First-time fathers' postnatal experiences and support needs: A descriptive qualitative study

Document Type



School of Nursing and Midwifery, East Africa


Aim: To explore first-time fathers' postnatal experiences and support needs in the early postpartum period.

Background: The postnatal period is a stressful transition period for new fathers. It is imperative to understand their needs and experiences to provide appropriate support for them. The majority of previous studies were based in Western countries and explored fathers' needs during pregnancy and childbirth, with few studies conducted in the postnatal period. In Singapore, a multiracial society with differing paternal cultural values from its Western counterparts, there is considerable need to examine the experiences and needs of first-time fathers.

Design: A descriptive qualitative design was used.

Methods: Data were collected from November 2015-January 2016. Fifteen first-time fathers were recruited from two postnatal wards of a public hospital, using a purposive sampling method. A semi-structured interview guide was used to conduct face-to-face interviews. A thematic analysis was conducted and ethics approval was sought for this study.

Results: Four overarching themes and seventeen subthemes were generated. The four overarching themes were: (1) No sense of reality to sense of responsibility; (2) Unprepared and challenged; (3) Support: needs, sources, experience and attitude; and (4) Future help for fathers.

Conclusion: Fathers undergo a transition phase where they have unmet support needs during the early postnatal period. Understanding and addressing these needs may facilitate smooth transition to fatherhood. This study's findings can be used to involve fathers and design future supportive educational programs to promote positive parenting experiences and family dynamics.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Journal of Advanced Nursing