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New Fathers' Postbirth Views of Antenatal Classes: Satisfaction, Benefits, and Knowledge of Family Services


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New fathers (men whose partners had recently given birth) were asked to indicate to what degree antenatal classes had prepared them for childbirth, for their role as support persons, and for lifestyle and relationship changes after the birth. These postbirth findings were compared with a previous exit survey of male attendants at antenatal classes in which fathers-to-be predicted that the antenatal classes had prepared them well on all fronts. The new fathers in this study, however, reported that the antenatal classes had prepared them for childbirth but not for lifestyle and relationship changes after the birth. Additionally, couples who attended antenatal classes were asked to what extent they were familiar with family-related services in the region and how often they had used these services since the birth of their baby. Fathers were less familiar than mothers with the family-related services.
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New Fathers' Postbirth Views of Antenatal
Benefits, and Knowledge of Family Services
Richard Fletcher,
Simone Silberberg, BPsych
Deb Gallovk^ay,
is a
in the
in New
South Wales,
He is
team leader
for the
Fathers Project
in the
Family Action Centre
at the
the Family
Community Research Team
the Family Action Centre
at the
is a
clinical nurse consultant
Hunter Hospital, Hunter Health Service,
in New
Wales, Australia.
New fathers
whose partners
recently given
birth) were asked
what degree antenatal
prepared them
their role
as support persons,
and for
changes after
birth. These postbirth findings were
compared with
previous exit survey
male attend-
antenatal classes
which fathers-to-be predicted
that the antenatal classes
prepared them well
on all
The new
this study, however, reported
antenatal classes
prepared them
but not for
relationship changes after
the birth. Additionally, couples
attended antenatal
classes were asked
what extent they were familiar
with family-related services
in the
and how
they had used these services since
their baby.
Fathers were less familiar than mothers with
related services.
Perinatal Education, 13(3), 18—26; peri-
natal education, new fathers, family-related services.
DOI: 10.1624/105812404X1734
In preparation for the childbearing process, approxi-
mately 80% of first-time parents in Australia attend
antenatal/childbirth and parenting education courses
(New South Wales Standing Committee on Social
1998). Yet, despite the recognition of the posi-
tive role fathers can play during pregnancy, labour, and
childbirth, as late as the early 1990s few Australian
programs provided support specifically for fathers that
would encourage their increased involvement (Edgar &
Glezer, 1992). Furthermore, from the late 1980s, one
The Joumal
Perinatal Education Summer 2004,
Vol. 13, No. 3
of the most consistent themes underpinning investiga-
tions of fathers' roles in the lives of their children has
been the growing awareness of the benefits that posi-
tive father involvement has for child development. This
growing awareness of the advantages of paternal in-
volvement has led to greater recognition of the support
needs of men during their transition to fatherhood,
from the antenatal period through early childhood and
However, fathers are not currently accessing existing
family-related services. While the literature cites possi-
ble barriers to fathers' involvement in such services,
the evidence as to how better to meet these needs is far
from clear.
In an attempt to address this issue, the aim of this
research project was twofold: first, to assess how well
antenatal classes currently being offered in the Hunter
region of New South Wales (NSW), Australia, are
meeting men's needs and, second, to assess new fathers'
familiarity with and use of support services. This latter
information would then be used to formulate strate-
gies so that men are better supported in their roles
as labour support person, parent, partner, and family
Review of Literature
While the benefits of constructive father involvement
in the lives of their children are now well-recognised
and well-documented (Bernadette-Shapiro, Ehrensaft,
& Shapiro, 1996; Lamb, 1997; McBride & Rane,
Nord, 1998), the benefits of fathers' involvement
with their families actually begins well before their
child is born. The positive contribution expectant and
new fathers can make has been recognised for many
years as valuable to the mother's well-being during
pregnancy, labour, and childbirth (Entwisle & Doering,
Kroelinger & Oths, 2000; May, 1982).
Not only is there a growing recognition of the role
of fathers from pregnancy through labour, childbirth,
and infancy, fathers are also now demanding a greater
role in these early stages. Consequently, a need exists
to better understand the experiences of fathers and
support them in the transition from expectant to new
fathers. This desire for greater involvement and recog-
A need exists to better understand the
fathers and support them in the transition from
expectant to new fathers.
nition has aptly been labeled as "laboring for rele-
vance" (Jordan, 1990, p. 11).
In conjunction with the recognition of the positive
benefits of fathers' involvement and changes in the pat-
tern of societal beliefs about gender roles, an accep-
tance has emerged that fathers' needs are identifiable
(Fletcher, 1995). These include issues associated with
the needs of men during the antenatal period that may
be separate and additional to those of the expectant
mother. Of particular importance is the recognition
that the individual needs of men must be considered in
their preparation and education for new fatherhood
and changing family dynamics. As a consequence,
greater attention is now being paid to fathers who, in
the past, have been largely excluded from consider-
ation in both the reproductive and childbearing process
(Jordan, 1990).
For those men who attended antenatal classes, re-
actions—including feelings of frustration, helplessness,
anxiety, discomfort, nervousness, and fear for their
partners—are well documented (Chapman, 2000;
Henderson & Brouse, 1991; Nichols, 1993; Shapiro,
Smith, 1999). Underpinning these reactions is
a lack of consideration for the needs of men, so they
simply feel like observers in a women's class (Smith,
Similarly, an Australian study of men attend-
ing antenatal classes found that men "were alienated
in the manner in which information was presented"
(Barclay, Donovan, & Genovese, 1996, p.12), be-
cause classes tended to focus on their partners. These
authors concluded that "antenatal education was en-
dured and not enjoyed by most men, and the finding
that men often resented and tolerated the ways in
which information was provided, indicates that
health services are not meeting most men's needs"
23). This view was supported by Shapiro (1995)
who found that fathers' presence at antenatal visits
is viewed as "cute or novel," with little or no
The Journal of Perinatal Education Summer 2004, Vol. 13, No. 3 19
New Fathers' Postbirth Views of Antenatal
Satisfaction, Benefits,
and Knowledge of
Family Services
information about their changing identity and future
therefore, fathers and male participants often
only attend out of a duty to their partners (Hallgren,
Kihlgren, Forslin, & Norberg, 1999).
In contrast to these findings. Galloway, Svensson,
and Clune (1997), who surveyed expectant fathers
while they were attending antenatal classes, found
most expectant fathers "... felt more confident about
their role as a support person in labour, better prepared
for the changes in lifestyle after the birth and that they
had opportunities to talk about issues that were im-
portant to them" (p. 38). The investigators acknowl-
edged, however, that the expectant fathers might not
have been able to accurately assess the value of the
program, as it existed, without the benefit of the expe-
rience of their partner's labour and the period after
While antenatal classes may attempt to prepare both
men and women for the actual birth, courses generally
do not prepare either women or men for the emotional
and psychological aspects of parenthood (Barclay
et al., 1996; Brown, Lumley, Small, & Astbury, 1994;
Donovan, 1995), which are often more important than
the physical issues (Knauth, 2000; Parr, 1988). From
Australian research, Barclay and Lupton (1999) re-
ported that, for most men, first-time fatherhood in-
volves significant changes both in self-identity and
their relationship with their partner, and the amount of
tension the birth caused in their relationship greatly
surprised men. Donovan (1995) also recognised that
little is known about the experiences of Australian men
during their partner's pregnancy, concluding that
"emotional turmoil and anxiety in men contributed to
the 'mismatch' in male and female expectations of the
relationship" (p. 708). Men want reassurance that
everything in their relationship will return to normal
once the baby is born; however, this topic is seldom
discussed because men's needs are rarely acknowledged
or supported (Donovan, 1995).
Another area now receiving greater recognition is
the support men need during their transition to father-
hood. Traditionally, support services for parents from
the antenatal period onward have focused on women
or have been labeled as directed toward the family,
which in reality may again focus on the mother. Only
in the past few years have specific support services
been directed toward the needs of fathers: for example.
the American "Boot Camp for New Dads" (Alexander,
2000) and the Australian "Man... Being a Father"
(Denner, 1998) programs. However, with few excep-
tions (Gross, Fogg, & Tucker, 1995; McBride, 1991),
the effectiveness of these services has received little rig-
orous or systematic examination.
Large numbers of fathers are not currently access-
ing existing family-related support services. Evidence in
the literature suggests several reasons for this, as identi-
fied by Fletcher, Silberberg, and Baxter (2001) in an ex-
tensive review of the literature. The reasons included
the following: barriers within the services themselves,
such as ambivalence about increasing father involve-
ment; little focus on men's roles; a failure to recognise
fathers in family-service settings; lack of skills for en-
gaging men; few opportunities for men to relate to
other men; a preoccupation with medical rather than
fathering information; and the timing of classes where
information is not presented when most needed. Added
to these barriers are fathers' negative attitudes to ser-
vices in their current format, mothers who act as "gate-
keepers" of childbirth and child-rearing knowledge,
and, on a broader scale, negative stereotypical images
of men as nurturers.
From the literature on pregnancy, labour, childbirth,
and childcare, it is clear that, while conditions and per-
ceptions are slowly changing, fathers' needs are not be-
ing met. Even in those programs where attempts have
been made to engage fathers, few have attempted to
assess the benefits after the period of childbirth.
Similarly, fathers are not currently engaging family-
related services, and those studies that have attempted
to identify their support needs have yielded little use-
ful information. This study attempted to address some
of these issues.
the literature on pregnancy, labour, childbirth,
and childcare, it is clear that, while conditions and
perceptions are slowly changing, fathers' needs are
not being met.
20The Journal of Perinatal Education Summer 2004, Vol. 13, No. 3
New Fathers' Study
The purpose of the section of the research project re-
ported here^ was twofold. The first was to evaluate
new fathers' reactions to antenatal classes after the ex-
perience of labour and childbirth. The second purpose
was to identify the reasons why new fathers do not
currently access services that are available to support
them in their role as parents/carers and to identify
strategies to support more men in these roles.
Couples who attended antenatal classes at the John
Hunter Hospital, located in NSW, Australia, in 2000
were invited to participate in the study. Names and
addresses were obtained from the class records. The
survey packages were distributed around the Hunter
region to couples who attended at least 50% of the an-
tenatal classes and had indicated on hospital records
that this was the mother's first child (n-691).
Approval for this research was given by The University
of Newcastle Human Research Ethics Committee.
Data Collection and Instruments
The survey package contained an explanatory letter
to both the mother and the father, a Request-for-
Feedback Form (to receive a summary of the study's re-
sults) for each, a New Fathers Survey, and a New
Mothers Survey. Additionally, the fathers received an
expression-of-interest form to fill out if they were inter-
ested in attending future antenatal classes to share their
experiences with expectant parents.
Both the New Fathers Survey and the New Mothers
Survey were developed for this project. The New
Fathers Survey consisted of six closed and two open
questions—some with multiple parts—while the survey
for the mothers had only two questions. Question 1 on
both surveys collected demographic details on the par-
ticipants' age, baby's age, and whether the baby was
their first child. The latter was included because, even
though surveys were sent only to those couples for
' The project reported here was the first part of a larger
study, the second part of which surveyed service providers' expe-
riences in regard to fathers accessing their services.
whom this was the mother's first child, the hospital
does not collect this information from fathers.
Question 2 on the mother's form and Question 7 on
the father's form listed 11 family-related services avail-
able in the Hunter region. The participants were asked
to indicate whether they were familiar with each ser-
vice and to what degree they had used that service
since the birth of their baby (once, more than once but
less than four times, four times or more). This question
was devised to test the hypothesis that women are
more familiar with support services than men and that
women access these services more frequently than men.
The New Fathers Survey had five additional ques-
tions (see Table 1). Question 2, answered on a 5-point
Likert scale (strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree,
and strongly disagree), comprised four statements
adapted from an exit survey (Galloway et al., 1997)
completed by men who attended antenatal classes in
three major hospitals in NSW. The results of Question
2 could then be compared with the results of Galloway
and colleagues' 1996 Exit Survey to determine if any
discrepancies occurred between prediction/expectation
and actual experience.
Question 3 (Yes/No response) assessed whether the
attendance at the antenatal classes had any social bene-
fits such as friendships, social gatherings, and other op-
portunities. Question 4 (Yes/No response) was devised
to determine the level of interest in follow-up classes
after the birth as a possible means of providing educa-
tion to new fathers. Both these questions had space for
fathers to elaborate on their answers. Question 5 (Yes/
No response) provided an indication as to whether
new fathers would be willing to be involved in antena-
tal education. Lastly, Question 6 (tick relevant box)
provided an indication as to where new fathers seek
answers to fathering questions; their responses were to
be used to devise strategies to disseminate information
on fathering.
Data were initially analysed using descriptive statistics.
For Question 2, chi-square analysis was used to deter-
mine whether new fathers' impressions of the antenatal
classes differed significantly from those of expectant
fathers. For the question on the awareness and use of
services, the responses of the fathers and mothers were
The Journal of Perinatal Education Summer 2004, Vol. 13, No. 3 21
New Fathers' Postbirth Views of Antenatal
Satisfaction, Benefits,
and Knowledge of
Family Services
Table 1 Additional Questions in New Fathers Survey
Question 2^
a) Attending the antenatal classes helped me feel more confident during the birth of our baby.
[Attending the classes has helped me to feel more confident about the impending birth.]
b) Attending the antenatal classes helped me feel more confident as a support person during my partner's labour.
[I feel more confident now for my role as a support person in labour.]
c) The antenatal classes prepared me well for the changes in lifestyle after our baby was born.
d) The antenatal classes prepared me well for the relationship changes after the birth of our baby.
[I feel better prepared for the changes that will happen to our lifestyle after the birth of our baby.]
Question 3
After the birth of your baby, have you remained in contact with any of the couples who attended the antenatal classes with you?
Could you tell us some more about this contact (i.e., the frequency and the type or format of contact)?
Question 4
If a service offered postnatal classes to provide information about baby care, parenting, managing the changes in lifestyle, relationships,
and these classes were held after hours for mothers and fathers, would you sign up and attend these classes?
Could you elaborate on the reasons why you would not attend postnatal classes?
Question 5
Would you accept an invitation from the antenatal educator to share your experiences as a new father with the fathers-to-be during an
antenatal class session?
See expression-of-interest form.
Question 6
When you have queries about fathering your baby, who do you turn to? (You can tick more than one box.)
Fellow Father
Male Friend
Female Friend
General Practitioner
Child Health Nurse
compared using chi-square analysis to test the hypothe-
sis that mothers are more familiar with family-related
services and access them more frequently than fathers.
On the question regarding fathers' interest in attending
postnatal classes and to whom they turn with queries
about fatherhood, descriptive statistics were derived.
Open-ended questions provided information on the
social benefits of attending antenatal classes and the
fathers' willingness to return to an antenatal class to
share their experiences or their reasons for not wishing
to participate further. Content analysis was used for
these responses.
The statements in brackets refer to the Exit Survey
(Galloway, Svenson, & Clune, 1997).
Of the 691 couples who were sent a survey package, 32
couples had moved to another address since the birth of
their baby and were lost to potential follow-up efforts.
Of the remaining 659 couples, 213 (32.3%) provided
responses. In general, both the father and the mother
participated in the study. In six cases, only one member
of the couple returned the survey. In total, 212 fathers
and 216 mothers participated. Of these, 95% were first-
time fathers and 97% were first-time mothers.
Although surveys were sent only to those mothers who,
according to hospital records, were having their first
child, six mothers indicated to us that this was not their
first child. This gave a 3% discrepancy rate between the
22The Journal of Perinatal Education Summer 2004, Vol. 13, No. 3
hospital records and the survey responses, the reasons
for which are indeterminate. As mentioned above, par-
ity of fathers who did not return the surveys is un-
known. Survey responses indicated their baby's age was
0-6 months (29%), 7-12 months (42%), and older
than 12 months (29%). The fathers' ages ranged from
21-52 years (M
5.17) and the mothers'
from 20-45 years (M
29.6, SD
Table 2 shows the responses to Question 2. The re-
sponses to the New Fathers Survey are reflections on
the benefits of antenatal classes up to one year after
the birth of the baby, while the responses to the Exit
Survey are predictions of those fathers-to-be who com-
pleted the survey immediately after attending antenatal
classes. As the table shows, both groups agreed that
antenatal classes helped them feel more confident dur-
ing labour
and 89.0%, respectively) and more
confident in their role as a support person (87.2% and
respectively). For the question about lifestyle
and relationship changes, however, a discrepancy oc-
curred between prediction and actual experience:
of the fathers-to-be agreed that the antenatal
classes prepared them well for the upcoming changes,
but only 29.8% of the new fathers agreed that the clas-
ses had prepared them well for lifestyle changes and
for relationship changes. On both aspects of this
question, the New Fathers Survey and the Exit Survey
were significantly different at the .01 level.
Forty-nine (24%) new fathers referred to some form
of social contact with other participants of the antena-
tal classes. Of these, nine referred to making social
contact only once at a reunion organised by the hospi-
tal and the remaining 40 (19%) referred to regular and
continuous contact. Seven fathers reported that their
wives regularly met with the other mothers, but only
one father referred to men-only contact as a social
spin-off from the classes.
When asked if they would attend postnatal classes,
120 fathers (59%) indicated they would attend if they
were offered after business hours. Of those fathers
who were not interested, 17.6% gave no reason.
However, those who did offer explanations cited a vari-
ety of reasons, the most frequent being lack of time
no need for extra support because they were
coping well (15.3%); access to other support resources
such as books, support groups, a general practitioner,
a child health nurse, friends, and family (11.8%); loca-
tion and travel time (4.7%); learning through ex-
perience (4.7%); and timing—the need was there
immediately after the birth but not now (3.5%).
Approximately one-quarter of the fathers (26.2%) ex-
pressed an interest in sharing their experiences with
fathers-to-be at future antenatal classes.
The responses to the question of whom they turn to
when they have queries about fatherhood are shown in
Figure 1. The majority (91.8%) responded that they turn
to their partners. Other sources of information included
mother-in-law/mother (37.1%), fellow fathers (34.6%),
work mates (24.4%), child health nurse (23.9%), general
practitioner (21.0%), and father-in-law/father (15.6%).
Table 2 Benefits of Antenatal Classes—New Fathers Survey
and Exit Survey (n
200) (percent)
QuestionStrongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly Disagree Chi-square
2a) Confidence during birth
New Fathers Survey
Exit Survey
2b) Confidence as a support person
New Fathers Survey
Exit Survey
2c) Lifestyle changes
New Fathers Survey
Exit Survey (lifestyle and relationship changes)
2d) Relationship changes
New Fathers Survey
Exit Survey (lifestyle and relationship changes)
Note. For the chi-square analysis, the "Disagree" and "Strongly Disagree" categories were collapsed into one category.
*p < .05. •"p < .01.
The Journal of Perinatal Education Summer 2004, Vol. 13, No. 3 23
New Fathers' Postbirth Views of Antenatal Classes: Satisfaction, Benefits,
and Knowledge of Family Services
Female Friend
Mate Friend
Genera! Practitioner
Child Health Nurse
Work Mate
Fellow Father
- |21.0
Figure 1 Fathers' Use of Informants on Questions
about Fatherhood (percent who used service)
The results of the question on awareness and use of
services, which appeared on both the New Fathers
Survey (Question 7) and the New Mothers Survey
(Question 2), are presented in Table 3. For all but three
services (general practitioner, early childhood clinic,
and poison information centre), 50% or more of the
fathers were unfamiliar with the service. This com-
pared with the mothers who were similarly unfamiliar
with only three of the 11 services (family support ser-
home start, and family relationship skills pro-
The chi-square analysis showed a statistically
significant difference between the mothers and fathers
on 10 of the 11 services (nine at .01 and one at .05
level of significance). The data supported the hypothe-
Table 3 Fathers and Mothers Unfamiliar with
Support Services (percent)
Support Service
Ceneral practitioner
Early childhood clinic
Family Care Cottage
Family Support Service
Home Start
Postnatal depression services
Family Relationship
Skills Program
Kids Kare Line
Tresillian Help Line
Karitane Help Line
Poison Information Centre
= 212)
(« = 216)
sis that mothers are more familiar with family-related
services than fathers.
The other aspect of this question was how often,
if at all, fathers and mothers accessed those services
with which they were familiar. Examining only those
mothers and fathers who where familiar with the
service, the use patterns are shown in Table 4.
Mothers accessed four services significantly more of-
ten than fathers: general practitioner (p < .01), early
childhood clinic (p < .01), postnatal depression service
(p < .05), and Tresillian Help Line (p < .05).
However, most of the remaining services, while famil-
iar to either or both parent, had been accessed very lit-
tle since the birth.
The survey of fathers some months after the birth of
their child provides an evaluation of the effectiveness
of antenatal education programs being conducted in
the Hunter region of NSW in Australia during the pre-
vious year. In contrast to the study by Galloway and
colleagues (1997), the study described here sought the
reactions of fathers after the experience of childbirth
and fatherhood and then compared them with the im-
mediate post-class predictions of fathers who had at-
tended similar antenatal classes.
On several counts, the antenatal classes were evalu-
ated as being very successful. Fathers felt they were
well-prepared for the birth and their role as support
person. In this respect, the findings of this study sup-
port those of Calloway and colleagues (1997). How-
ever, fathers felt less well prepared for the relationship
and lifestyle changes accompanying the arrival of a new
baby, an outcome that echoes findings in the literature.
A clear mandate exists here for reviewing the curricu-
lum of antenatal classes to incorporate more emphasis
on relationships and to review the timing of the presen-
tation of this information.
Fathers felt they were well prepared for the birth
and their role as support person. However, they felt
less well prepared for the relationship and lifestyle
changes accompanying the arrival of
new baby.
< .05. "p < .01.
24The Journal of Perinatal Education Summer 2004, Vol. 13, No. 3
Table 4 Access Patterns by Fathers and Mothers to Family-Support Services (percent)
Support Services
General practitioner
Early childhood clinic
Family Care Cottage
Family Support Service
Home Start
Postnatal depression services
Family Relationship Skills Program
Kids Kare Line
Tresillian Help Line
Karitane Help Line
Poison Information Centre
not used
not used
With regard to timing, parents appear more recep-
tive to information delivered when it is most needed;
for example, Australian research suggests that both pa-
rents are not predisposed to absorb information about
postnatal support services during the prenatal period
(Harris, 1990; Russell, 1986). Similarly, both men and
women are possibly so preoccupied with the issues of
labour and childbirth that they are not ready to absorb
information on relationship and lifestyle changes until
the challenge becomes a reality. A better time for the
delivery of this information may be immediately after
the birth. In contrast, Canadian researchers have found
the second trimester of pregnancy to be an effective
time for teaching some aspects of postpartum adjust-
ment (Midmer, Wilson, & Cummings, 1995).
Some potential is evident for enhancing the develop-
ment of social networks through the classes. With over
one-third of male participants indicating they turn to
a fellow father for parenting advice, the development
of these networks could provide valuable contacts and
sources of support.
The finding that approximately 60% of the fathers
expressed an interest in attending postnatal classes
provides an approximate indication of interest. Since
the survey participants were recruited from across the
lower Hunter Valley and were not asked for commit-
ment to specific classes, attendance at postnatal classes
should not be assumed. Nevertheless, at the present
no provision is available for fathers in the post-
natal education area. This survey provides encourage-
ment to pilot an educational program for fathers.
Finally, while mothers are unfamiliar with some sup-
port services, the results of the survey provide a clear
indication that fathers are even less aware of the ser-
vices available to assist families with new children and
infrequently use those with which they are familiar.
While it is not surprising that fathers turn to their
partners when discussing parenting, depending on their
female partners primarily for information may not be
the best arrangement for many, especially if society
wishes to increase fathers' involvement with children.
However, barriers to fathers' use of the support ser-
vices clearly exist, beginning with a lack of information
directed specifically to fathers and male caregivers.
The Family Action Centre, University of Newcastle, re-
ceived funding from Hunter Families First, NSW
Department of Community Services, for this study. The
authors acknowledge the contribution of several people
who helped complete this project. We are indebted to
our hard-working team: Michelle Cifford, Camilla
McQualter, and Ken Bright. We are grateful to all the
fathers and mothers who participated in the New
Fathers Study.
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Family Services
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26The Journal of Perinatal Education Summer 2004, Vol. 13, No. 3
... A recent study found that men experience a broad range of challenging emotions in the transition to fatherhood but question the validity of their feelings during this time for fear of taking away professional support or attention from their partners [24], compounding a reticence to share these feelings. This questioning of feelings by fathers may well be influenced by the expectations and attitudes of service providers [25], gendered norms around "manning up" and other such unhelpful sentiments. Men with unrealistic expectations of parenthood and those who lack preparation for the emotional realities of fatherhood have been shown to display higher rates of perinatal distress [26]. ...
... In a study of both mothers and fathers, high levels of social support antenatally showed less postnatal distress at six weeks [29]. There are numerous studies describing men's inequitable experiences of antenatal support [12,25,30,31], labour and birth [32][33][34][35][36] and the first year of fatherhood [29,37,38]. Few of these, however, explain why new and expectant fathers feel dissatisfied with their experiences of perinatal service provision. ...
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Fathers in the UK are becoming more involved in the care of their infants and children. A constructivist grounded theory approach was adopted to explore men’s transition to fatherhood. This paper reports on one of the sub-categories derived from the data. First-time fathers with a child under two were recruited predominantly via social media. Audio-recorded semi-structured interviews were undertaken with an opening question asking men to tell their story of becoming a father. Interviews were transcribed and analysed using constructivist grounded theory methods. This paper reports one core aspect of the research findings which has particular relevance for healthcare professionals. The men in this study were highly appreciative of the care their partner and baby received but consistently reported a lack of father-specific support throughout their journey to fatherhood. This ranged from generally poor communication with healthcare professionals to being ignored and side-lined in maternity settings where they continued to be treated as visitors before, during and after the birth of their baby. Despite similar findings being reported over the last 30 to 40 years and policy directives emphasising the importance of working with fathers, change within healthcare services remains slow. Currently, fathers’ needs are not being adequately met by perinatal services.
... According to the opinion of most women, a woman's husband is the most important and closest person who can support her in coping with the problems by carefully understanding her sensitive psychological and physical condition [19]. Fletcher et al. showed that fathers' participation in classes before delivery was effective in their supportive role [20]. The results of various studies have shown that fathers' participation in pregnancy and childbirth care has positive consequences for the mother and baby, including reduced maternal stress, pregnancy complications (e.g., preterm delivery) and fear of childbirth, proper weight gain of premature infants, and successful breastfeeding. ...
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Abstract Background Primiparous women experience various challenges if not provided with social support in the early postpartum period. Support in form of postpartum education programs is needed to improve mental well-being in primiparous women. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of a postnatal supportive education program for husbands on the perceived social support (primary outcome), and stress and maternal self-efficacy (secondary outcome) of their primiparous wives. Methods This randomized clinical trial was performed on pregnant women referring to healthcare centers for routine care from September to November 2021 in Kermanshah, Iran. One hundred pregnant women were randomly divided in to intervention and control groups. Four 45–90 min online training sessions were held weekly for the husbands of the intervention group. The primiparous women completed the Postpartum Partner Support Scale, Perceived Stress Scale, and Postpartum Parental Expectations Survey before (third day after delivery, immediately and one month after completing the intervention. Data were analyzed using Fisher's exact test, Chi-square test, independent t-test, and repeated measures analysis of variance in SPSS version 24, and p 0.05), the mean scores of perceived social support (P = 0.11), maternal self-efficacy (p = 0.37) and perceived stress (p = 0.19) were not statistically significant. However, in the intervention group compared to the control group the mean scores of perceived social support (79.42 ± 7.17 vs. 37.26 ± 7.99, P
... increase father's knowledge on breastfeeding, helps to address some negative cultural perceptions related to breastfeeding. This is consistent with findings from other studies which found that fathers that attend antenatal clinic have better knowledge and are more involved in maternal and child health and nutrition [27]. ...
... Sebagian besar edukasi dalam kehamilan hanya berfokus meningkatkan pengetahuan ibu, belum melibatkan partisipasi suami secara penuh, demikian pula pada pelaksanaan kelas ibu hamil. Hal tersebut berdampak suami merasa bingung saat menjalankan perannya sebagai pendamping (Fletcher et al., 2005). (Ni Komang Erny Astiti, Ni Wayan Suarniti) Edukasi tentang kehamilan, persalinan, nifas dan perawatan bayi baru lahir telah difasilitasi dalam kegiatan kelas ibu hamil. ...
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Abstrak Edukasi perawatan bayi baru lahir diberikan sejak kehamilan, agar orang tua siap menjalankan perannya. Kenyataanya edukasi tersebut tidak optimal didapatkan dan minim melibatkan suami. Penelitian bertujuan merancang pembelajaran couple prenatal class dalam edukasi perawatan bayi baru lahir yang telah teruji secara internal. Penelitian ini merupakan Reseach And Development Design RND level 1, dengan subyek penelitian 100 ibu hamil dan suami yang dipilih secara cluster sampling. Analisis data secara deskriptif kuantitatif, selanjutnya dibuat rancangan pembelajaran serta dilakukan uji validitas internal. Hasil uji validitas internal rancangan pembelajaran kelas edukasi perawatan bayi baru lahir, didapatkan skor 3,93 (sangat valid). Kata Kunci : couple prenatal class; rancangan; perawatan bayi baru lahir Couple prenatal class design in education newborn care Abstract Newborn care education is given from pregnancy so parents can carry out their roles. The education could be more optimal and minimally involves the husband. The research aims to design a couple prenatal class learning in newborn care education that has been tested internally. This study was a level 1 RND, with the study subjects of 100 couples selected by cluster sampling. Descriptive quantitative analysis, a learning design is made, and an internal validity test is carried out. The results obtained a score of 3.93 (very valid).
... Pregnancy education only focuses on increasing the mother's knowledge; the husband's involvement is still limited so that in his daily life, the husband is not able to optimally carry out his role (5). Couple Prenatal Class is an innovative couple education class implemented in several midwifery services. ...
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p> Background : Pregnancy causes changes in physical and psychological. Sometimes it causes a maturation crisis. The husband's support is expected to be optimal. So far, pregnancy education has focused on the mother, so the husband cannot carry out his role optimally. Objective : This study aims to identify the information needs of couples about the materials, methods, media, repetitions, and duration of couple prenatal class in Badung Regency. Methods : This research is a mixed-method explanatory sequential. This research was conducted in Badung Regency with 100 couples . Data analysis went through the stages of transcription, reduction, coding, categorization and finding themes . T he results obtained six themes: subjects, functions, forms, awareness, quantity, and quality of health education . The next step is quantitative, the questionnaire contains the types of material needs, media, methods, duration and repetitions of health education needed by couples.The results of quantitative research were analyzed descriptive quantitatively. . Result : This study consisted of 6 themes that were used as the basis for compiling a quantitative research. This research questionnaire consists of 30 items which include material, media, method, duration and repetition of health information needs about pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum and newborn which are assessed with a Likert scale. The findings revealed that the most common pregnant topics were fetal stimulation, danger indicators, and complaints, as well as how to deal with them. Pain management strategies, the role of the husband, and early breastfeeding initiation are the essential delivery materials. Danger indicators, breastfeeding issues, and managing and caring for postpartum are the most needed during the postpartum time. Bathing and caring for the umbilical cord, growth, development, and massage are the essential newborn care items. Interactive media, hybrid approaches, duration, and repetition of material adapted to the urgency and demands of couples are all desirable learning media. Conclusion : The needs of couples for health education in a couple of prenatal classes are very varied, including materials, media, methods, duration, and repetitions. </p
... To this aim, preventative educational approaches have been recommended [19]. While the systematic review of literature shows the positive effects of social support and postnatal education on mothers' mental health[23], one out of three Australian fathers often miss this opportunity and do not receive proper social support and paternal education throughout the perinatal period [24]. According to Fletcher et al [25], many Australian fathers lack insight into the challenges that they are likely to face during pregnancy, in the birthing room and beyond, and mainly focus on acting as a support person for their partner. ...
... To this aim, preventative educational approaches have been recommended [19]. While the systematic review of literature shows the positive effects of social support and postnatal education on mothers' mental health[23], one out of three Australian fathers often miss this opportunity and do not receive proper social support and paternal education throughout the perinatal period [24]. According to Fletcher et al [25], many Australian fathers lack insight into the challenges that they are likely to face during pregnancy, in the birthing room and beyond, and mainly focus on acting as a support person for their partner. ...
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Transition into fatherhood is often marked by a period of adjustment, uncertainty and psychological distress and challenges for many men, along with social isolation and relationship problems. Risk factors for paternal mental health issues are maternal depression, marital distress, parenting stress, gender role stress, mismatched expectations for pregnancy and after childbirth, poor physical health, inadequate self-care behaviours, avoiding seeking help for mental health issues, and having a child with sleeping, feeding and temperament problems. Paternal depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder can have negative impacts on the social and emotional wellbeing of fathers, their partners and their children. Nevertheless, these issues are not widely acknowledged, recognised or treated. Men's mental health illness is a silent crisis. They often fail to seek help due to their feeling of shame, stigma for a lack of emotional control, distress or anxiety related to utilising mental health support services, and underrating the severity of their symptoms. These necessitate the need for timely attention, psychological support and proper education to minimise their risk of mental health issues. Although research has indicated fathers' inclination toward being included in practices such as the mental health assessment, perinatal education and postnatal educational approaches need to be inclusive of fathers and encourage them to seek support for their paternal mental health issues and parenting difficulties.
... Some participants said that even though they had already attended the antenatal class; they were still unsure and frustrated, because there might be some discrepancies between what was learnt in the class and a real situation. Research studies underline the importance of providing fathers with relevant health education to help them prepare adequately and adapt to the changes and challenges (Deave & Johnson, 2008;Fletcher, Silberberg, & Galloway, 2004;Nagamori et al., 2005) and prevent postnatal depression (Matthey, Kavanagh, Howie, Barnett, & Charles, 2004). Hence, tailor-made and culturally relevant perinatal professional education from healthcare professions was of the utmost importance to support parents for a healthy transition. ...
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The father's involvement in childrearing can positively influence health outcomes not only for the man himself, but also for his partner, and their children. However, the experience of first‐time fatherhood is limited in Chinese communities. The aim of this study is to explore men's experience of first‐time fatherhood and coping in Hong Kong. An exploratory qualitative design was used. A purposive sample of 44 first‐time Chinese fathers who had participated in a couple‐based cognitive‐behavioural intervention for postnatal depression were recruited for telephone interviews at 1–3 months postpartum. Data were collected by a semi‐structured interview guide and analysed using thematic analysis. The process involved in men's transition to first‐time fatherhood reveals four major themes: changes in daily life, new paternal roles and responsibilities, availability of resources to enhance adaptation, and coping strategies. The findings have implications for health care professionals and policy‐makers in the provision of comprehensive perinatal care and family‐friendly policies to aid men's transition to first‐time fatherhood in Chinese communities. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
In this chapter, Hodkinson and Das outline the mental health difficulties experienced by fathers in their study, the circumstances that contributed to them and the barriers fathers faced in coming to terms with and seeking support for their struggles. At the centre of the chapter’s findings are the ways in which fathers’ lack of preparation for having a baby and their positioning as peripheral yet stoic supporters of their partners had made it difficult for them to understand their feelings as legitimate or deserving support. The chapter demonstrates with evidence how these internal repertoires of illegitimacy led to spirals of guilt and made it particularly challenging for the fathers to communicate about and seek support for their difficulties.
Research to date has failed to demonstrate that antenatal classes help prepare women and men for the challenges of early parenting and family life. As part of a larger project, a longitudinal study examined: (1) Key features of the transition to parenthood for ‘low risk’ couples (n=106); (2) Co, pared the adjustments of couples (n=52) who participated in a new parent-infant programme, with couples (n=54) on a ‘waiting list’ control. The study found that (a) A substantial number of the ‘low risk’ women and their partners experienced psychological distress; (b) Concerns were different to the agenda of traditional antenatal classes; (c) Participation in the parent-infant programme led to a significant increase in psychological well-being, confidence as a parent and satisfaction with the couple and parent-infant relationship. Considerations regarding the focus of antenatal classes and the training of midwives as parent educators are raised.
The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of parent education and support programs designed specifically for fathers on paternal involvement and perceptions of parental competence. Subjects were 60 father‐child pairs assigned to treatment and “wait‐list” control groups. Treatment consisted of father‐child pairs participating in parent education/support group programs that met for two hours on ten consecutive Saturday mornings. Significant program effects were found on the fathers’ perceptions of parental competence, as well as nonworkday interaction, nonworkday accessibility, and responsibility forms of involvement. Results are discussed in terms of future research and program development efforts on father involvement.
Recent changes in the participation of women in paid employment, combined with an increased research interest in fathers, has led many social commentators and researchers to advocate the adoption of a shared parenting lifestyle. Little attempt has been made however, either to define shared parenting or to examine the possible antecedents and consequences of this family pattern. The present paper addresses these issues. It is argued that the critical factors in defining shared parenting are the acceptance and implementation of shared responsibilities for child management and socialization, combined with a shared contribution to providing for family needs for support and nurturance. Major findings from recent studies illustrate that although the adoption of such a pattern has many potential advantages, mothers and fathers both experience difficulties in adjusting to sharing responsibilities from their traditional domains. Proposals are put forward for changes in policies and practices which could help expand the options for families to adopt shared parenting. The need for policy integration and for equal status to be given to the options for women, men and children, are emphasised.† An earlier version of this paper was presented to a Children's Week Conference on “Equal Opportunities for all”, Newcastle, Australia, October 1984.
Currently there is tremendous support in the U.S. for increased parental involvement in early childhood settings. In addition, societal attitudes have changed recently, so that men are now expected to be much more involved in childrearing activities than in the past. Taken together, these two shifts in societal attitudes suggest the time is right to encourage greater father/male involvement in early childhood programs. However, such outreach efforts will face challenges. Based on the Men & Kids project in Urbana, Illinois, this paper identifies several specific challenges early childhood educators face as they explore ways to encourage greater levels of father/male involvement in their programs, along with preliminary suggestions for overcoming them.
Using data collected before and after birth of a couple's first child, change in each parent's view of men as fathers was investigated in a short-term longitudinal study. Semantic differential scales tapped the man's image of self as father, the woman's image of husband as father, and each parent's rating of the baby's adjustment. Interview questions provided information on circumstances of the birth, the father's early child care activities, and parents' previous child care experience. Men's judgments of their own effectiveness as fathers declined from before the birth to afterward. Wives' judgments of their husbands' effectiveness as fathers also declined over that same period, but wives rated husbands higher than husbands rated themselves at both times. A single-equation multiple regression model, adapted from a structural model, was estimated to explain change in both spouses' ratings of the man's paternal role competence. It revealed that working-class spouses agreed on the basis for their judgments of the father's role performance, in that both judged him mainly in terms of how much he participated in child care. Middle-class spouses disagreed on the basis for their judgments of fathers, however. The middle-class men rated their own performance in the father role mainly in terms of the baby's adjustment; if they judged the baby to be happier, they judged themselves to be more competent as fathers. The middle-class women did not rate fathers on that basis. Instead, the middle-class women's ratings responded to the circumstances of the birth and to the father's participation in child care chores. Findings are discussed in terms of family role theory, social-class differences in the father's role, and recent change in expectations for men's parental role.
Research has consistently demonstrated that the transition to parenthood is a stressful event. As well, the literature recognizes that the role of the father in North American society is in the process of change. The purpose of this qualitative study was to clarify our understanding of the experience of new fathers during the first 3 weeks postpartum. Twenty-two fathers were interviewed in their homes using a semi-structured interview format. Findings suggest that new fathers go through a predictable three-stage process during the transition to fatherhood. In addition, factors were identified which affect the transition. Nursing interventions were suggested to facilitate this process and implications for future study included.
The purpose of this study was to describe the experience of expectant and new fatherhood. The grounded theory method was used to gather data from 56 expectant and new fathers. Data were analyzed through the technique of constant comparative analysis. The essence of the experience of expectant and new fatherhood is laboring for relevance which consists of: (a) grappling with the reality of the pregnancy and child; (b) struggling for recognition as a parent from mate, coworkers, friends, family, baby, and society; and (c) plugging away at the role-making of involved fatherhood. Men were not recognized as parents but as helpmates or breadwinners which interfered with validation of the reality of the pregnancy or child. They felt excluded from the childbearing experience by their mates, health care providers, and society. Fathers found themselves without models to assist them in taking on the role of active and involved parent. The findings of this study promote greater understanding of the male experience of expectant and new parenthood and may serve as a beginning for the development of interventions to support and promote paternal behavior.