Objective: To explore how men experience becoming a father for the first time and how they perceive their role during their partner’s pregnancy, childbirth and the early period with a newborn child. Methods: The study had a qualitative design. Nine individual interviews were conducted with first-time fathers. Qualitative content analysis was used to interpret the data material. Results: The men’s ages were from 25 to 45 years. They were all Norwegian, seven were cohabitants, and two were married. Four categories describing fathers’ experience of the transition to their role as fathers were identified: Expectations of fatherhood, delivery, barriers to the father’s role, and facilitators of the father’s role. Conclusion: Development of the fatherhood role is a process in which the man transitions from relating to the abstractness of pregnancy via concretization through birth to the realization phase after birth. Growth in the father’s positive engagement depends on a sense of mastery, meaningfulness, control and manageability in relation to his child, his partner and his new everyday life. Identified factors facilitate or inhibit the development of a positive fatherhood role. The sum of the factors determines how this role is experienced. Insight into the fatherhood role is important to enable health professionals to provide personalized follow-up of high quality in the health services. Better follow-up will enable public health nurses and midwives to strengthen the role of both the individual father and the family as a whole. This will in turn contribute to better health and development for the child.
Beate Solberg and Kari Glavin