Involving fathers in maternity care
Student midwife Paulina Sporek discusses the need to involve fathers in antenatal education to ensure they are engaged in parenthood from the start of pregnancy.
The recognition of the physicality of motherhood is obvious—the woman shows abdominal enlargement and ultimately gives birth to a baby. Fatherhood, however, is not at all like that: the changes that the father experiences are not visible and they may, therefore, feel detached from becoming a parent. These emotions might be highlighted in many cultures where rules dictate that the father should stay away from the birth.
As a consequence of the primary focus of antenatal education on the needs of mothers, many fathers remain unprepared for their personal transition to the parenthood. Current research suggests that one-in-three fathers felt like ‘onlookers’ rather than involved in antenatal care (Miller, 2013). A body of evidence found that 80% of men attend at least one antenatal appointment, and most fathers attend an ultrasound scan of their baby (TNS System Three, 2005). These figures suggest that men would like to be included in the antenatal experience and be prepared before the birth and for parenthood (Andrews, 2012).
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