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J Affect Disord. 2017 Mar 1;210:115-121. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2016.12.025. Epub 2016 Dec 20.

Effects of prenatal childbirth education for partners of pregnant women on paternal postnatal mental health and couple relationship: A systematic review.

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Graduate School of International and Cultural Studies, Tsuda College, Tokyo, Japan.
National Center for Child Health and Development, Tokyo, Japan.
College, National Rehabilitation Center for Persons with Disabilities, Saitama, Japan.
Graduate School of Nursing Science, St.Luke's International University, Tokyo, Japan. Electronic address:



Partner education during pregnancy may be able to prevent postnatal mental health problems, and support expectant fathers in their transition to parenthood. The aim of this systematic review is to investigate the effects of prenatal childbirth education among partners of pregnant women, particularly regarding paternal postnatal mental health and couple relationship.


We searched Medline, CINAHL, EMBASE, PsycINFO, ERIC, and CENTRAL using terms such as "partners of pregnant women," "education," and "prenatal support." Searches were limited to randomized trials.


We included 11 trials out of 13 reports that addressed the following topics: childbirth preparation, couple relationship, infants and parenting, postpartum psychosocial issues, and housework sharing. Overall risk of bias was low or unclear. Study outcomes, including parents' mental health (e.g., anxiety, depression, distress), couple relationship, parents' transition adjustment and parenting stress, and parents' satisfaction with their experience of childbirth and prenatal childbirth education programs were reported.


The studies included in this review were very diverse regarding intervention intensity and content, outcome types, measurement tools, and outcome timing. This impeded evaluation of the interventions' effectiveness.


No sufficient evidence was identified that prenatal childbirth education for partners of pregnant women protects against paternal postnatal depression and couple relationship; however, paternal postnatal mental health is important to maternal and perinatal healthcare. The results of this review suggest that further research and intervention are required to provide partners of pregnant women with evidence-based information and support whole families during the perinatal period.


Antenatal education; Childbirth education; Fathers; Partners of pregnant women; Postnatal depression

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