This presentation explores the evidence from a meta synthesis undertaken as part of a programme of work entitled, Engaging Fathers in Childbirth (EPIC). There is growing evidence that active involvement of fathers in maternity care is associated with many health and social benefits for the mother and baby. However, maternity care expectations and experiences of expectant and new fathers have received little attention from policy makers and maternity service providers. Twenty three papers were included in the meta-synthesis and studies where undertaken in 9 countries (7 UK, 5 Australia, 4 Sweden, 2 USA, 1 Japan, 1 Taiwan, 1 South Africa, 1 Finland, 1 New Zealand). Ten of these focused on the prenatal period (prenatal diagnosis, A/N education & care), 5 focused on the intrapartum period (place of birth, premature birth & experiences),8 focussed on the postnatal period (transition to fatherhood & post-traumatic stress disorder). Six themes emerged from the included studies: risk and uncertainty,exclusion, fear and frustration, the ideal and the reality, issues of support, experiencing transition. 'As Partner and Parent’ fathers experience as not-patient and not-visitor situates them in an interstitial and undefined space with the consequence that many feel excluded and fearful. They cannot support their partner effectively unless they are themselves supported, included, and prepared for the reality of risk and uncertainty in pregnancy, labour and parenthood and for their role in this context.
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