A review of recent research on father involvement in pregnancy and childbirth has revealed the lack of a validated measure of involvement that covers all aspects and works across cultures. Having studied 31 articles from 2005 to 2015, the researchers recommend that a measure is developed that works across different cultures.
The studies identify a number of factors that influence the involvement of fathers:
- Information for fathers. When this is lacking, fathers not only lack important knowledge but can feel stressed by their ignorance.
- Beliefs by the father himself about what his role should be. These beliefs vary widely, and the relationship between beliefs and actual roles has not been adequately investigated.
- Relationship between mother and father. A positive relationship predicts greater involvement of the father, particularly when combined with a belief on his part he should be closely involved.
- The father’s relationship with his own parents. Good relationships are associated with higher involvement of the father in the pregnancy and childbirth. A poor relationship with his own father, however, has also been found to be a factor in fathers who engage substantially in pregnancy and childbirth.
- First-time fathers are likely to be more involved. Younger and more educated men tend to be more involved, though the research is not conclusive on this.
The researchers conclude that much needs to be done to describe and understand father involvement in pregnancy and childbirth across the globe. The studies are also weak on ethnic and cultural diversity.
Xue WL, Shorey S, Wang W & He H-G (2018), Fathers’ involvement during pregnancy and childbirth: An integrative literature review, Midwifery 62