Background: Fathers often want to be involved in labour and birth.
Aim: To investigate how maternal birth position during second stage of labour may influence fathers' experience of childbirth.
Methods: Mixed method study with 221 Swedish fathers completing an on-line questionnaire. Descriptive statistics and qualitative content analysis were used.
Results: In total 174 (78.7%) had a positive overall birth experience. The theme An emotional life-changing event influenced by the birth process and the structure of obstetrical care was revealed and included the categories; Midwives ability to be professional, The birth process' impact, and Being prepared to participate. The most frequently utilised birth position during a spontaneous vaginal birth was birth seat (n=83; 45.1%), and the fathers in this group were more likely to assess the birth position as very positive (n=40; 54.8%) compared to other upright and horizontal birth positions. Fathers with a partner having an upright birth position were more likely to have had a positive birth experience (p=0.048), to have felt comfortable (p=0.003) and powerful (p=0.019) compared to women adopting a horizontal birth position during a spontaneous vaginal birth. When the women had an upright birth position the fathers deemed the second stage of labour to have been more rapid (mean VAS 7.01 vs. 4.53) compared to women in a horizontal birth position.
Conclusion: An upright birth position enhances fathers' experience of having been positively and actively engaged in the birth process. Midwives can enhance fathers' feelings of involvement and participation by attentiveness through interaction and communicating skills.
Keywords: Birth experience; Birth position; Fathers; Mixed method; Participation.
Copyright © 2015 Australian College of Midwives. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.