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Scand J Caring Sci. 2001;15(4):318-25.

The baby was the focus of attention - first-time parents' experiences of their intimate relationship.

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  • 1Master of Nursing, Post-Graduate Student at the Nordic School of Public Health (NHV), Göteborg, Sweden. tone.ahlborg@nhv


The baby was the focus of attention - first-time parents' experience of their intimate relationship. The purpose of this study was to describe the phenomenon of 'first-time parents' intimate relationship', to focus on their mental health, and the ability to support them professionally. Ten Swedish parents (five couples) were interviewed on two occasions, when the first baby was 6 and 18 months old, respectively. A descriptive phenomenological method was used. The findings show that the essence of the phenomenon is 'The baby was the focus of attention'. This had different meanings for the couples, putting them in two categories. For the first category, the essence was that the baby was the focus of mutual concern, which implied a fostered relationship. The strain of parenthood in this category was mild. In the second category, the baby was focused on at the expense of the father, who felt rejected emotionally. This impaired the relationship and parenthood involved a severe strain. The way the spouses communicated differed between the two categories. This study shows that mental health can be affected, especially among first-time fathers, and this could jeopardize the relationship and family health. An awareness of this fact is needed among the health professionals giving care to first-time parents.

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