A study of 966 fathers in the Dodoma Region, Central Tanzania, explored the extent to which they were involved in supporting their wives during the perinatal period and what factors influence the level of their engagement.
Just under 90% of the fathers reported that they were involved in planning for care.
About 80% of the fathers reported providing physical support to their wife in the perinatal period.
Two thirds of the fathers accompanied their wives to the health facility at least once, though only one fifth reported any discussion with health professionals during the perinatal period.
Only 1.6% of the fathers accompanied their wives during the birth itself.
Factors found to be associated with greater involvement during the perinatal period were the following:
- Having more than four children
- Having good access to information.
- Having good communication with their wife.
- Not having to wait long at the health clinic.
- Living in a rural area. This is possibly because more travel is required necessitating more men to be involved in assisting their partners to get to the health clinics. Also in rural areas there are more safe motherhood programmes, which may be leading to greater awareness of health services.
There were ethnic differences. Belonging to the Gogo ethnic group was associated with greater involvement on average. Christians were on average more involved than Muslims. No differences in involvement between men in monogamous and in polygamous families were revealed in the study.
Fathers who reported poorer attitudes by health professionals were more likely to report greaterparticipation in the process. This could indicate a protective response of fathers in response to fears of bad treatment of their wives.
The researchers recommend health promotion “to empower men with essential information for meaningful involvement in antenatal care services. Future interventions should address among others: cultural competence of providers in involving men accompanying their spouses in the ANC service model as well as creating couple-friendly reproductive health services.”
The research was carried out by means of interviewer-administered questionnaires containing open and closed questions.
Gibore NS, Ezekiel MJ, Meremo A, Munyogwa MJ &Kibusi SM (2019), Determinants of men’s involvement in maternity care in Dodoma Region, Central Tanzania, Hindawi Journal of Pregnancy
Gibore NS, Bali TAL &Kibusi SM (2019), Factors influencing men’s involvement in antenatal care services: A cross-sectional study in a low resource setting, Central Tanzania, Reproductive Health 16
Photo: ywammadison. Creative Commons.