FATHERHOOD

These photos show the joy and awe of new dads bonding with their babies around the world

In June, Father’s Day will be celebrated in more than 80 countries around the world. It’s a good time to reflect upon the unique impact that fathers can have on their children’s lives. Although research on parenting tends to focus on mothers, or families more generally, a growing body of evidence shows the critical role of fathering in healthy childhood development.

To celebrate dads this year, photographer Adriana Zehbrauskas partnered with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on a photo series of dads and their newborns in the delivery room in five different countries—Guinea Bissau, Mexico, Thailand, Turkmenistan, and the United Kingdom. The photos aim to draw attention to the lack of paid paternal leave around the world and the importance of father-child bonding from an early age for a child’s healthy development. “Evidence suggests that when fathers bond with their babies from the beginning of life, they are more likely to play a more active role in their child’s development,” UNICEF explains in a statement. “Research also suggests that when children positively interact with their fathers, they have better psychological health, self-esteem and life-satisfaction in the long-term.”

Mexico

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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 make their life, that they are happy. And the most important thing as they say they have a university career,” he says. (UNICEF / Zehbrauskas)

Thailand

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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. (UNICEF / Zehbrauska)

Turkmenistan

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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.” (UNICEF / Zehbrauskas)

United Kingdom

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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.” (UNICEF / Zehbrauskas)

Guinea Bissau

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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. (UNICEF / Zehbrauskas)

This reporting is part of a series supported by a grant from the Bernard van Leer Foundation. The author’s views are not necessarily those of the Bernard van Leer Foundation.

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