Objectives: To examine whether women whose partners are involved in their pregnancy are more likely to receive early prenatal care and reduce cigarette consumption over the course of the pregnancy. This study also examines sociodemographic predictors of father involvement during pregnancy.
Methods: Data on 5,404 women and their partners from the first wave of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort (ECLS-B) were used to examine the association between father involvement during pregnancy and maternal behaviors during pregnancy. Multivariate linear and logistic regression analyses were used and data were weighted to account for the complex survey design of the ECLS-B.
Results: Women whose partners were involved in their pregnancy were 1.5 times more likely to receive prenatal care in the first trimester and, among those who smoked at conception, to reduce their cigarette consumption 36% more than women whose partners were not involved in the pregnancy (p = .09). Fathers with less than a high school education were significantly less likely to be involved in their partner's pregnancy, while first-time fathers and fathers who reported wanting the pregnancy were significantly more likely to be involved.
Conclusions: The positive benefits of father involvement often reported in the literature on child health and development can be extended into the prenatal period. Father involvement is an important, but understudied, predictor of maternal behaviors during the prenatal period, and improving father involvement may have important consequences for the health of his partner, her pregnancy, and their child.