Study shows tough times for some new dads 


Research by a Charles Darwin University academic is shedding light on first-time fathers’ sometimes difficult transition to fatherhood.

Nursing lecturer at CDU’s School of Health Sciences, Catherine Wilkin recently presented a paper at the inaugural Nursing Research Symposium, which shows that men whose partners have an “at risk” pregnancy have a different transitional path compared with other men.

Ms Wilkin said that while there was a developing body of literature related to the transition to fatherhood during and following a “normal” first pregnancy, less focus has been given to the transition to first-time fatherhood where there is an “other-than-normal” pregnancy.

“Men identify complex feelings related to becoming a new father, predominantly confusion related to anxiety, a need to know what is happening, and feelings of powerlessness and ambivalence,” she said.

Ms Wilkin said it was reasonable to expect that these feelings may be exacerbated by the worry of a partner experiencing an “other-than-normal” delivery.

“While the bulk of attention during this period is on the mother-infant dyad, the pregnant woman’s primary source of support is commonly her partner,” she said.

“If he is having difficulty in making the transition to fatherhood because of raised negative emotional levels, this will impact on the woman because of impaired information transmission, lowered or altered emotional support and resentment from the father.”

Ms Wilkin said it was essential that pregnant women as well as midwives knew how these fathers felt at a difficult time.

“This ensures that support and encouragement is fostered for the newly developing family, and also ensures that family dynamics and subsequent pregnancies are not negatively affected.”