A qualitative study in Iran has examined the views of mothers, fathers and professionals regarding the role of fathers during pregnancy and after childbirth. In some cases, women and men had similar views, and in some they differed. Nearly all the women and half the men said that the husband should be at the birth.
The study involved 12 pregnant women/new mothers, six of their husbands, and 27 professionals – carers, managers and policy makers.
In addition to attendance at the birth, a number of other points were made during the interviews.
- A husband should provide physical care for his wife during pregnancy. Generally everyone agreed with this.
- A husband should support the health of the mother and baby, for example, not smoking and being considerate about sex. The fathers did not mention these issues.
- A husband should support the mother’s nutrition during pregnancy. Both mothers and fathers mentioned this.
- A husband should be at home more during the pregnancy, to help the woman’s peace of mind. This point was made some of the women.
- On the other hand, an important role of the husband is economic. Mothers and fathers both said this.
- A husband should accompany his wife to ante- and postnatal clinics.
- A husband should provide emotional support to the mother, particularly when there are struggles and difficulties. This was emphasised mostly by the women. Aspects of emotional support raised in the interviews included empathy at time of difficulty, respect for the mother’s dignity, showing appreciation to her, giving her attention just after the birth, and being sensitive to postnatal depression.
- A husband should be fully involved in home life after the birth. This point was made by women. This included doing housework and reducing expectations on the mother in this regard.
- A husband should be involved in choosing the place of birth. Both mothers and fathers said this.
- A husband should participate in the direct care of the baby. If the baby is in neonatal care, this should include kangaroo care, particularly if the mother is not able to care for the baby.
- A husband should support breastfeeding. This was said by mothers.
The researchers make a series of recommendations for health services and policy to catch up with these changing attitudes.
- In order to reduce the pressure on husbands of expectations both to earn money and to be at home more, reduce the cost of delivery in a hospital and improve access to health insurance.
- Make hospitals father-friendly – physical space, staff training.
- Improve paternity leave provisions.
Firouzan V, Noroozi M, Mirghafourvand M & Farajzadegan Z (2018), Participation of father in perinatal care: a qualitative study from the perspective of mothers, fathers, caregivers, managers and policymakers in Iran, BMC Pregnancy andC Childbirth 18