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“Paddling upstream”: Fathers' involvement during pregnancy as described by expectant fathers and mothers
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Caring Sciences. Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Medicinska och farmaceutiska vetenskapsområdet, centrumbildningar mm, Centre for Clinical Research, County of Västmanland. (vårdvetenskap Uppsala universitet)
Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL,.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Caring Sciences. (vårdvetenskap Uppsala universitet)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2172-6527
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Caring Sciences. (vårdvetenskap Upsala universitet)
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2015 (English)In: Journal of Clinical Nursing, ISSN 0962-1067, E-ISSN 1365-2702, Vol. 24, no 7-8, 77 p.1059-1068 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Aims and objectives

To describe the perspectives of expectant mothers and fathers on fathers' involvement during pregnancy.

Background

Becoming a father is a major life event and paternal involvement during pregnancy has a positive influence on the family. However, research into both expectant mothers' and fathers' perspectives on fathers' involvement during pregnancy is relatively scarce.

Design

A descriptive qualitative study was used.

Methods

Thirty expectant parents (20 women and 10 men) were interviewed either as part of one of four focus groups or in an individual interview. Qualitative content analysis was performed on the interview transcripts.

Results

A theme of 'Paddling upstream' emerged as an expression of the latent content of the interviews concerning perspectives on fathers' involvement. Five sub-themes described the manifest content: trying to participate, trying to be understanding, trying to learn, trying to be a calming influence and trying to find a balanced life. Expectant parents suggested several ways to improve fathers' involvement and to meet parents' need for shared involvement.

Conclusion

Expectant mothers and fathers wanted the father to be more involved in the pregnancy. Although fathers attempted different strategies, they did not always perceive what was expected of them and encountered many barriers as they tried to navigate through this unique experience. The best support for the father was the mother. Expectant parents wanted their healthcare to include the father more thoroughly and to focus on the whole family.

Relevance to clinical practice

Prenatal care professionals can overcome barriers that prevent paternal involvement. Although fathers are not able to engage in the pregnancy on the same level as the mother, we suggest that their specific needs also be recognised through an increased awareness of gender norms in healthcare.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 24, no 7-8, 77 p.1059-1068 p.
National Category
Nursing
Research subject
Caring Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-237058DOI: 10.1111/jocn.12784ISI: 000351633800017PubMedID: 25662781OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-237058DiVA: diva2:766331
Available from: 2014-11-26 Created: 2014-11-26 Last updated: 2017-12-05
In thesis
1. Journey from Pregnancy to Early Parenthood: Perceived Needs of Support, Fathers’ Involvement, Depressive Symptoms and Stress
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Journey from Pregnancy to Early Parenthood: Perceived Needs of Support, Fathers’ Involvement, Depressive Symptoms and Stress
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Aims: The overall aim was to describe the perceived needs for support and fathers’ involvement among expectant parents, and to examine depressive symptoms and parental stress in early parenthood among mothers and fathers.

Methods: Two qualitative studies using focus groups and individual interviews, and three quantitative comparative studies using three questionnaires were conducted.

Results: The expectant parents had different needs and suggestions for health-care improvement. One improvement of these was better involvement of expectant fathers, as fathers were described as the mothers’ best means of support and also had needs of their own. The fathers used different strategies to get involved during the pregnancy, but sometimes found it difficult to know what was expected of them. The mothers perceived more depressive symptoms and parental stress than the fathers. The mothers also perceived higher dyadic consensus than the fathers. Parents with depressive symptoms reported lower consensus than those without. There was a negative correlation between dyadic consensus and depressive symptoms in both mothers and fathers. Mothers perceived higher parental stress than fathers in the sub-areas ‘Incompetence regarding parenthood’, ‘Role restriction’, ‘Spouse relationship problems’, and ‘Health problems’, and overall. In contrast, fathers perceived higher stress than mothers in the sub-area ‘Social isolation’. Low education, lack of a role model and poor sense of coherence promoted more stress in mothers in the sub-areas ‘Social isolation’ and ‘Spouse relationship problems’, while lack of a role model and low sense of coherence promoted stress in fathers in the sub-area ‘Social isolation’.

Conclusions and clinical implications: The expectant parents’ needs of support were not consistent with the support offered from health care services. These services need to become more client-centred, for example by offering customized individual support and peer support in groups. Further, they should also meet the needs of expectant fathers which can benefit the whole family. To promote parents’ health and family stability, health professionals should consider depressive symptoms and parental stress. They should also take gender norms into account so that parents become prepared for parenthood and get adequate support during early parenthood.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2015. 73 p.
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Medicine, ISSN 1651-6206 ; 1057
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-237088 (URN)978-91-554-9119-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-01-28, Samlingssalen, Ingång 29, Västmanlands sjukhus, Västerås, 13:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2014-12-18 Created: 2014-11-26 Last updated: 2015-02-03

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Widarsson, MargaretaTyden, TanjaLundberg, Pranee

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