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Scand J Caring Sci. 2008 Mar;22(1):56-63. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-6712.2007.00584.x.

Experiences of the first year as father.

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Institute of Health and Care Sciences, Sahlgrenska Academy, Göteborg University, Göteborg, Sweden.



The importance of fathers' participation for development of the child and the well-being of the family is recognized from earlier research. In Sweden, legislation allows fathers to share the parental leave equally with the mother even so fathers only use a small of their paid leave. The aim of the study was to explore experiences of the first year as a father.


A phenomenological life world approach was used. Ethical approval was obtained. Ten men, recruited by a purposive sample, were interviewed 12-14 months after the delivery of their first child. The data collection was performed during June and August 2004 in the south-west area of Sweden.


The essence of the experiences of the first year as father was to place the baby in the centre without giving up one's own person. The child provided warmth and happiness in the family and men experienced a deeper relationship to their partner. The contact between father and child was facilitated by engagement and time spent alone with the child. The major constituents identified from the findings were 'To be overwhelmed', 'To master the new situation' and 'To get a new completeness in life'.


To master fatherhood maintenance of integrity and possibility to develop an independent relationship with the child is important. Fathers are invited to participate in postnatal childbirth education but the activities address women's needs and it is doubtful if the fathers benefit from participation. Though fathers entered the delivery room some decades ago, as a support to the woman, health personnel of today must be aware of fathers' own needs and the impact gender aspects have on their professional support.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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