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Book Review:

Fathering Right from the Start:
Straight Talk about Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond

by Jack Heinowitz, PhD
Novato, CA: New World, 2001

Reviewed by Pete W.
Georgia, USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 19, No. 2 March-April 2002 pp. 66

Fathering Right from the Start, by Jack Heinowitz, PhD, is a handbook to assist fathers in creating a strong father-mother relationship and father-child bond. Beginning before birth and ending in adolescence, Heinowitz shares his personal experiences and those of others while both raising questions and offering answers.

Very much a self-help book, Fathering Right from the Start aims to put fathers at ease and to show them that they are not alone with their worries, concerns, and issues in childbirth and child rearing.

Heinowitz offers wonderful suggestions to help the father stay engaged and bonded with his wife and child while respecting the importance of breastfeeding and the primacy of the mother-child bond early on. Real-life breastfeeding issues are dealt with head-on in a manner similar to that found in a La Leche League meeting, but they speak to a father’s perspective.

For example, in the case where a baby’s crying interrupts lovemaking, he gives insight into the mother’s position. He shows how she is forced to choose between being a wife or a mother at that moment, and he gently asks the father to have a sense of humor and to understand the need of both mother and child to comfort the child at the breast. This is one of many examples and issues explored that seek to lead the father to becoming, or staying, an engaged, attached “breastfeeding father.”

Other issues explored include the father’s feelings of being shut out while the mother is nursing; sex (or lack thereof) during pregnancy and after birth; laboring and birthing together; postpartum adjustments; facing the fears of fatherhood; addressing poor fathering role models in one’s past; what mothers really want, and what children really need. The author explores common situations and also fears and feelings that will not be relevant to all fathers. While fathers are the intended audience of the book, the author pauses at certain points to include comments intended for female readers. With so much attention generally given to the mother and to what she goes through in childbirth and beyond, it is refreshing to see the author instead giving the mother insight into the mind and heart of her partner and giving her suggestions to help him through the issues he faces.

Overall, this is an interesting and thought-provoking book, which shares with the reader some intimate and moving moments from the male perspective. By giving fathers the tools to support breastfeeding and to maintain healthy relationships with their partner and children, this book ultimately seeks to provide what is best for the child.

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