Exploratory study of fathers providing Kangaroo Care in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Qiuxia Dong*, Mary Steen, Dianne Wepa, Amye Eden

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Aim and Objectives: To explore fathers' views and experiences of providing Kangaroo Care (KC) to their baby cared for in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). 

Background: Kangaroo Care has been known to improve the health outcome for preterm, low birth weight and medically vulnerable term infants and achieve the optimal perinatal health wellbeing for parents and infants. Historically, mothers are considered as the dominant KC providers, whereas fathers are spectators and have been overlooked. Little is known about the fathers' perspectives in providing KC in NICUs. 

Methods: Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 fathers who delivered KC to their baby when in the NICU. Data were analysed using Braun and Clarke's six-phase thematical framework. The Consolidated Criteria for Reporting Qualitative Research (COREQ) checklist was followed to report this qualitative study. Findings: Fathers in this study identified they were passing a silent language of love and connecting with their baby by the act of KC in a challenging environment. Three themes emerged: ‘Positive psychological connection’, ‘Embracing father-infant Kangaroo Care’ and ‘Challenges to father-infant Kangaroo Care’. 

Conclusion: The findings of this study show KC enhances the bonding and attachment between fathers and infants. The conceptualisation of the paternal role in caregiving to a newborn is evolving as a contemporary practice. Further research is warranted to confirm or refute the study findings. Policies and facilities should be modified to include father–infant KC within the fields of neonatal care. Relevance to Clinical Practice: It is important for nurses and other health professionals to support and enable fathers to give KC. Father–infant KC is recommended in neonatal care settings.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Early online date16 Jun 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Jun 2022

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