Almost 20pc of fathers-to-be 'frightened' at birth of child
NERVOUS fathers-to-be who attend their baby's hospital birth want doctors to talk to them more during what can be an "exciting" but "frightening" process.
The insider views of expectant fathers have emerged in the first study of its kind by a group of doctors in the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street, including master Dr Rhona Mahony.
Questionnaires were given to men to evaluate fathers' experiences of pregnancy, labour and delivery.
They found that at every stage, from antenatal to postnatal, fathers thought midwifery staff communicated better than medical staff.
Almost all fathers were present at the delivery (97.2pc) and the most common method of birth was natural delivery (61.4pc).
The survey found that "in general, fathers involvement with the pregnancy process and their attendance at the birth was a positive experience".
However, it added that : "communication processes can be improved to better support the father in his role during this time".
A spokeswoman for the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists told the Irish Independent that" involvement of fathers is encouraged and is increasing in the maternity services".
She added: "While this result is very positive, we continue to encourage our members to communicate to the mother and her family during pregnancy and childbirth."
However, the "welfare of mother and baby is paramount".
The majority of men felt comfortable on the delivery ward (87.8pc) and were "delighted" to witness the birth (79.9pc).
But as many as 17.7pc said they were frightened by the delivery, while 62pc described it as a "great experience".
The survey found that the average age of the fathers was 33.8 years.
Seven in 10 were married and more than one-quarter were in long-term relationships.
The majority were Irish but nearly one-third came from from eastern Europe, and a minority from Africa, Asia and India.
A significant percentage of the fathers were employed in paid work, 51.9pc of whom were entitled to paternity leave.
More than half were first- time fathers, with the remainder having between one and seven children already.
As many as 77.9pc had planned the pregnancy, 2.5pc as a result of fertility treatment. But nearly one in five pregnancies were unplanned.
Seven in 10 of the new dads said they were "overjoyed"; 18.4pc "pleased"; and 11.3pc "responded either neutrally or negatively to the news of the pregnancy".
"Fathers were found to be likely to be present at antenatal visits (80pc) and ultrasound scans (89.1pc) but less likely to be involved in antenatal education classes (48pc)," said the survey.
Nearly half of the fathers (49.6pc) planned to attend the delivery because they really wanted to witness the birth while 43pc attended to support their partner.