33 Sweet Photos Of Dads Around The World Welcoming Their New Babies
A new series of photos highlights the joy of fatherhood and the loving power in the earliest moments of a child’s life.
On Thursday, UNICEF released a set of images by photographer Adriana Zehbrauskas that show dads welcoming their newborn babies in five different countries: Guinea-Bissau, Mexico, Thailand, Turkmenistan and the United Kingdom.
“The birth of a newborn from the perspective of the mother and baby has been documented so beautifully many times, but relatively speaking there is somewhat a lack of images that portray the birth and first moments of life from the father’s perspective,” Zehbrauskas told HuffPost. “Showing fathers in this way ― emotional, full of pride, committed ― in the most life-changing moments in their lives will hopefully encourage and inspire other fathers across the world to feel confident and play a big role in their young children’s lives.”
The series is part of UNICEF’s #EarlyMomentsMatter campaign, which emphasizes the impact of early childhood experiences and environments on brain development. During June, the United Nations program is encouraging employers, governments and citizens to invest in paid paternity leave and quality parenting programs.
“The environment and traditions varied in every country I traveled to, but there were certain elements that ran true across all fathers and families featured in the series,” said Zehbrauskas. “It was the emotions, the pride, the feeling of commitment and, of course, the nerves that were very much alive in the faces of all fathers I met.”
Keep scrolling to see more photos of dads welcoming their babies and read about their experiences in captions courtesy of UNICEF.
ThailandUNICEF/Adriana ZehbrauskasSupidej Jaithon, 20, cries with laughter as he holds baby Matt, born a few moments earlier at Lerdsin Hospital in Bangkok on March 6.
“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,” Supidej said. “I was shocked when I found out my wife [was pregnant]. I thought we were very young. … When the baby moved and I touched, I felt very good that I’m becoming a father.”
UNICEF/Adriana ZehbrauskasSupidej Jaithon and his wife Nartanana cuddle with baby Matt, born a few hours earlier on March 6.
“The actual due date was April 21, so I wasn’t well prepared ― I didn’t expect the labor to happen so fast,” said Supidej. “I don’t expect much. I just want him to grow up to be a good person. I want to spend time with my baby, because my dad was away when I was a child.”
MexicoUNICEF/Adriana ZehbrauskasEli Rodriguez Zempahua, 22, looks at his wife Lucia and newborn baby girl Mage Rodriguez Trinidad at the Zongolica IMSS Prospera hospital in Veracruz on Feb. 19.
United KingdomUNICEF/Adriana ZehbrauskasAlex 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.
“He was born at 32 weeks, he was premature, and this is our first day in the room together. He’s been in the incubator and on the ward. It’s nice to be in the room now,” said Alex, a tanker driver, who took two weeks of paternity leave when Harley was born.
“I go to work and I come here after I finish work and spend the whole evening with him. At the moment, I’m just changing him and feeding him. I’ve been doing the skin-to-skin contact and giving him lots of cuddles. It’s so incredible to have something so precious so close to you. It’s an overwhelming happiness, and I’m so proud of [my partner] Katie after everything she’s been through,” added Alex. “Knowing that I’ve got someone that’s dependent on me ― that’s the most important thing. It’s the role of being a father and looking after him.”
Guinea-BissauUNICEF/Adriana ZehbrauskasAissatu Seidi leans against husband Mamudo Queta for support in the delivery room at a hospital in Canchungo, in the northern Cacheu region, on March 23. Although this is the couple’s eighth child, it’s Mamudo’s first time being present at the birth.
Mamudo said his wife refused to let him leave the delivery room because his presence gave her support. After the baby was born, he went home to get food for his wife. He came back accompanied by 4-year-old son Moustapha to show him his new brother.
Mamudo looks forward to playing with the baby, but the tailor has no paternity leave. He said he will make sure he takes time for his child before going to work and after.
UNICEF/Adriana ZehbrauskasMamudo Queta, sitting astride a bicycle with 4-year-old Moustapha, heads back to the hospital with food for his wife.
TurkmenistanUNICEF/Adriana ZehbrauskasOn March 28 at the maternity unit of the Mother and Child Health Center in Ashgabat, families get ready to leave the hospital. Mothers and babies change into nice clothes, while embellished cars wait to take them home.
Although mothers and grandmothers take near sole responsibility for raising children in Turkmenistan, and fathers are not legally given the time or resources to do so, traditionally men have been responsible for bringing the infants home after their birth. In recent years, this once small-time tradition has grown into a vibrant ritual.
First, the fathers will dress in their smartest attire. Then they will take their own car or a hired vehicle to a decoration warehouse, where it will be dressed from wheels to roof in balloons, toys, banners and stickers. Characters including Superman, Barbie and Mickey Mouse will adorn doors, windows, hoods and trunks. When the heavily decorated car is driven to the hospital or health center, dozens of the father’s friends will arrive as well to patiently wait for the big moment.
ThailandUNICEF/Adriana ZehbrauskasSai 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.
“My wife told me to come to the delivery room and be with her. At this hospital, dads can go into the delivery room, except when it’s a C-section, so I waited outside,” said Sai, who works in a rice mill. “It is a bit of a shame that my baby isn’t that healthy so I have not held her yet. I only touched her a little.”
MexicoUNICEF/Adriana ZehbrauskasOn Feb. 19, José Santos Valdés Maldonado arrives home in Tlaixco, Veracruz, with his newborn daughter Deniss Valdés Tetzoyotl and his wife. Deniss was born in the hospital in Zongolica.
United KingdomUNICEF/Adriana ZehbrauskasJim Cherrett does skin-to-skin contact with his 6-week-old 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 on Feb. 28.
“I’m going to be involved in any way I can. Cuddles, reading to her, nappy changes, feeds ― everything I can do, I’ll do it,” said Jim. “Skin-to-skin feels a lot different than just holding a baby for a cuddle. It feels a lot more connected. It seems a lot more tranquil and peaceful. You focus a lot more and appreciate how tiny they really are.”
“The most important aspect of fatherhood to me is to be there for the kids and making sure everyone is happy,” Jim added. “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.”
TurkmenistanUNICEF/Adriana ZehbrauskasOn March 30, father Shageldi and mother Ogulhally look at their baby boy Nepes, born on March 27 at the maternity unit of the Mother and Child Health Centre in Goekdepe. The majority of the staff there are women, often working more than 12-hour shifts. Just like all government jobs in Turkmenistan, which account for the majority of employment, the working week is six days minimum. The nurses wear white shirts, trousers and traditional wide headscarves.
Fathers are allowed to go into the delivery room. However, on average, less than 1 in 10 fathers of babies delivered in the hospital chose to be present during the birth. The delivery partner is usually the woman’s mother, mother-in-law, sister or sister-in-law.
Meanwhile, the fathers stay in a waiting area in the corridor by the elevators, usually with other female family members. Some food is served at the hospital, but fathers and other family members often bring home-cooked food to the mothers during delivery.
ThailandUNICEF/Adriana ZehbrauskasAmugpote, 23, watches his wife Kiengmachu breastfeed their 2-day-old baby girl, 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.”
MexicoUNICEF/Adriana ZehbrauskasGabino Macuixtle Macuixtle helps dry his wife’s hair while Alberta Clemente Zepahua Namicle breastfeeds their newborn baby girl at the Zongolica IMSS Prospera hospital in Zongolica, Veracruz, on Feb. 19.
United KingdomUNICEF/Adriana ZehbrauskasPaul Barnes does skin-to-skin contact with his son Archie, born prematurely at 33 weeks on Jan. 23 in the neonatal unit of the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital. His parents Judy and John Barnes watch.
“I’ve been here every day. I’ve been doing skin-to-skin. It helps him relax, it helps his brain function. I feel this connection with him. We are communicating through skin and our feelings ― it’s a true bonding experience, so warm,” said Paul. “I was scared that our time in the hospital would be painstakingly slow, like we were just waiting to take him home, but with the skin-to-skin and the care my days in the hospital fly by. … When he came out after the operation, it was terrifying, [his] being so premature. He didn’t look like what you see in the movies, but I bonded with him straight away.”
TurkmenistanUNICEF/Adriana ZehbrauskasOn March 27, Arslan, 38, and Alina, 33, look at their second child, Damir, a baby boy born that day at the Mother and Child Health Centre in Ashgabat.
Arslan, Alina and her mother arrived at the hospital that morning. Arslan, a landscape gardener, stayed in the waiting area with the other anxious fathers while Alina gave birth. Just 20 minutes after Damir arrived, Arslan was preparing to see his baby.
“For the past nine months, I’ve been preoccupied. It’s as if I was the one giving birth,” said Arslan. “Now I feel calm and relaxed,” he added.
“I love taking care of babies. I love taking part. … When fathers are involved, the child will grow up in a full family. … In a full family, that’s when you see a child’s full potential. It’s important to be spiritual. Being a father is in our nature.”
“Of course I decorated my car,” he said. “It’s a way of the father’s displaying to the world he has a baby. It’s an expression of my inner feelings, happiness and joy. I want to display it out loud. After the celebration, I will take a few days off work and then I must continue.”
Guinea-BissauUNICEF/Adriana ZehbrauskasOn March 21, Juelmo Tchana Ncus, 31, smiles as a family member hands him his newborn baby in Mother Teresa of Calcutta Maternity Hospital in the town of Bula, in the northern Cacheu region.
The father said he was very happy when he heard his first child was going to be born, but he was concerned for the health of his wife and the baby. He stayed in the delivery room before and after (but not during) the birth. When he held his child for the first time, he felt immense joy and relief seeing that all had gone well.
For Juelmo, the most important part of fatherhood is to take care of and guide the child in all aspects of life. His relationship with his own father was not so close. He looks forward to holding his baby in his arms, to playing with the baby, to taking walks with the baby.
Juelmo has no paternity leave. He and his wife are farmers who cultivate rice, cashew, beans and peanuts.
UNICEF/Adriana ZehbrauskasOn March 21, Juelmo Tchana Ncus returns to Mother Teresa of Calcutta Maternity Hospital, where his wife Cadi Mbana is in labor.
He and his wife, who are from Binar (about seven kilometers away), arrived at the hospital at about 10 the night before. Juelmo left at midnight and came back at 5 the next morning. He was at the hospital when his wife gave birth that evening, at about 6.
MexicoUNICEF/Adriana ZehbrauskasGerardo Brito Rodriguez holds his 13-day-old premature baby, Diana Brito Muñoz, at the Instituto Nacional de Perinatología hospital in Mexico City on Feb. 21. He also has an 8-year-old boy.
“He already wants to know her because he entered the operating room and wanted to meet her. In fact, he has been preparing a surprise party for when she arrives,” said Gerardo of his son.
Being a father is, he said, means “seeing them both in school and in school to help him. My wife helps him a lot and also later I am with him. When I can, I am available. More than anything on the weekends or when it is late and she is still doing [housework].”
TurkmenistanUNICEF/Adriana ZehbrauskasOn March 29, Eziz, 28, and Nazik, 23, prepare to leave the Mother and Child Health Centre in Ashgabat with their second child, Abdylguly, a baby boy born on March 26.
When families get ready to leave the hospital, the mothers and babies change into nice clothes. Eziz arrived at the hospital dressed in the obligatory dark suit and white shirt, with a car covered in decorations, toys, banners and balloons.
“I’m so proud to be a father for the second time. He’s my second son,” Eziz said. “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.”
Eziz is an entrepreneur with his own textile company. “When I come back from work, I’m always anxious to see my first baby. I rush into the home and my world shines again,” he said.
“It’s stupid not to pay attention to children. Those fathers who are not involved didn’t get attention from their fathers ― it’s a dangerous cycle. To rear a child with love and pay attention to their needs makes them more engaged in the world around them. Love is the key to bringing up children. When there isn’t love, children are brought up senseless.”
United KingdomUNICEF/Adriana ZehbrauskasDamien Armes gives his wife Tamzin Lines slices of toast as she sits in a birthing pool in the maternity ward of the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital on Feb. 28.
“The girls absolutely love him, he’s such a good boy,” said Damien, a heating engineer, talking about his newborn Louis and his two older daughters, aged 6 and 3. “I was overcome with emotion the first time I held him. This experience would make the hardest man cry.”
“Me and my partner do a lot of one-to-one bonding with him, sit with him, hold him, play with him as much as we can,” added Damien. “I’ve got two weeks’ paternity leave. I’m not looking forward to go back to work. It’s going to go too quick.”
“I hope Louis lives a great life. I wouldn’t want to push him into anything. I just want him to enjoy life and I want to give him the kind of upbringing I’ve had,” said Damien.
ThailandUNICEF/Adriana ZehbrauskasSompong Nayiana, 28, smiles as he holds his baby girl, born just moments before, at the Regional Health Promotion Centre in Chiang Mai on March 8.
“I wasn’t that excited during the cesarean section because she’s my second child. But I became excited when I saw her face. I’m happy that she’s healthy ― she looks like her sister. My first child was born at another hospital, and I wasn’t allowed to have skin-to-skin contact after the birth like this time. This is a new experience for me. I think it’s good to have skin-to-skin like this,” said Sompong, who works at a printing company in Bangkok.
“My boss allows one month off, with pay, to take care of my baby,” he said.
“I want her to be a good person, get a good education and have a good future,” said Sompong of his newborn. “I don’t want her to live a difficult life like me.”
“I’ll have to return to Bangkok to work, so I won’t be able to raise her. But I’ll be back in Chiang Mai in April. My heart is here in Chiang Mai ― I want to be with my wife and two children, but I’ve got to go back to work.”
MexicoUNICEF/Adriana ZehbrauskasAlejandro Alberto Frontela Machado holds one of his twins, Isabela, for the first time as mother Carolina Martinez Garcia holds their other daughter, Alessandra, at the Instituto Nacional de Perinatología hospital in Mexico City on Feb. 22.
United KingdomUNICEF/Adriana ZehbrauskasJames Bennett holds his 1-day-old baby James in a private room in the maternity ward of the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital on Feb. 28.
“I’m a civil servant and I’ve got paternity leave. My work has been supportive. As soon as I got the scan, they got the ball rolling with all the forms I had to fill in,” said James, who watched the birth of his son.
As for the future, he said, “I’ll settle for healthy and happy for James. Everything else is a bonus.”
TurkmenistanUNICEF/Adriana ZehbrauskasOn March 29, Myratberdi Berdiyev, 25, waits anxiously as his premature baby is in intensive care at the Mother and Child Health Centre in Ashgabat.
Myratberdi was standing with his mother-in-law when the nurse explained, “Your baby couldn’t breathe when she was born, so she will need to stay here a while. She’s in an incubator and is stable, so she has a good chance of surviving.”
ThailandUNICEF/Adriana ZehbrauskasSomsak Hameyai, 50, bathes his 2-day-old son Sailom, his first child, during a parenting class at the Regional Health Promotion Centre in Chiang Mai on March 7.
“I was so happy when I found out I was going to be a father. I always wanted a boy,” said Somsak, who works as a civil servant. “I didn’t go into the delivery room because it was a cesarean section. I was outside. It was 10 p.m. I was nervous while waiting because I wanted to see the baby’s face. The hospital doesn’t allow visits after 8 p.m., so I saw my baby the next day. I couldn’t sleep all night because I was so excited to see him.”
“I was so happy,” said Somsak of his first time holding his child. “The baby looked at me and smiled. It’s hard to explain the feeling. I feel love. I feel I love him so much. My hope for him is to grow up and be healthy. I’ll be supportive of everything he’ll do … if it’s a good thing.”
“I’m concerned about financial issues because I’m the only person in the family who works,” he said. “I’m worried I might not be able to give my baby and wife all that they want. I get 15 days’ paternity leave, but I may not take all the leave because it affects my overtime payment.”
MexicoUNICEF/Adriana ZehbrauskasJose Alfredo Chipahua Chipahua, 20, sees his newborn baby girl, Axili Nikole Chipahua Zoquitécal, for the first time outside the delivery room at the Zongolica IMSS Prospera hospital on Feb. 19.
United KingdomUNICEF/Adriana ZehbrauskasJordan Bagshaw holds his 49-week-old daughter Marley Rae Bagshaw, who was born prematurely, in the neonatal unit of the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital on Feb. 28.
“Marley Rae was born at 26 weeks and weighed 1 pound, 13 ounces. She’s now more than 11. This is our second baby. We lost our son last year ― he was born premature as well. I lost my job because I had to have so much time off. She’s more important than work though,” said Jordan.
“We’ve been in the hospital five and a half months now. We were staying here before, but we gave up our room here for someone else and we only live 10 minutes away. We have a lot of cuddles with her. It’s crazy the first time you hold your child. It’s the best feeling ever, isn’t it?”
Sadly, Marley Rae passed away on May 6.
TurkmenistanUNICEF/Adriana ZehbrauskasOn March 28, Berdi Ovezov, 25, holds hands with Kumush Mamiyeva, 22, who is delivering their baby at the Mother and Child Health Centre in Ashgabat.
“Words aren’t enough to express my feelings,” said Berdi as he prepared to visit his wife, then in labor. He spent a few moments with her before returning to the waiting area. “I’m not ready to be there for the delivery,” he said.
Guinea-BissauUNICEF/Adriana ZehbrauskasOn March 22, a new father visits the mother of his child and their newborn baby, just 12 hours old, at Canchungo Hospital in the Cacheu region. The baby is lying beside her under a blanket.
United KingdomUNICEF/Adriana ZehbrauskasNathan holds his baby Ted, who was born prematurely at 29 weeks, in the neonatal section of the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital on Feb. 28.
“I’m a teacher. They’ve been so supportive at work,” said Nathan. “Ted was born in December and he’s been in hospital since. … The first time you hold your new baby is one of the best feelings ever. It’s hard to describe, but it feels like you’re being given someone you already know.”
“I love to be really involved. The most important thing is to spend as much time as possible with your kids,” Nathan said. “I’ll bring him home in March I hope. Then I’ll take my paternity leave then so I can spend time with him.”
ThailandUNICEF/Adriana ZehbrauskasArif Somsingjai, 30, a construction worker, holds his 2-day-old baby boy Karis, his second child, as his wife Chayanid Thaopan, 22, watches at the Regional Health Promotion Centre in Chiang Mai on March 8.
“I didn’t go into the delivery room because it was a cesarean section. I was waiting outside. I was concerned about the health of my wife and the baby, but when I found out they were safe, I was relieved,” said Arif. “I was happy when I held him for the first time. I think he looks like me. … I think it’s important that I’m a good father and a good leader of the family and work hard to earn a living.”
“I want to be with my son 24/7. I’m happy to be around him. I want to play with him, feed him, protect him ― everything. My concern is time. I may not have enough time to spend with him.”
“I can take days off, but I don’t get paid,” said Arif, when asked about paternity leave. “I plan to take a week off.”
Captions have been edited and condensed for clarity.
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