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ABSTRACT

Twenty first-time fathers who had attended prenatal classes were interviewed before and after attending their wives' childbirth to determine the father's special needs at this time. The same fifty-item questionnaire was utilized in both the predelivery and the postdelivery interviews. Motivation for involvement in childbirth was explored in the predelivery interview. The most frequent motivations for involvement in childbirth were “to share the birth,” and “to enhance the couple relationship.” The responses differed little in the pre- and postdelivery interviews. In the postdelivery interview, more fathers wanted to know the baby's condition as soon as possible after birth and wanted to have the nurse at their wives' bedside as much as possible during labor. Most of the fathers had high needs for understanding, nurturance, and deference during labor. Most fathers wanted the nurses to take care of their emotional needs rather than their physical needs (hunger and rest). Assisting their wives in labor was considered to be a great achievement by the fathers. Few fathers felt overpowered or anxious about the environment of the labor suite or the birth itself. This study concluded that further research with fathers who do not attend prenatal classes was needed.