Parental Perceptions and Experiences after Childbirth: A Comparison between Mothers and Fathers of Term and Preterm Infants

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Parents experience a lot of positive and negative feelings and emotions after birth. The main purpose of this study was to compare perceptions and experiences of mothers and fathers with term, moderately and very preterm infants.


We included 202 infants with both parents, divided into three groups: 1) term infants (≥ 37 weeks' gestation), 2) moderately preterm infants (≥32-<37 weeks' gestation) and 3) very preterm infants (< 32 weeks' gestation). The Clinical Interview for Parents of High-risk Infants (CLIP) was used to examine parental perceptions and experiences in eight areas: 1) Infant's current condition, 2) Course of the pregnancy, 3) Labor and delivery, 4) Relationship with infant and feelings as a parent, 5) Reactions to hospital and staff, 6) Support system, 7) Discharge and beyond, and 8) Quality of narratives during the interview.


The lower the gestational age of the infant, the more negative parental experiences and perceptions were on the following five areas: infant's current condition, pregnancy course, labor and delivery, relationship with the infant, and discharge and beyond. No differences were found between maternal and paternal perceptions on any of the eight CLIP areas.


Negative parental perceptions and experiences were mainly associated with the gestational age of the infant and not at all with the gender of the parent. These findings resulted in several recommendations to optimize care for parents after preterm birth.

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