Development of appropriate interventions to increase male involvement in pregnancy and childbirth is vital to strategies for improving health outcomes of women with obstetric complications. The objective was to gain a deeper understanding of their experiences of male involvement in their partners’healthcare during pregnancy and childbirth.
The findings might inform interventions for increasing men’s involvement in reproductive health issues.
Methods: We conducted 16 in-depth interviews with men who came to the hospital to attend to their spouses/partners admitted to Mulago National Referral Hospital. All the spouses/partners had developed severe obstetric complications and were admitted in the high dependency unit.
We sought to obtain detailed descriptions of men’s experiences, their perception of an ideal “father”and the challenges in achieving this ideal status. We also assessed perceived strategies for increasing male participation in their partners’healthcare during pregnancy and childbirth.
Data was analyzed by content analysis.
Results: The identified themes were: Men have different descriptions of their relationships; responsibility was an obligation; ideal fathers provide support to mothers during childbirth; the health system limits male involvement in childbirth; men have no clear roles during childbirth, and exclusion and alienation in the hospital environment. The men described qualities of the ideal father as one who was available, easily reached, accessible and considerate.
Most men were willing to learn about their expected roles during childbirth and were eager to support their partners/wives/spouses during this time. However, they identified personal, relationship, family and community factors as barriers to their involvement.
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