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Being there: a qualitative interview study with fathers present during the resuscitation of their baby at delivery
  1. Merryl E Harvey1,
  2. Helen M Pattison2
  1. 1Faculty of Health, Birmingham City University, Birmingham, UK
  2. 2School of Life Health Sciences, Aston University, Birmingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Merryl E Harvey, Department of Health, Birmingham City University, City Campus South, Westbourne Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 3TN, UK; merryl.harvey{at}


Objective To explore fathers' experiences of the resuscitation of their baby at delivery.

Design A descriptive, retrospective design using tape-recorded semistructured interviews with fathers present during the resuscitation of their baby at delivery. Fathers described what happened, their interactions with healthcare professionals, their feelings at the time and afterwards.

Setting Participants were recruited from a large teaching hospital in the UK.

Participants A purposive sample of 20 fathers whose baby required resuscitation at delivery.

Results Participant responses were analysed using thematic analysis. Four broad themes were identified: ‘preparation’, ‘knowing what happened’, ‘his response’ and ‘impact on him’. Fathers had no difficulty recalling their emotions during the resuscitation. These feelings remained vivid and were mostly negative. Most fathers wanted to go to their baby during the resuscitation but did not do so. They felt they should stay with their partner, did not want to impede the resuscitation or felt they were not ‘allowed’ to go to their baby. The fathers' position in the room and the extent to which they were focusing on their partner had an impact on their recollection of what happened. Fathers had no opportunity to discuss the resuscitation with healthcare professionals afterwards. Several fathers felt they had not yet recovered from the experience and a few had symptoms synonymous with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Conclusion This is the first study to specifically explore fathers' experiences of newborn resuscitation. The findings should inform healthcare education, policy development and the provision of support to fathers.

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  • Collaborator Helen Pattison.

  • Funding Development and approval of the study, participant recruitment, data collection and initial data analysis were undertaken when the first author held the Bliss Neonatal Nurse Research Fellow post at the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit, University of Oxford. The first author's PhD fees were met by Birmingham City University and the first author. All other expenses were met by the first author. Aston University was the sponsor; this included the provision of university approval for the study. All aspects of the study were supervised by the second author.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval Solihull Local Research Ethics Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.