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Original Research

Open Access

Fatherhood during COVID-19: fathers' perspectives on pregnancy and prenatal care

  • Natalie S. Poulos1
  • Mike Henson García2,†
  • Lindsay Bouchacourt3,†
  • Michael Mackert3,†
  • Dorothy J. Mandell1,†

1Department of Community Health, The University of Texas at Tyler, Tyler, TX 75708, USA

2Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston – Dallas Regional Campus, School of Public Health, Dallas, TX 75390, USA

3Stan Richards School of Advertising & Public Relations, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, USA

DOI: 10.31083/jomh.2021.119

Submitted: 14 July 2021 Accepted: 20 August 2021

Online publish date: 15 September 2021

*Corresponding Author(s): Natalie S. Poulos E-mail: npoulos@utsystem.edu

† These authors contributed equally.

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Abstract

Background and objective: In early 2020, the novel COVID-19 virus arrived in the United States and resulted in broad, sweeping changes to safety procedures within healthcare settings, including prenatal care settings. While implemented to protect both providers and patients, this protocol limited fathers' ability to attend prenatal care appointments. At this time, limited research has been published on the effects of COVID-19 healthcare protocols on fathers' experiences and perceptions of prenatal care and parenting. This study aimed to understand how COVID-19 affected expectant fathers and fathers with newborns perceptions and experiences during pregnancy, prenatal care, and early parenting.

Materials and methods: Structured interviews were completed with fathers expecting a child and fathers with children born after March 2020. Interviews were completed by video conference and recorded. Audio from each interview was transcribed. Content and thematic analysis was performed.

Results: In total, 34 fathers were interviewed. Three broad themes were identified from the data including changing prenatal care policies that did not consider fathers, unique stressors associated with COVID-19, and isolation's negative impact on connecting to the pregnancy and support. Fathers reported limited engagement with the prenatal care system due to pandemic-related organizational and systematic changes in healthcare delivery. Results also suggest that fathers experienced elevated feelings of both stress and isolation from the pregnancy and prenatal care.

Conclusions: Ultimately, this study highlights the need for providers and organizations to develop strategies for transforming prenatal healthcare delivery into inclusive, family centered care during emergency situations, as well as use this opportunity to build family centered care into normal prenatal care operations.

Keywords

Fatherhood; COVID-19; Pregnancy; Parenting; Qualitative research

Cite and Share

Natalie S. Poulos,Mike Henson García,Lindsay Bouchacourt,Michael Mackert,Dorothy J. Mandell. Fatherhood during COVID-19: fathers' perspectives on pregnancy and prenatal care. Journal of Men's Health. 2021.doi:10.31083/jomh.2021.119.

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