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Fathers’ experiences of care when their partners suffer from peripartum cardiomyopathy: a qualitative interview study

Journal article
Authors Harshida Patel
Marie Berg
Cecily Begley
Maria Schaufelberger
Published in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
Volume 18
Pages 330
ISSN 1471-2393
Publication year 2018
Published at University of Gothenburg Centre for person-centred care (GPCC)
Institute of Health and Care Sciences
Institute of Medicine, Department of Molecular and Clinical Medicine
Pages 330
Language en
Keywords Peripartum cardiomyopathy Fathers´ experiences Pregnancy Heart failure Qualitative study Information Care
Subject categories Cardiovascular medicine, Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine, Nursing


Background: Peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM), a potentially life-threatening condition in women, can have a profound impact on the family. Although structured support systems are developed, these systems tend to be based on the healthcare providers’ perceptions and focus mainly on mothers’ care. Fathers’ vital role in supporting their partners has been advocated in previous research. However, the impact of PPCM on the male partners of women is less understood. The aim of this study was to explore the experiences of healthcare in fathers whose partner was suffering from peripartum cardiomyopathy. Methods: The data from interviews with fourteen fathers were analysed using inductive content analysis. Results: An overarching category “The professionals could have made a difference” was identified from the data, characterised by the sub-categories: ‘To be informed/not informed,’ ‘To feel secure/insecure,’ ‘To feel visible/invisible’ and ‘Wish that it had been different’. Lack of timely information did not allow fathers to understand their partner´s distress, and plan for the future. The birth of the child was an exciting experience, but a feeling of helplessness was central, related to seeing their partner suffering. A desire for follow-up regarding the effect of PPCM on themselves was expressed. Conclusions: When men, as partners of women with PPCM, get adequate information of their partner´s condition, they gain a sense of security and control that gives them strength to handle their personal and emotional life-situation during the transition of becoming a father, along with taking care of an ill partner with PPCM. Hence, maternity professionals should also focus on fathers’ particular needs to help them fulfil their roles. Further research is urgently required in this area.

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