Aims and objectives: To identify and describe the process of fatherhood during the partner's pregnancy among expectant, first-time fathers.
Background: Pregnancy seems to be a demanding period for expectant fathers, and this period is a part of their transition to fatherhood. Blogs can be seen as personal diaries and offer an alternative method of collecting data as they are an arena for sharing experiences and narratives.
Design: An explorative qualitative design.
Methods: Blogs from the Internet by eleven first-time fathers living in Sweden were included in the study. Qualitative content analysis was used for the analysis of the blogs.
Results: A theme emerged expressing the latent content of the text: 'Becoming a father for the first time is an emotional roller coaster where the role of the expectant father is not obvious' and five different categories describing the manifest content: the pregnancy, a new life, to make the child real, preparations for the delivery and the arrival of the child, and a new role in life.
Conclusions: The metaphor 'roller coaster' indicates the tension between different feelings about the men's future as fathers. They are searching for answers on how to be a good father. They feel excluded when they visit antenatal care centres and have difficulties finding out how to support their partner. This is an existential period when they understand themselves as adults and also miss relatives who have died. During pregnancy, the men start to communicate with their child, and this interaction gives a sense of reality and creates hope and joy about being a father.
Relevance to clinical practice: Staff involved in antenatal care can use the knowledge from this study when meeting with expectant fathers. Perspectives expressed in blogs may enhance the professionals' understanding that the transition process of fatherhood is complex.
Keywords: blogs; first-time fathers; pregnancy; qualitative content analysis; qualitative study; reproductive health; sexuality; transition.
© 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.