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First-time fathers' experiences attending labour and birth: a descriptive cross-sectional study

02 August 2022
15 min read
Volume 30 · Issue 8

Abstract

Background

It is now more common for fathers to participate in labour and childbirth in Iran. As such, it is essential to examine their experiences in order to empower maternal care specialists to meet fathers' and mothers' needs more effectively. This study aimed to examine first-time fathers' experiences attending labour and birth.

Methods

This descriptive cross-sectional study recruited 200 first-time fathers in Tehran, Iran. Self-reported data were collected on participants' experiences of labour and birth. Descriptive and inferential statistics, as well as multivariate linear regression analysis were used to analyse the data.

Results

First-time fathers' overall experiences were significantly affected by their partner's education, insurance coverage for hospital charges, pregnancy care provision by an obstetrician-gynaecologist, preparedness for childbirth and whether the childbirth experience fit the father's expectations.

Conclusions

Counseling programmes based on fathers' needs should be developed to improve their experiences, allay concerns and adjust factors that shape their experiences in order to encourage fathers' participation in labour and birth.

Becoming a first-time father is a major life event. Fathers' experiences of their first child's birth is also significant in their relationship with mother and infant (Premberg et al, 2012). Fathers' emotions may not be prioritised because of mothers' dominant role, as well as a lack of support and training during pregnancy, and fathers may not be fully prepared for their role (Sapountzi-Krepia et al, 2010). Some men describe fatherhood as undesirable and disappointing as a result (McKellar et al, 2008). First-time fathers experience a change in their identity and an altered relationship with their spouse (Barclay and Lupton, 1999). They must also manage evolving and complex emotions to establish a relationship with their child. This process begins with the onset of their partner's pregnancy and includes the experience of fatherhood during birth (Hildingsson et al, 2014). Although men express happiness and excitement about the birth of their first child, they also report concerns about parenthood because they feel unprepared or uncertain about their partner's expectations of them as fathers (Deave et al, 2008, Hildingsson et al, 2014).

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