Health Care Support Needs of 1st Time Fathers

Background Postnatal period is a stressful transition period for new parents especially for fathers. In order to prepare fathers for the smooth transition to parenthood it is imperative to understand their needs and experiences to provide them support accordingly. Most of the previous studies based in Western countries have focused on exploring fathers needs during pregnancy and childbirth yet very few have been conducted in the postpartum period. In Singapore, a multi-racial society with differing paternal cultural values from its western counterparts, there is considerable need to examine the postnatal experiences and perceived health care support needs of first-time fathers. Objective The objective of this study was to explore first-time fathers’ postnatal experiences and perceived support needs in the early postpartum period post hospital discharge in Singapore. Methodology and Findings A descriptive qualitative approach was adopted. A semi-structured interview guide was developed after piloting to conduct face-to-face in-depth interviews with 15 first-time fathers within two weeks after their partner’s hospital discharge in the early postpartum period. The participants were purposively recruited from a maternity unit of a Singaporean public hospital. Thematic analysis was conducted with the interviews revealing four overarching themes and seventeen sub-themes. The four overarching themes were: 1) No sense of reality to sense of responsibility; 2) Unaware, sleep deprived, confused and lacking confidence; 3) Support: sources, needs, experience and attitudes and 4) Future help. Significance of the Study These results contribute to the body of knowledge on first-time fathers’ experiences and perceived support needs in the early postpartum period in the unique multi-racial context of Singapore. The findings can be used as a baseline to design future supportive educational programs to promote positive parenting experiences and smooth transition to fatherhood.