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Keywords:

  • preterm born;
  • premature;
  • infant;
  • fathers’ experiences;
  • fatherhood;
  • parenthood;
  • neonatal nursing;
  • thematic content analysis

The aim of this study was to describe the experiences of being a father to a prematurely born infant. Eight fathers of prematurely born children were interviewed using a narrative approach, and a thematic content analysis was used to analyse the interviews. The fathers described that the preterm birth gave them the chance to get to know their infant as they had to spend time at the intensive care unit. They also felt better educated by professionals who helped them take care of their infant. Their feelings and attachment for their infant increased over time and the fathers felt that they had a stronger bond with their child compared with friends who had babies born at term. As time passed, they became more confident as a father. In spite of the strain, the experience made them change as a person and they expressed having different values. The relationship with their partner was strengthened as they handled this situation together as a couple. However, the fathers felt fortunate despite everything and described having managed a prematurely born infant rather well. Although there are similarities between being a father to a child born at term and to one born preterm, it is significant to gain further knowledge about the specific experiences of fathers of prematurely born infants. The results of this study have implications for nurses working with families who have children born prematurely.