Nigerian fathers of neonatal babies want to be closer to their babies

Nigerian fathers

A study of the experience of 37 Nigerian fathers of babies in the neonatal unit in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, has revealed a low level of family inclusion. 73% of fathers would have liked to have more contact with their babies. There are no family rooms in the unit and no designated resting places. Some fathers slept overnight in their cars. 60% of the fathers felt the physical layout of the unit was not conducive to fathers. Father-baby connections were limited; skin-to-skin care, for example, is reserved for mothers only.

The satisfaction levels of fathers – a measure of the difference between expectation and experience – were positive. 67% of the fathers felt welcomed by staff, 87% regarded nurses as friendly and welcoming and 82% felt adequately informed.

The study found that fathers were stressed by the experience. 63% described stress in response to factors such as financial pressure, illness of the mother and the care of older siblings. 38% were worried by the medical procedures and equipment used on their babies.

The researchers recommend more care for fathers of babies on neonatal units, both within and without the hospital.


Opara PI & Alinnor EA (2019), Experiences of fathers admitted into a neonatal unit in a tertiary hospital in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, Journal of Advances in Medicine and Medical Research, 29.1

Photo: SIM USA. Creative Commons.