Researchers have looked at the experience of men of colour of maternal health services. 12 men participated in focus groups, seven of whom had one or more children born preterm. Two had experienced a neonatal death after a preterm birth.
Two themes emerged that are different from research involving white men.
The researchers identified four themes from the focus groups, which they summarised as a diagram.
In relation to the “being a rock” theme, one father said:
“If I want to cry, you know I’m not going to cry because I can’t allow her to feel that I’m weak, but she needs to have that rock….that’s kind of our role and that’s what we have to do, so we do it, but that can be difficult.”
In relation to the “blessing” theme, another father said:
“Every day was scary….So we just kept strong in our faith….I’ll never forget because throughout the whole process there were so many people, complete strangers…and they would tell us like ‘I’m going to pray for you’….For me that was God in all those people.”
In relation to the information theme, a father said:
“I had to tell my doctor, ‘Tell me everything. I don’t want to have to read between the lines.’ I want to know everything because I just do, you know.”
The researchers make a series of recommendations on the basis of this research.
In terms of planning services, the researchers recommend consulting men of colour about service design, addressing lack of racial diversity within the healthcare profession, and ensuring accountability about the financial benefits gained by the hospital from insurance providers regarding different management plans.
The study took place as part of a bigger California Preterm Birth Initiative in the town of Fresno in California. The focus groups were co-facilitated by a man and woman.
In the USA, non-Hispanic Black women are most at risk of preterm birth with a rate of 13.6%, compared to Hispanic White women at 9.45% and non-Hispanic White women at 9.06%. The researchers quote a recent study finding an association between preterm birth rates and chronic worry about discrimination. Less father involvement is associated with higher risk of preterm birth and there are higher rates of paternal absence in communities of colour in the USA. For families with absent fathers, the risk of infant mortality may be four times higher in Black families than in White families.
Furthermore, Black and Hispanic/Latina women at risk for preterm birth have reported experiencing disrespect, inconsistent social support and stressful interactions with healthcare workers.
Edwards BN, McLemore MR, Baltzell K, Hodgkin A, Nunez O & Franck LS (2020), What about the men? Perinatal experiences of men of color whose partners are at risk of preterm birth, a qualitative study, BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 20
Header photo: Eli Braud. Creative Commons.