Fathers in Prenatal Care: A TFP Research Project

featured-partnerThe Fatherhood Project, in collaboration with Hiyam Nadel, RN and her staff at the MGH Vincent Department of Obstetrics, has developed an innovative research initiative to increase father involvement in prenatal care. Existing research demonstrates that fathers who are engaged in their children’s lives early are more likely to remain involved, and a father’s active participation and emotional engagement with his children leads to improved social, emotional, academic and behavioral outcomes throughout the child’s life.

To our knowledge, this project is the first of its kind in the United States. With the leadership of Director of Research, Milt Kotelchuck, PhD, and input from Hiyam’s staff, TFP created a survey about fathers’ experiences during  prenatal visits, which will be distributed to upwards of 200 fathers a day at Vincent Obstetrics. The survey’s findings will be used to develop innovative curriculum, materials, and individual and group interventions for new and expectant fathers, as well as to train healthcare providers on how to improve the patient experience for fathers.

Hiyam and her staff are an invaluable part of this research project. She and her team work with us enthusiastically, offering suggestions and expertise. Open to self-reflection and to learning more about themselves and fathers, they are dedicated improving the patient experience and meeting the needs of fathers. Their expertise, creativity, and foresight is integral to the success of the program.

To give you better sense of what’s in the survey, we’ve highlighted a range of questions below:

  • Participation in the pregnancy…
    • “How often do you go with the baby’s mother to prenatal visits?”
    • “Are you planning to take time off work once the baby is born?”
  • Preparation for fatherhood…
    • “How much have you talked with the baby’s mother about becoming a father?”
    • “Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? I feel confident in my abilities as a father.”
  • Perception of Vincent OB (the staff, the office environment, etc.)
    • “Overall, has the full Vincent Obstetrics staff at the prenatal visits helped you to feel that you, as a father are an important part of the birth experience?
    • Did the person who talked to you about the image of the baby (ultrasound doctor) ask you questions?
  • Resources for new & expecting fathers
    • “Would you have liked more information about being a father and/or pregnancy’s impact on men (and fathers) during the visit today?”
    • Would more time and attention to fathers in childbirth classes be helpful to you as a father?”

We look forward to sharing the results of our survey and the subsequent materials, programs and trainings in the coming months. In the meantime, we want to hear from you on this subject, either as a new or expectant parent, or as a healthcare provider. Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

One response to “Fathers in Prenatal Care: A TFP Research Project

  1. After reading the above. It opens many doors relating to fathers-to-be. As a Birth Educator/Birth Partner in the UK. I see many fathers who do not ask any questions. The focus is solely on the expectant mother. Even if abnormalities exist, fathers at not be involved 100%. It’s because the focus is for the mother and baby. Naturally, wanting to see both safe from beginning to end is paramount. However, fathers DO play a great AND important part in the pregnancy. For those who are with the mother in those crucial months. They (dads) try to do their best to look after mother and baby. Dads know that their future is being developed and by protecting, securing, loving, caring and maintaining the woman who carries his future gives him the reason to live. EVERY man, no matter how many children he has will want the best for them. I don’t think that fathers are valued enough on the pregnancy path. Yes, there are many women who are pregnant on their own either by circumstance or by choice. And they get through to the end too. However, deep down in the DNA of a female she wishes for a male to help with that development. It’s in the nature of the male to do that for the female.

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