The active engagement of fathers in maternity care is associated with long-term health and social benefits for the mother, baby and family. This study's aim was to identify and synthesise good quality qualitative research that explores the views and experiences of fathers who have encountered maternity care in high resource settings. A pre-determined search strategy identified 23 papers published between January 1999 and January 2010. Analysis was based on the metaethnographic techniques of Noblit and hare (1988) as amended by Downe et al, (2007). The emerging themes were: risk and uncertainty, exclusion, fear and frustation, the ideal and the reality, issues of support and experiencing transition.The following synthesis was generated from these themes:Most fathers in the included studies saw themselves as partner and parent, with a strong desire to support their partners and to be fully engaged with the process of becoming a father. However, the experience of maternity care was often as not-patient and not visitor. This situated them in an interstitial and undefined space (both emotionally and physically) with the consequence that many felt uncertain, excluded and fearful.
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