This year acclaimed photographer Adriana Zehbrauskas joined forces with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to take a series of photos across five countries showing dads with newborns in hospital delivery rooms overcome with emotion.
While we confess women do the bulk of the heavy lifting, both physical and emotional, when it comes to childbirth, it’s an undoubtedly emotional thing to witness a man hold his child for the first time. You’ve not felt every kick nor experienced how it expanded in your belly over the nine months. The child is mostly a figment of your imagination until… until it’s not, it’s here.
Zehbrauskas’ images, released for Fathers’ Day this year, celebrated a growing body of evidence showing the critical role of fathering in healthy childhood development. The images of dads with newborns were taken in Guinea Bissau, Mexico, Thailand, Turkmenistan, and the United Kingdom, where they also served the purpose of drawing attention to the lack of paid paternal leave around the world.
Supidej Jaithon, 20, (also known as Boss), cries with laughter as he holds his newborn baby Matt, born a few moments before at Lerdsin Hospital, Bangkok, Thailand, on March 6, 2018. “I came to see my baby’s face. My boss didn’t allow me to take the day off because I had lots of work, but I don’t care, my family comes first” he says.
Jim Cherrett does skin-to-skin contact with his six-week-old baby daughter Piper, who was born prematurely, in order to help bonding and keep her warm, in the neonatal unit of the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, in Exeter, Devon, England, on February 26, 2018. “The most important aspect of fatherhood to me is to be there for the kids and making sure everyone is happy,” Jim explains. “When I was little, dad was always working and mum was always home, but now it’s completely different, I work only two nights a week and Leanne is a full-time worker, it’s a complete role reversal, now it’s different fathers can spend a lot more time together.”
On March 21, 2018, in Guinea-Bissau, Juelmo Tchana Ncus smiles as a family member gives him his newborn baby to hold, in Mother Teresa of Calcutta Maternity Hospital in the town of Bula, in the northern Cacheu Region.
Yair Cruz, 26, holds his newborn baby girl Mia Gisele, his third child, at the Instituto Nacional de Perinatología (INPER) hospital, in Mexico City, Mexico, on February 21, 2018.
Sai Tlen, 38, meets his newborn daughter after his wife underwent a C-section at the Regional Health Promotion Centre in Chiang Mai on March 7. The baby girl is Sai’s second child.
Gerardo Brito Rodriguez holds his 13-day-old premature baby girl Diana Brito Muñoz, at the Instituto Nacional de Perinatología (INPER) hospital, in Mexico City, Mexico, on February 21, 2018. “My children, I wish more than anything that makes their life, that they are happy. And the most important thing as they say they have a university career,” he says.
On March 29, 2018, in Turkmenistan, Eziz, 28 (father) and Nazik, 23 (mother) prepare to leave the Maternity Unit, Mother and Child Health Centre in Ashgabat with their second child, Abdylguly. Eziz arrives at the hospital with his close and extended family. He’s dressed in the obligatory dark suit and white shirt. He rushes upstairs and waits as his baby is dressed in the white silk blankets. “I’m so proud to be a father for the second time. He’s my second son,” Eziz says. “I haven’t slept for two weeks, I was so nervous. Now the baby has arrived we can celebrate and relax. This celebration is the father’s role. It creates memories that you can look back on in years to come.”
Amugpote and his daughter Nam at Lerdsin Hospital in Bangkok on March 6. Amugpote is a Burmese migrant who has been living in Thailand for the past eight years. He and Kiengmachu both work at a sewing factory. “I was happy and excited when I found out I was going to be a dad,” said Amugpote. “Fathers are not allowed in the delivery room. … I wanted to see the baby. I called the hospital to see if my baby was born yet, and when I knew, I came right away.” “I don’t have paternity leave. If I don’t go to work, I don’t get paid. Today, I took a half-day off to do the birth certificate,” said Amugpote. “I will be busy with work because my wife plans not to work for five to six months, so I may not have much time to take care of the baby. I’m a dad now, I’ve got to work harder.”
Alex Edmonds Brown holds his son Harley James in a private room in the maternity ward of the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital in Exeter, England, on Feb. 28.