'It's the first scientific evidence': Men's experience of pregnancy confirmation - some findings from a longitudinal ethnographic study of transition to fatherhood

Draper, Jan (2002). 'It's the first scientific evidence': Men's experience of pregnancy confirmation - some findings from a longitudinal ethnographic study of transition to fatherhood. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 39(6) pp. 563–570.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2648.2002.02325.x


Background and aims. In contrast to women�s experiences of motherhood, there has been comparatively little research investigating men�s experience of the transition to fatherhood and how changing cultural perspectives contribute to the contemporary experience of fathering. This paper draws on the findings of a larger ethnographic study of men�s transition to fatherhood in the United Kingdom (UK) and discusses men�s experiences of pregnancy confirmation.

Methods. A longitudinal ethnographic approach was chosen to investigate men�s real life accounts of their transition to fatherhood. A mixture of inovice and experienced fathers (n ¼ 18) were recruited from antenatal classes in the north of the UK during 1998. Semi-structured interviews were conducted on three occasions, twice during their partner�s pregnancy and once afterwards.

Findings. Framed by the context of the contemporary construction of involved fatherhood, the men frequently spoke of their desire to be involved with their partner�s pregnancy and yet reported difficulty in engaging with its reality. They nevertheless participated in a range of activities � body-mediated-moments � which brought them closer to their partner�s pregnant body and therefore their unborn baby. These activities centred on pregnancy confirmation, announcement, foetal movements, the ultrasound scan, and culminated in their presence during labour and delivery. This paper discusses their involvement in the process of pregnancy confirmation.

Conclusion. The men�s experiences of early pregnancy were marked forcefully by their involvement in the confirmation process. This activity gave men entry into a physical dimension, helping them forge an involvement in the pregnancy and shape their early transition to fatherhood.

Implications for practice. The study has provided insight into expectant men�s experiences of pregnancy and contributed to the understanding of the changing nature of contemporary fatherhood in the UK. Recognition of men�s changing roles in pregnancy, and greater insight into their experiences should be of relevance to all those supporting the transition to parenthood, including midwives, obstetricians, ultrasonographers and childbirth educators. Such increased awareness should inform the antenatal support given to men and reinforce the importance of relevant antenatal preparation that effectively meets the needs of not only expectant women, but also expectant men.

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