Nine men were interviewed at the antenatal clinic and labor ward of SekouToure Hospital in Tanzania. This provided the men an opportunity to explain their perspectives on support they provide or their feelings about support their wives should be given. The researchers recorded their comments, including the following.
1. The role of men is to support the health and wellbeing of mother and baby, including ensuring all aspects of birth preparedness.
2. Supporting women during pregnancy is a fulfilment of women’s rights.
3. Supporting women during pregnancy is part of a new lifestyle for men. Sometimes this causes confusion and unhappiness among others.
4. The support of men should extend to household chores.
5. Earning responsibilities can conflict with attending antenatal clinics.
6. Supporting the women strengthens the marital relationship.
7. Health facilities are often not set up well for men: lack of welcome, lack of information, lack of space, lack of opportunity to attend the birth.
Such messages by men provide valuable material for the effort to engage other men in maternal and newborn healthcare.
The researchers make four recommendations:
• Recognize the value of men’s roles in maternal health.
• Expand involvement of men during pregnancy and delivery.
• Improve health facilities to support the engagement of men.
• Organise mass education about the role of men in maternal and newborn health.
Kashaija DK, Mselle LT & Mkoka DA (2020), Husbands’ experience and perception of supporting their wives during childbirth in Tanzania, BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 20
Header photo: Adam Jones. Creative Commons.