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SHORT COMMUNICATION
Year : 2018  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 25-26

A second victim of pregnancy: “Phobic first-time expectant fathers”


Assistant Professor in Nursing, College of Nursing , Al- Ahsa, King Saud bin Abdul-Aziz University for Health Sciences, Ministry of National Guard Health Affairs, King Abdul-Aziz Hospital, Al Ahsa 31982, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Date of Web Publication24-Jan-2018

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Thilagavathy Ganapathy
Assistant Professor in Nursing, College of Nursing, Al- Ahsa, King Saud bin Abdul-Aziz University for Health Sciences, Ministry of National Guard Health Affairs, King Abdul-Aziz Hospital, Al Ahsa 31982
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/mjmsr.mjmsr_62_17

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  Abstract 

A positive paradigm shift is required in reproductive child health services, from a women-centric care to a broader family perspective with the focus firmly on men-friendly hospital initiatives to promote healthier concepts of fatherhood within families.

Keywords: Anxiety, first time expectant fathers, pregnancy


How to cite this article:
Ganapathy T. A second victim of pregnancy: “Phobic first-time expectant fathers”. Muller J Med Sci Res 2018;9:25-6

How to cite this URL:
Ganapathy T. A second victim of pregnancy: “Phobic first-time expectant fathers”. Muller J Med Sci Res [serial online] 2018 [cited 2020 Apr 10];9:25-6. Available from: http://www.mjmsr.net/text.asp?2018/9/1/25/223921

Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.

Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.

-Marie Curie


  Introduction Top


First-time expectant fathers experience tremendous fear and anxiety during their partners' pregnancy, which may be compounded by Freudian male egoism in communicating with reproductive health-care personnel. By tradition, all pregnant women, in particular the primigravidae, are the center point of undivided care and attention by the family members. The pregnant woman is an epitome of holistic care throughout her journey of reproduction, whereas the first-time expectant fathers are totally ignored and the resultant psychological, social, and physical change during the first-time paternal hood transition subjects them to situational phobic disorders. Understanding first-time pregnant male partners' experiences is important to govern the attitudes of safe fatherhood health-care providers to support men during this significant phase of life cycle. Research [1] indicates that 1 in 20 men experience elevated antenatal psychological distress during their wives' pregnancy associated with extreme stress, anxiety, depression, and poor health. Expectant fathers with anxiety may feel frustrated, trapped, or housed in a cage and manifest outbursts of anger and resentment that lead to guilt and shame.


  Discussion Top


Pregnancy is a joyful phase of life where men and women view it differently in their own terms. Although men rejoice the period of conception, they silently suffer and panic internally, doubting their capabilities in shouldering the upcoming responsibilities, however well prepared they are. Paternal prenatal period is extremely a vulnerable time for poor mental and emotional health for expectant men which can have an excruciating effect on their functioning, family relationships, and well-being.

During pregnancy, a complex paternal developmental process takes place, and men experience mixed feelings ranging from overwhelming joy, happiness to anxiety, and phobia.[2] Evidence [3] informs that almost 73% of first-time expectant fathers worry about their partner's mental health, while only 38% have concerns about their own psychosocial well-being. The intense pressure of impending fatherhood, changing lifestyles, and intimate partner's suffering coupled with developmental changes from single to dyadic to triadic life may all affect the expectant men's internal well-being. Recent research [4] findings revealed that vast majority (90.11%) of first-time pregnant male members experience psychological symptoms of insomnia, mood swings, irritability nightmares, fear of unknown, disinterest in routine activities, emotional outburst, guilt, resentment, and sense of isolation. Men, in general, are reluctant to report any psychological symptoms due to the fear of social stigmatization, and the manifestation of the psychological distress may vary widely from simple to complex. Comprehensive family-centered care needs to be provided by preventive obstetric care providers to address the changing needs that at-risk expectant fathers experience to facilitate positive paternal adjustment.

Early identification and prevention of paternal prenatal fear will be beneficial not only for men but also for women, children, and the family well-being. Reproductive health personnel need to redefine the women-oriented care to an integrated quartet family-centered model of care where men–women–child–family friendly services are provided to prevent family violence. In the general population, the transition for the women to motherhood is clearly defined than for men to fatherhood and the fragmented maternity services are customized to meet the demands of women, ignoring the men. In addition, perinatal mental health research limits its scope to maternal experiences of psychological well-being, problems, its manifestations, course of illness, treatment, prevention, and barriers to seek and access help, marginalizing paternal needs. A recent study [5] reports that 94.74% of new expectant men honestly struggle with the need to balance their own transition to paternal hood and that of their partners and experience pregnancy blues accompanied by deterioration in mental well-being. A major paradigm shift is required in maternal–child health-care services from women-centric obstetric care to men-centric services to take account of expectant fathers' experiences and expectations. Evidence informs that expectant fathers prefer one-to-one support to communicate honestly and express their feelings. It has been reported that if fathers are undervalued and poorly supported, it may lead to high level of distress and poor parent and child mental health that can have negative parenting behavior and child outcomes.[6]

It is extremely important to develop multiple frameworks of family-oriented care to identify the presence of paternal depressive symptoms, which is positively correlated with poor maternal and child holistic outcome. Health-care providers need to acknowledge the linear relationships that exist in the psychosocial demands of men and women during pregnancy, support, and help them to feel more a part of and involved in the pregnancy process. Best practice guidelines should be developed to understand the first-time expectant fathers' crisis, the precipitating factors, their perception of the event, and their coping mechanisms to improve their psychological well-being. Research [1] documents that male partners are less likely to seek professional help for their psychological distress and, when they do, tend to present their mental health problems with less obvious symptoms and different languages. Interventions that increase paternal psychosocial support, positive triadic relationship, and timely information would be beneficial to ensure best outcomes for father, mother, and their family.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

 
  References Top

1.
Darwin Z, Galdas P, Hinchliff S, Littlewood E, McMillan D, McGowan L, et al. Fathers' views and experiences of their own mental health during pregnancy and the first postnatal year: A qualitative interview study of men participating in the UK born and bred in Yorkshire (BaBY) cohort. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth 2017;17:45.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
May C, Fletcher R. Preparing fathers for the transition to parenthood: Recommendations for the content of antenatal education. Midwifery 2013;29:474-8.  Back to cited text no. 2
[PUBMED]    
3.
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Antenatal and Postnatal Mental Health: Clinical Management and Service Guidance. London: National Institute for Health and Care Excellence; 2014.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Ganapathy T. Couvade syndrome among first time expectant fathers. Muller J Med Sci Res 2014;5:43-7. Available from: http://www.mjmsr.net/text.asp?2014/5/1/43/128944. [Last accessed on 2017 Nov 08].  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Al Furaikh SS, Thilagavathy G. Exploration of pregnancy blues among first time expectant fathers. Nurse Care Open Acces J 2017;2:1-7.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Paulson JF, Bazemore SD, Goodman JH, Leiferman JA. The course and interrelationship of maternal and paternal perinatal depression. Arch Womens Ment Health 2016;19:655-63.  Back to cited text no. 6
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