Fathers’ involvement in perinatal healthcare in Australia: experiences and reflections of Ethiopian-Australian men and women

Faye Forbes, Karen Wynter, Berihun M. Zeleke, Jane Fisher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Background: Family-centred maternity care models include the expectation that fathers prepare for and attend the birth. In Australia over 20% of the population is from a culturally and linguistically diverse background. Public policies espouse culturally competent healthcare. Little is known about the experiences of perinatal health care of men from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities living in high income countries. The aim was to understand the experiences, attitudes and beliefs about father’s inclusion in perinatal healthcare, from the growing, and recently settled community of Ethiopian families living in Australia. Methods: A qualitative study using semi-structured individual interviews with Ethiopian-Australian men and women who had experienced Australian maternity care and were sampled for diversity of time since migration, and parity. Interviews were in English, audio-recorded, transcribed and then analysed thematically. Results: Participants were seven women and six men all born in Ethiopia, including two couples. Key themes included: the loss of extended family through migration, new roles for both parents and the need to establish ‘family-like’ relationships with friendship groups in Australia. There was a willingness to involve male partners in the Ethiopian community in Australia, although it was recognised as a cultural change. Experiences of male partner involvement were mixed among healthcare types, with men attending Maternal and Child Health (MCH) appointments less frequently than antenatal (ANC) appointments. Conclusions: Results suggests men may be missing out on the education provided during antenatal appointments and may benefit from an alternative. There were not universally high levels of cultural competency among healthcare professionals, with further training still required. Commitment to paid employment remains a barrier to men’s involvement, suggesting that flexible working conditions and increased paternity leave would support their involvement. Alternatively services could utilise flexible delivery methods such as phone and zoom to include fathers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1029
Number of pages13
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Childbirth
  • Culturally and linguistically diverse
  • Father inclusive
  • Father involvement
  • Male partner involvement
  • Maternity care
  • Migrant
  • Perinatal healthcare
  • Pregnancy
  • Qualitative

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