Ukrainian photo exhibition «Dads in Focus»: The important role of fathers in raising a child

On November 17th, 2018, on World Prematurity Day, Early Birds, the Ukrainian Preemie Parent Association opened the photo exhibition «Dads in Focus». This event is supported by the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, the Association of Neonatologists of Ukraine, as well as by the main perinatal centres and maternity hospitals. The exhibition will be open until December 16, 2018.

For every child, it is very important that not only the mother but also the father cares for its child in an emotional and affectionate way. To underline this need, the exhibition displays many beautiful and emotional pictures by Ukrainian photographers showing dads of premature babies who are practicing kangarooing in the NICU. The aim of the event is to refute the stereotype that only a woman should be engaged in childcare and to demonstrate the importance of the father in raising children.

The real heroes of the photo exhibition – the premature babies – visited the grand opening of the event, along with their parents. Most of the photographers whose work is shown at the exhibition are also parents of early birds!

Kangarooing is a technique where the premature baby is placed in an upright position on its mother’s or father’s bare chest allowing skin-to-skin contact. The baby’s head is turned so that its ear is positioned above the parent’s heart. This method is known as a gold standard in the care of premature babies.

The photo project aims to stimulate the early involvement of the fathers in the care of premature babies in perinatal centres for its numerous benefits:

  • It strengthens the psycho-emotional and physical connection between father and child.
  • Fathers begin to feel the responsibility for the child and the family.
  • Joint childcare improves and strengthens the relationship of the parents.
  • Fathers are becoming more competent in caring for their babies.
  • Mother are becoming more calm and relaxed, feeling their husbands’ support.
  • Fathers who practice kangarooing understand the babies and their needs better.

“Everyone is used to the fact that the mother is taking care of a child. However, for some reason, we do not encourage and appreciate a father who takes care of his baby at the NICU, even after a long day of work. We should support the father in his efforts to do everything to make the family more comfortable and to take them home from the hospital as soon as possible. If the father is near the child right after it is born, it strengthens not only the psycho-emotional and physical connection between him and the child but also the whole family”, says Elena Bondar, one of the exhibition’s organizers.

“To destroy the stereotype that only a woman is caring for a child while her husband is working, is a matter of the country’s development”, says Deputy Minister of Health of Ukraine Alexander Linchevsky. “It is necessary to remember that the upbringing and care of a child is not a maternal duty, it’s about the whole family. As soon as both women and men have equal opportunities, the whole society will benefit from it,” says Alexander Linchevsky.