Fathers’ Needs and Masculinity Dilemmas in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Denmark

Most healthcare professionals in neonatal intensive care units typically focus on the infants and mothers; fathers often feel powerless and find it difficult to establish a father-child relationship. In family-centered healthcare settings, exploring fathers’ experiences and needs is important because men’s roles in society, especially as fathers, are changing.

The purpose of this study was to describe fathers’ needs when their infants are admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit and to discuss these needs within a theoretical framework of masculinity to advance understanding and generate meaningful knowledge for clinical practices.

Health professionals in neonatal intensive care units must be aware of fathers’ need and desire to be equal coparents. Nurses should play a key role by, for example, showing that fathers are as important to their infants as are the mothers, helping them become involved in childcare, and ensuring that they are directly informed about their children’s progress.

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