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Does antenatal education prepare fathers for their role as birth partners and for parenthood?

02 May 2015
11 min read
Volume 23 · Issue 5


A systematic review of the literature was undertaken to explore fathers' opinions and views on antenatal education and its effectiveness in preparing them for their role as birth partners and for parenthood. The findings are categorised under four key themes: outnumbered, excluded, anxious and uncertain, and preparedness. While research suggests that most fathers want to support their partners and be involved in the pregnancy, labour and birth of their baby, they are less likely to attend antenatal classes than women. While fathers who attend antenatal education classes value them, their experiences are not always as positive or helpful in preparing them for their role as birth partners or in parenthood. It was highlighted that men are more likely to feel unprepared when complications at birth arise. A common finding was that men would welcome the opportunity to focus on their individual needs.

Historically, pregnancy and birth have been a predominantly female affair (Robertson, 2007; Caltabiano and Castiglioni, 2008), with limited reports of men being involved in the pregnancy or being present at the birth (Kitzinger, 2010). King (2012) suggests that 1 in 10 men attended the birth of their baby in the 1950s, but these statistics have changed dramatically over the past 60 years (Andrews, 2012). A change in societal attitudes has seen fathers become more involved in pregnancy and birth (Sapkota et al, 2012); almost all fathers in industrialised countries are now present at the birth of their child(ren) (Dex and Joshi, 2005; Pestvenidze and Bohrer, 2007).

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