to identify and critically review the research literature that has examined fathers׳ involvement during labour and birth and their influence on decision making.
the review follows the approach of a narrative review. Systematic searches of electronic databases Social Services Abstract, Sociological Abstracts, ASSIA, CINAHL Medline, Cochrane library, AMED, BNI, PsycINFO, Embase, Maternity and Infant care, DH-Data and the Kings Fund Database were combined with manual searches of key journals and reference lists. Studies published between 1992 and 2013 examining fathers׳ involvement during intrapartum care were included in the review.
the findings of this review suggest that fathers׳ level of involvement during labour ranges from being a witness or passive observer of labour and birth to having an active supporting and coaching role. The findings also suggest that there are a number of facilitators and barriers to fathers׳ involvement during labour and birth. There are a limited number of studies that have examined fathers׳ involvement in decision making and specifically how fathers׳ influence decision making during labour and birth.
future research needs to address the gap in the literature regarding fathers׳ involvement and influence on decision making to help midwives and obstetricians understand the process in order enhance the transition to parenthood for women and men.