Objectives: A programme of research was undertaken to explore which factors contributed to decisions regarding birth place. As part of this programme, the views of male partners of pregnant women were examined to gain understanding of their contribution to the decision making process, with regard to different birth settings.
Study design: A qualitative interpretive approach was utilised to explore, in-depth, the views of 19 expectant fathers, in the North West of England. Semi-structured interviews were conducted, audio recorded and transcribed, following consent. Data were analysed using a thematic approach.
Findings: Four main themes were identified; Silent decisions, Powers of persuasion, Trust in a medical environment and Personal vulnerability.
Conclusions: Choice regarding place of birth is multi-dimensional. Expectant fathers are likely to contribute to their partner's decision making; their motivation can relate to their own beliefs and personal vulnerability as well the need to protect the women. The overwhelming trust in the medical environment dominates partner's views regarding birth place. The lack of discussion regarding birth place, between partners and with health professionals, reinforces the notion that hospital birth is safest, thus strengthening the normalization of birth in this environment. Midwives need to engage with expectant fathers to ensure that their contributions to decisions around birth place are fully informed.
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