A review of seven articles about male participation in antenatal care, covering India, Malawi South Africa, Kenya and Nepal, found a very mixed picture of correlations with outcomes.
For example, the studies showed that women’s knowledge of danger signs was slightly more among those whose partners were involved, but there was no difference in birth preparedness. Use of antenatal clinics was not greater, but institutional delivery was, as was use of postnatal clinics. There was some positive correlation with breastfeeding.
The researchers, Caroline Aguiar and Larissa Jennings at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in USA, make the point that it rather depends on the quality of the engagement with the men – their reception and the timing of services, for example.
In the view of the Family Included team, this study shows that it is not the attendance of men in antenatal care per se that makes a difference, but the method of engaging them. What is needed is not more studies testing single approaches, but many hundreds of local innovations across the world, with results that are communicated and accessible, so that practitioners everywhere can find out what works in different contexts and continue the innovation in their own services. This is what Family Included aims to do.
Aguiar C & Jennings L (2015), Impact of male partner antenatal accompaniment on perinatal health outcomes in developing countries: a systemic literature review, Maternal & Child Health 19
Photo: UNICEF Ethiopia. Creative Commons.