Fathers and Antenatal Education in Italy. a Challenge for Gender Equality.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 11:25
Location: Hörsaal 41 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Elisabetta RUSPINI, University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy
Lia LOMBARDI, University of Milan, Milan, Italy
Pregnancy is a significant event marking men’s and women’s life courses. The experience of pregnancy and childbirth is no less profound for the father that it is for the mother. However there has been little research investigating this aspect of men’s transition to fatherhood. There is a need for research investigating the role of fathers during pregnancy and childbirth and men’s participation in antenatal education. This in order to understand if and how a careful involvement of fathers during pregnancy may positively impact on mothers’ health, children’s well-being, a better fathers’ involvement in children’s education, and gender equality.

Aim of this paper is to explore this aspect of men’s transitions to fatherhood in Italy: if and how expectant fathers are involved in antenatal education. The data were collected in Milan through two data collection means: 6 qualitative interviews to key informants (obstetricians and birth-class instructors) conducted in February 2015; around 100 structured interviews to expectant fathers conducted in the period 2007-2013. The data clearly highlight the importance of antenatal education for expectant fathers; they also underline the need to introduce significant changes to better meet the needs of both mothers and fathers.

Our paper draws upon the results of a study (study team composed of: Alessandra Andrisani; Roberto Fumagalli; Marco Inghilleri; Lia Lombardi; Maria Cristina Ortu; Valeria Pecorelli; Elisabetta Ruspini - University of Milan and Padova) that tried to answer the following questions: How do expectant fathers respond to pregnancy? How do men feel about the physical and behavioral changes in their partner? How are birth classes organized? What kind of information are offered? Is there a positive interaction between fathers’ attendance at antenatal classes, their involvement in childcare and their attitude toward gender equality in childcare? How do fathers feel after childbirth?