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Are male partners of pregnant women treated negatively in maternity care?

02 October 2017
12 min read
Volume 25 · Issue 10

Abstract

Background

There has been a significant cultural shift in attitudes towards male partners' involvement in maternity care, resulting in a cultural acceptance that male partners should be involved throughout pregnancy and birth. Anecdotal evidence, however, shows that male partners may still experience negative attitudes from obstetric and midwifery professionals.

Aim

To explore midwifery students' experiences of negative attitudes or behaviour directed toward male partners by women, midwives, and/or doctors during antenatal and intrapartum care.

Methods

An open online anonymous survey was used to collect data from 21 midwifery students.

Findings

Two main themes were revealed: observed negative behaviours, and behaviour reasoning. Each theme contained sveral sub-themes, namely aggression, exclusion, and condescension (observed negative behaviours), and excusable by pain, preoccupied, misplaced support and respectful inclusion (behaviour reasoning).

Conclusions

The accommodation of male partners into maternity settings does not always meet their needs, and is at time disempowering through negative attitudes and behaviours.

There has been a significant cultural shift regarding the inclusion of male partners in childbirth in Western societies since the 1960s (Hildingsson et al, 2011). Male partners are no longer barred from maternity services, but instead there is a demand for their presence and involvement from both women and men themselves (Alio et al, 2013; Redshaw and Henderson, 2013). Within the UK, more than 80% of men attend their partner's antenatal appointments and ultrasounds, compared with 32% in 1986 (Andrews, 2012). This cultural shift is a worldwide phenomenon, and can be seen in Australia, the United States, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and across the developing world (Steen et al, 2012; Aguiar and Jennings, 2015; He et al, 2015).

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