This article examines the extent and nature of father participation in a perinatal, community-based doula home-visiting intervention that served young, African American mothers from low-income backgrounds and their infants. Home-visitor service records were used to assess the quantity, setting, and content of father-attended visits. Correlates of fathers' participation and thematic insights from mothers' and home-visitors' perspectives on how fathers perceived and interacted with the home-visiting program were analyzed to further characterize the nature of father participation. Although the community-doula home-visiting model does not include special outreach to increase father participation, almost half of the mothers had a doula visit at which their baby's father was present, many of which took place in medical settings. Mothers and doulas reported that fathers were generally positive about the doula, but expressed that fathers viewed the doula as a substitute provider of support that fathers seemed reticent to provide themselves. These results suggest that community doulas who visit pre- and postpartum in multiple settings have unique opportunities to have contact with fathers that traditional home visitors or early childhood specialists may not have.
© 2014 Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health.