Missed opportunities for prenatal family-centered care during the COVID-19 pandemic: a qualitative study.

Publication date: Feb 06, 2024

The purpose of this study was to describe the impact of COVID-19 on fatherhood experiences during pregnancy. A semi-structured interview guide was developed to collect qualitative data from fathers about their experiences in pregnancy and prenatal care, how they communicated with providers, strategies for information seeking, and social support they received during the pregnancy. One-time, virtual interviews were conducted via Zoom with fathers that were either expecting a baby or fathers who had a baby after March 2020 and were 18 years or older. Thematic analysis was used to identify themes that highlighted the fatherhood experience. In total, 34 interviews with new or expectant fathers were completed. Two central themes that highlight the experiences of fathers: missed opportunities to shift toward family-centered care and inequity in the parent dyad during pregnancy. Additional supporting themes included: limited patient-provider relationship, lack of telemedicine use, inadequate uncertainty management for parents, unidirectional information sharing between parents, and limited opportunities for achieving role attainment during pregnancy. The COVID-19 pandemic created a decision point for prenatal care. Instead of focusing on family-centered practices, prenatal care exclusively centered on the mother and fetus, resulting in problematic experiences for fathers including limited access to information about the pregnancy and health of the mother and fetus, heightened stress related to COVID-19 safety requirements, and few opportunities to attain their role as a father. Prenatal care should actively seek robust strategies to improve family-centered care practices that will withstand the next public health emergency.

Concepts Keywords
Fatherhood family-centered care
Interviews Father
March pregnancy
Pandemic prenatal care


Type Source Name
disease MESH COVID-19 pandemic
disease VO time
disease VO LACK
disease MESH uncertainty
disease MESH emergency

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