. When fathers lack guidance during participation in labor and delivery rituals, feelings of frustration, resentment, and alienation are commonly reported. More research was needed to examine the act of umbilical cord cutting on promoting early father-infant bonding. Theoretical Framework: Theoretical components of Becoming a Mother united with qualitative themes of becoming an involved father served as the theoretical framework. The selection of BAM theory to support early father-infant bonding captures the dynamic transformation and evolvement of fathers after childbirth. The application of the adjusted theory provides a framework for childbirth healthcare providers to empower and support fathers during the birth process, which is an opportune time to establish early father-infant bonding. Project Design: A quasi-experimental post-test only design was employed to examine the differences between fathers’ bonding emotions from the immediate postpartum period to one month after delivery. Method: A purposive sampling method was employed to recruit fathers who met key inclusion criteria. The bonding emotions were assessed using the Mother-to-Infant Bonding Scale at 12-48 hours and one month after delivery. Results: The results demonstrate that bonding emotions of cord cutters and non-cord cutters were highest at 12-48 hours after delivery. One month after delivery, fathers who did not cut the umbilical cord demonstrated more difficulty sustaining an emotional connection to their infant compared to fathers who cut the umbilical cord. Conclusion: Childbirth healthcare providers should offer all fathers an opportunity to cut the umbilical cord and implement alternative bonding opportunities for those fathers who chose not to cut the umbilical cord.