Skin-to-Skin Contact Facilitates More Equal Parenthood - A Qualitative Study From Fathers' Perspective

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Abstract

Design and Methods

A descriptive design was used where 20 fathers of premature infants were interviewed using a semi-structured interview-guide. The guide contained the following five topics: the fathers' feelings about and experiences of using skin-to-skin contact (SSC), the physical environment at the Neonatal Intensive Care unit, staff attitudes, and whether SSC had any impact on the relationship with their partner and other children in the family. The interviews were analyzed using directed qualitative content analysis and the results compared with those of a qualitative systematic review by Anderzén-Carlsson and colleagues.

Results

The result shows that the fathers' overall experience of SSC was positive and as in the aforementioned review, they described experiences that were both gratifying and challenging. They felt more included and just as important as the mother because SSC and the demands placed on them by the premature birth helped them to achieve more equal parenthood.

Conclusion

The fathers' overall experiences of SSC were positive as they felt included in their infants' care and just as important as the mothers. To a great degree the theoretical model tested was supported, although some weaknesses and differences were identified.

Practical Implications

It is important to include fathers in neonatal care and recognize that they feel equally important as mothers in caring for premature infants.

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