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Fathers' Coping Style, Antenatal Preparation, and Experiences of Labor and the Postpartum

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Background:In recent years the trend for fathers in Western postindustrial countries to attend childbirth has increased. This study examined the interaction between fathers' information-seeking coping predispositions and their level of attendance at antenatal classes with respect to their experiences of attending childbirth. Associations between fathers' childbirth experiences, their relationship with their baby, and level of depressive symptomatology at 6 weeks postpartum were also examined.Methods:A quantitative methodology was employed in which 78 fathers completed several questionnaires, some within 6 days of childbirth and others at 6 weeks postpartum.Results:Fathers who were characterized as high blunters (avoiders) of threat information, from antenatal classes reported that experiencing childbirth was less fulfilling than fathers with similar coping styles who did not attend classes. Fathers' reports of fulfillment and delight while attending childbirth were negatively related to their level of depressive symptomatology at 6 weeks postpartum. Levels of distress were associated with subsequent depressive symptoms, but their effect was removed when preexisting depressive symptoms were partialled out. Fathers whose children were born by cesarean delivery used significantly more negative adjectives to describe their baby at 6 weeks postpartum compared with those born by vaginal delivery. More married fathers attended antenatal classes and reported lower levels of depressive symptomatology than unmarried fathers.Conclusions:Although fathers' attendance at antenatal classes may have positive consequences for them and their partner, for some fathers, attendance at classes may be associated with less positive reports of experiencing childbirth. The way in which men experience childbirth may have some influence on their subsequent emotional well-being. (BIRTH 27:3 September 2000)
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2000-09-01

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