Researchers in Iran have recommended that health care providers allow husbands, if wives wish, to participate in perinatal care, including antenatal classes. This will require a change of attitude on the part of health managers and changes to the physical structure of health centres. Most hospitals in Iran are already moving towards allowing husbands to attend the birth.
These conclusions were reached after interviewing five pregnant/recently pregnant women, seven husbands and nine professionals (health managers & ministry policy makers) in the city of Qom.
Through these interviews, the researchers formed a picture of beliefs about husbands’ roles in the perinatal period.
Husbands should show emotional understanding: understanding his wife’s situation; encouraging her; being tolerant and making sacrifices; and upholding the family’s faith. They should also show cognitive understanding: being informed about pregnancy risks, the birth and fatherhood; and seeing pregnancy and childbirth as a mutual role involving full engagement and sharing of responsibility.
Husbands also need to be engage practically: prioritising home over work and helping in the home with housework, care of children and finance; engaging in planning; actively being involved if things go wrong during the pregnancy; helping with transport to the hospital; and attending the scan and, if allowed, the birth.
Respondents saw a variety of benefits from positive involvement of husbands: a better marital relationship and stronger family solidarity; more financial security; stronger father-child relationship; the mother feeling respected; and improved health of mother and baby.
Mehran N, Hajian S, Simbar M & Majd HA (2020), Spouse’s participation in perinatal care: A qualitative study, BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 20
Header photo: Hamed Saber. Creative Commons.