by Fudia Muhammad
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan stated, “Prophet Muhammad said, ‘Heaven lies at the foot of mother.’ Prophet Muhammad was asked, ‘After Allah (God) and His Messenger whom should we honor most?’ The Prophet answered, ‘Your mother.’ The companion asked who next? The Prophet answered, ‘Your mother.’ The companion asked again, and, the Prophet answered, ‘Your mother.’ The companion asked a fourth time, and, the Prophet answered, ‘Your father.’ These two sayings of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), teach us the importance of the female in building a heavenly society, and the level of honor that should be accorded to our mothers right after honor to Allah (God) and to His Messenger.”
These statements were made by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) of Arabia, over 1,400 years ago. He bore witness then and it stands true today, that the honor we give to our mothers should be three times the honor we give to our fathers. Why? In order for a woman to give birth, she must go through death’s door. The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad said that the pain of childbirth is equal to the pain of death. Though it is a natural pain; nonetheless, it is horrendous to endure. There is no debate about whom has the most important role during pregnancy, labor and delivery – mother has no equal in this divine stage. However, a father’s role is very significant and has a direct bearing on the mother and her baby during every phase of childbirth.
The role of the father during labor and delivery, is not only to support and comfort his wife; his role is more than helping her to push and stay focused; his role even extends beyond being her protector and advocate at the birthing center or hospital. During natural childbirth, the role of the father is also to deliver (“catch”) his baby. He should be the first and only person to touch the baby before the mother. As the baby transitions from one world to the next, this is a very critical time for the baby, so father must be ready. He should be taught and prepared well in advance to receive his baby from the birth canal and gently place him/her on his wife’s chest. The role of the midwife (or doctor) at the moment of delivery is to be right at the father’s side guiding him with precision and specific instructions.
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan said that this is our way; the way of the righteous, the Original man and woman – and it is becoming more acceptable and encouraged. This should be included in the mother’s birth plan and as long as it is discussed several weeks prior to delivery, there should be no objections. It is a father’s duty and his right to be the first to receive and greet the life he produced.
Science supports the value of this special practice. Mothers are not the only ones who are physiologically, hormonally, and neurologically connected to their children. Fathers who immediately connect by physically touching their babies at the earliest possible moment experience notable hormonal changes. There is an elevation of oxytocin levels similar to (but not as intense as) a new mother who just delivered or is breastfeeding her baby. MRI imaging also show heightened brain activity in these same fathers when they hear the cry of their own babies. Fathers strengthen both their biological and emotional connection to their children by bonding with them immediately.
This immediate contact is also critical for the newborn. We may have witnessed that babies instantly recognize the scent, touch and voice of their mothers at birth. But according to research, nearing the end of pregnancy (32 weeks in utero), babies are also able to recognize the voice of their fathers. Remember that everything is energy; so, his voice but especially the father-to-baby touch carries with it an exchange of energy which is transmitted at a higher vibratory ratewhich could never be achieved by a stranger (midwife or doctor) and the baby. Passing a newborn from doctor to doctor, nurse to nurse, and person to person all before reinforcing the natural parental bond abruptly disrupts the baby’s physical and metaphysical transition. Unknowingly we are injecting foreign and potentially harmful energy exchanges; which could affect everything from the baby’s ability to latch onto his mother to nurse – to newborn sleep apnea.
A father’s role during delivery cannot be overstated; so, every potential father should prepare to be present and fully participate. If one is particularly squeamish and believes he may become faint, he should remember what his wife will endure; then prepare psychologically far in advance. Attend all prenatal visits and childbirth classes. Study and learn exactly what is happening with the female anatomy during childbirth to remove the mystique – we fear what we don’t know. Ultimately safety is the most important element. In order for the father to be helpful and not harmful to his wife and newborn, he must be ready for the divine assignment – physically, mentally and spiritually. God-willing, the couple will be blessed with a successful labor and delivery. Afterwards, the father should lead a prayer thanking Allah (God) for the new life and asking for His Guidance, Protection and Mercy.
Fathers were not allowed in any hospital delivery rooms until the 1970s and as late as the 1980s in certain hospitals, until advocacy and undeniable research proved the benefits. Men can never fully understand the pain of childbirth and the undertaking that the female body must sustain; but to be able to witness the process and to be willing to receive the product of theirseed is honorable and a great privilege. For a father to remain by his wife’s side,providing solace and protection on the birth-day and everyday will ensure that the love she has for her husband will be transferred to her children and passed on to future generations.
(Sister Fudia Muhammad is a member of Muhammad Mosque No. 64 in Austin, Texas. She is married to Student Minister Robert L. Muhammad and they have been blessed with four children. Sister Fudia holds a Master’s degree in Education – she is a writer, an educator and an advocate for God-centered child-rearing.)