Dads enter the American childbirth picture

American fathers began making their way into the childbirth picture in the 1950s, according to Make Room for Daddy: The Journey from Waiting Room to Birthing Room, historian Judith Walzer Leavitt's 2009 book. Birth had migrated from home to hospital by that time.Make Room for Daddy

Two developments helped bring dad into the birth process, Leavitt writes — the growing influence in this country of British obstetrician Grantly Dick-Read's 1933 book Childbirth Without Fear and the "natural birth" movement it helped launch; and the development of regional anesthesia for childbirth.

Dick-Read's book inspired couples to begin exploring ways to experience childbirth together. The introduction of regional anesthesia meant that women were conscious during birth, but often alone for long periods during labor.

Women asked for their husbands to be allowed to attend their births, and doctors and hospital officials eventually realized that the fathers' presence could make birth safer and more satisfying for mothers.

The phenomenon of fathers attending their children's birth was not just new, it was news. For the June 13, 1955 issue of Life magazine, photographer Burton Glinn snapped reporter John Stouffer gaping in amazement at the birth of his son at Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle.

The birth of Prince William

Prince William, set to marry on Friday, was born in the private Lindo Wing of St. Mary's Hospital in London on June 21, 1982, more than a week before his due date.

He was the first male of the British royal family to be born in a hospital. Prince Charles also broke with tradition by attending the birth.

Prince William and parents leave the hospital

Prince William and his parents leave the hospital

Prince Charles and his first wife, Princess Diana, William's mother, arrived at the hospital very early on the morning of the day William was born.

George Pinker MD, the royal gynecologist, attended Diana. She had also been coached by Betty Parsons, a nurse and natural-birth advocate who had helped Queen Elizabeth with a couple of her births.

Many accounts present the birth as "natural" and drug-free, while at least one insider book holds that the princess had an epidural during her 16-hour labor.

William was born at 9:03 p.m., and weighed 7 lb. 2 oz. A 41-gun salute was fired off in his honor. Princess Diana was back home the next day.

Prince Charles, always restrained, was clearly thrilled. He wrote friends, "I can't tell you how excited and proud I am," adding that he found the newborn William "surprisingly appetising."