Male partners’ experiences of early pregnancy ultrasound scans in Soweto, South Africa: The Healthy Pregnancy, Healthy Baby randomised trial
Background. Despite international evidence highlighting the benefits of male partners attending antenatal visits, including pregnancy ultrasound scans, it is unusual for South African (SA) men to attend such visits, and little is known about their experiences if they do.
Objectives. To explore the experiences and antenatal attachment among male partners who attend early pregnancy ultrasound examinations in Soweto, SA.
Methods. Pregnant women attending ultrasound examinations were invited to bring their partners with them. Both completed individual questionnaires, including the antenatal attachment scale. The results are based on a descriptive analysis of 102 mother-partner pairs.
Results. The mean age of partners was 35 years. Only 32% of men were living with their pregnant partner. Before the ultrasound scan, 64% of men reported feeling very anxious, while 54% also felt anxious after the procedure. The ultrasound examination had a positive effect on men and their thoughts regarding their developing baby, with 30% stating that they were ready or excited to be a father. Twenty-eight percent believed their relationship with the mother was stronger as a result of participating in antenatal care.
Conclusions. We found that prenatal ultrasound scans had a positive effect on male partners and their thoughts about the pregnancy, their forthcoming child and their relationship with and support for their partner. Health services in SA should accommodate partners/ fathers and encourage them to attend antenatal care, including pregnancy ultrasound scans. Interventions are needed to encourage more men to be involved – from conception – potentially addressing individual, familial, societal and structural barriers to involvement of the father in long-term maternal and child care.
R E Drysdale, DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence in Human Development, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
W Slemming, Division of Community Paediatrics, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
T Makusha, DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence in Human Development, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa; Human Sciences Research Council, Pretoria, South Africa; MRC/Wits Developmental Pathways for Health Research Unit (DPHRU), Johannesburg, South Africa
L M Richter, DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence in Human Development, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
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Date published: 2022-07-22
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