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Husband-father’s perceptions of labour and delivery Leonard, Linda Gaye

Abstract

This study was concerned with the husband-father['s perceptions of labour and delivery, how he perceived his role during this period, and his perceptions of the nursing care provided to his wife and himself. Sample selection was by random sampling and included twenty husbands. All were Caucasian, Canadian or British born, between the ages of twenty-two and forty years of age, and all had attended prenatal classes. Eighteen fathers attended the delivery. Seventeen were fathers for the first time and three were fathers for the second time. Data were obtained via one hour-long interview with the husband during the first three days postpartum. An interview schedule was used and contained rating scales, fixed-alternative and open-end questions. The data were subsequently analyzed by single variance analysis, nonparametric (Chi-square) tests, and by content analysis of the open-end questions. Major findings were that labour and delivery were seen as positive experiences, delivery being the most positive; that husband focus during labour was on his wife until late second stage when it shifted to the baby and to his own feelings. Labour was stressful for many, their wives' pain being a major contributor to their uneasiness. The major function of the husband in labour was cited as providing moral support, encouragement, and the provision of bodily care to his wife. Most felt that they were effective in their role but needed to confirm this with their wives. Prenatal classes were viewed as having a positive influence oh husband attitudes toward labour and delivery. The attitudes and responses of the nurses during labour and delivery were noted as having a significant effect on the husband's confidence and relaxation. The major weakness of the nursing care was the inadequate assessment, explanation, and nurse contact time during the active phase and second stage of labour. The study results have implications for the prenatal preparation of,couples, for care of the parents during labour, delivery, and the early postpartum period. Recommendations for future study centered on the need for more information about husband-father response during labour and delivery, early responses to the newborn, and information about the effects of husband-father participation in childbirth on the husband-wife-child relationship.

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