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Making a new life is a collaborative process usually involving both man and woman. However, to my knowledge, the English phrase "give birth to" can only have the female counterpart as the "subject". For example, when we say:

Somebody gives birth to the child.

Somebody is bearing a child.

We will assume that "somebody" who heavily invested is a female. However, any competent father will choose to dedicate a lot of time, energy, and money for taking care of the mother and the baby; perhaps such investment is no less than the investment from the female side. For example, it could be a case that the mother used to be a home-maker and the father was an industry worker. Now the father has to be "over-working" three jobs as an industry worker, a home-maker, and a personal "nurse".

What is the proper phase to describe the time-consuming and money-consuming process and dedication of "having a child" from the male's perspective? It is more about the pregnancy and birth-giving phase.

The option that I have for now is "to have a baby/to make a baby" but this sounds very informal.

There is another option "bring forth a child" but I am not sure if male can use it too.

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    What's wrong with "having a child"? That or "having a baby" are fine in most contexts (although they are somewhat vague). Can you maybe explain what parts of the process you are referring to - conception, pregnancy, birth, caring for infant, raising an older child. Are you referring to caring, nourishing/feeding, supporting financially, educating, or other things?
    – Stuart F
    Commented Mar 8, 2023 at 9:45
  • Certainly in the UK, the National Health Service and BBC often use "having a baby", although they also use many other terms for different aspects.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Mar 8, 2023 at 9:47
  • @StuartF More about the conception, pregnancy, and birth phase. Taking care of the embryo and mother.
    – dodo
    Commented Mar 8, 2023 at 10:00

5 Answers 5

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I agree with others that to "father" a child means to contribute to biological reproduction.

The longer-term involvement (by either parent) would be called raising a child.

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  • The question is about the male's contribution during conception, pregnancy, and birth phase. It is less about the time after giving birth.
    – dodo
    Commented Apr 9, 2023 at 9:14
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The closest equivalent to a woman 'giving birth' to a child is to say a man 'fathered' a child. But neither of these really refers to the ongoing responsibilities of looking after a child, just the act of becoming a parent.

The best word might be parenthood. This noun not only refers to the period of time in which parents are responsible for raising a child and the 'state' of being a parent, but it is often used to unspokenly imply both the joys and tribulations that the responsibility brings. For example, people often refer to "the joys of parenthood" in both a sincere and sarcastic way.

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    Or 'becoming a father'. Commented Mar 7, 2023 at 11:49
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    Just to be clear, fathering has nothing to do with time or money. It's all in the hips.
    – EllieK
    Commented Mar 7, 2023 at 17:37
  • @KateBunting 'becoming a father' is the opposite of 'becoming a mother'. A man fathering a child is the closest equivalent to a woman giving birth to a child.
    – Astralbee
    Commented Mar 7, 2023 at 20:46
  • How about "bring forth a child together"? Can male uses "bring forth"?
    – dodo
    Commented Mar 8, 2023 at 8:26
  • Bring forth is just an archaic expression for give birth to, only appropriate with reference to the mother. Commented Mar 8, 2023 at 9:11
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The vocabulary of a society is bounded by its cultural norms, and this is certainly an area where the cultural norms of western society leave us wanting for a suitable word. Until very recently, the man's role in the process was to be party to the conception and to provide financially for the woman and child.

You can use the rather formal word procreation relating to one or both parents. The Cambridge Dictionary defines as

the process of producing young animals or babies

The word definitely fits, as it covers the whole process, however our cultural norms probably limit its meaning as described earlier.

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There is nothing particularly informal about "have a baby", but it is slightly odd to use it of a man on his own. A woman can have a baby without the involvement of a man during the pregnancy, but not vice-versa.

So, in recognition of this, you would "Mike is having a baby with his wife, Sally." It recognises Mike's involvement, without diminishing the fact that he isn't carrying the baby himself. The same can be used of same-sex couples "Sally is having a baby with her wife", though cultural norms may require more explanation.

It is also possible to just let context make your meaning clear.

Mike is pretty tired at the moment. His wife is pregnant so, he's spending a lot of time looking out for her as well as working full-time.

Top-tip. If something is hard to say, don't!

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One option that no one has mentioned yet is "beget", which specifically refers to the father's role in insemination. Note that this word means almost nothing to anyone in modern English, and should certainly not be used in conversation if you want to be understood, but it's worth pointing out for its historical significance. (This should probably not be marked as the accepted answer.)

Its main ingress into English is via translations of the Bible, where fathers are often said to have "begotten" their children. Today we might think of the father's physical role before conception as a pretty laughable contribution, perhaps as little as five enjoyable minutes, compared to the mother's nine difficult months. But for the culture(s) from which the Bible arose, the idea of providing the "spark" that sets it all in motion was significant.

One could argue that this view includes a patriarchal bent as well, overemphasizing the agency of the man, as if in an image of a farmer sowing seed into otherwise barren (and passive) soil. Or it could be owed to a cultural norm where the father did indeed do less hands-on parenting, so there was a greater need for distinct words for impregnating and raising.

Nowadays we have no "formal" term that refers only to the father's begetting. Others have mentioned "fathering", which I agree is definitely the closest to what you seem to be looking for, but it vaguely implies more involvement than just the physical contribution, just as "to be a mother" and "to be a father" could mean simply to have produced a child but almost always mean to continue raising it.

We do have various informal terms for begetting, though, which are generally perjorative, because they imply that the begetter did not stick around to raise the child or at least doesn't want to. For example, in North America "knock up" means this.

I can't think of a term that's completely neutral as to its implications about raising the child, the way that "have a baby" is for the mother.

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  • How do you begin to begat? (Noye's Fludde)
    – James K
    Commented Apr 9, 2023 at 21:08

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