AIMS AND OBJECTIVES:
To describe the perspectives of expectant mothers and fathers on fathers' involvement during pregnancy.
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.
A descriptive qualitative study was used.
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.
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.
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.
2015. Vol. 24, 1059-1068 p.