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Open Access 01-12-2022 | Coping Skills | Research

“It’s a lot of pain you’ve got to hide”: a qualitative study of the journey of fathers facing traumatic pregnancy and childbirth

Authors: A. Kothari, G. Bruxner, L. Callaway, J. M. Dulhunty

Published in: BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth | Issue 1/2022

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Abstract

Background

This study aims to explore the emotional and behavioural responses and coping strategies of fathers or expectant fathers who faced a significant traumatic event during a partner's pregnancy, labour, or the postpartum period.

Methods

This prospective qualitative study of 24 fathers was conducted at a public teaching hospital in Brisbane, Australia. ‘Traumatic pregnancy’ was defined as a pregnancy complicated by life-threatening or severe risk to the mother and the fetus, termination of pregnancy, intrauterine fetal death or stillbirth. Semi-structured interviews of participants were conducted 3-4 months after the traumatic event. An initial qualitative analysis with automatic coding was performed using Leximancer and later followed by a six-phase manual thematic analysis.

Results

A pregnancy-related traumatic event had significant mental and physical impacts on fathers. Participants' reactions and coping strategies were varied and influenced by their background history, pre-existing vulnerabilities, and the gap between expectation and reality. Most fathers described a fluctuating state between their needs 'not being met' and 'being met'. These needs were conceptualised using Maslow’s hierarchy and Calman’s gap theory to construct a composite thematic model to depict the universal requirements of men facing a traumatic pregnancy or childbirth.

Conclusions

A greater understanding of the needs of men and gaps in their care is urgently needed. A targeted effort is required to make maternity services father-inclusive. This approach may assist in preventing long term consequences on fathers, partners, and their children.
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Metadata
Title
“It’s a lot of pain you’ve got to hide”: a qualitative study of the journey of fathers facing traumatic pregnancy and childbirth
Authors
A. Kothari
G. Bruxner
L. Callaway
J. M. Dulhunty
Publication date
01-12-2022
Publisher
BioMed Central
Keyword
Coping Skills
Published in
BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth / Issue 1/2022
Electronic ISSN: 1471-2393
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1186/s12884-022-04738-4

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