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Fathers’ reactions over their partner's diagnosis of peripartum cardiomyopathy: A qualitative interview study

Journal article
Authors Harshida Patel
Cecily Begley
Åsa Premberg
Maria Schaufelberger
Published in Midwifery
Volume 71
Pages 42-48
ISSN 0266-6138
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Health and Care Sciences
Institute of Medicine, Department of Molecular and Clinical Medicine
Pages 42-48
Language en
Keywords Peripartum cardiomyopathy; father´s reactions; pregnancy; heart failure; qualitative research; care
Subject categories Nursing, Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine, Cardiac and Cardiovascular Systems


Background Fathers' experience of childbirth has been described as both distressing and wonderful, but little has been described in the literature about fathers´ reactions when their partners get life threatening diagnoses such as peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM) during the peripartum period. Aim To learn more about fathers' reactions over their partner's diagnosis of peripartum cardiomyopathy. Methods Fourteen fathers, whose partner was diagnosed with PPCM before or after giving birth, were interviewed. Data were analysed using inductive content analysis technique. Results The first reaction in fathers was shock when they heard their partner had PPCM, which was sudden, terrible and overwhelming news. Their reactions to trauma are described in the main category: The appalling diagnosis gave a new perspective on life with emotional sub-categories: overwhelmed by fear, distressing uncertainty in the situation and for the future, feeling helpless but have to be strong, disappointment and frustration, and relief and acceptance. Although terrified, fathers expressed gratitude towards health care professionals for the diagnosis that made it possible to initiate adequate treatment. Conclusion Exploring father's reactions will help peripartum and cardiology healthcare professionals to understand that emotional support for fathers is equally important as the support required for mothers during the peripartum period. Specifically they will help professionals to focus on future efforts in understanding and meeting the supportive care needs of fathers when their partner suffers from a life-threatening diagnosis like PPCM.

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