Interesting research summary in Society Now:
'Many first time fathers continue to feel like a ‘spare part’ during their partner’s pregnancy, despite increasing recognition by antenatal and maternity healthcare services of the need to involve and
engage men throughout pregnancy.
But, interestingly, a small study of first time fathers aged 22-58 found that although men were at times frustrated by their lack of involvement, most participants felt this was entirely appropriate because antenatal and postnatal appointments were primarily about looking after the health and
wellbeing of their partner and child.
“Men tended to enter into the process of becoming a father having already determined that they were less important, and that it would be wrong, and inappropriate, for them to try and make healthcare consultations ‘about them’,” explains researcher Dr Jonathan Ives. “By putting aside their own concerns, not raising their own thoughts and fears, and adopting a deferential and supporting role, men felt they were doing the right thing in terms of being ‘good men’ and ‘good partners’.”
The study points out that some experiences with health services might re-inforce the perceived
appropriateness of this ‘deferential role’ and validate the idea for men that they were less important. Significantly, Dr Ives points out, “routine and apparently innocuous actions by healthcare staff (like pulling a curtain) can be interpreted by men as exclusionary practices because these actions fit their expectations and the role that they feel is morally appropriate.”
Such insight into men’s feeling of exclusion could be usefully incorporated into the teaching of
midwives and health visitors, Dr Ives suggests.'