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black man hugging a black woman's pregnant belly

The purpose of this study is to evaluate an adapted fatherhood program to enhance paternal involvement during pregnancy in Fresno, CA. Fresno County has some of the largest racial/ethnic disparities in preterm birth, particularly in the Black community. Exposure to stress has emerged as one modifiable risk factor for preterm birth, and some research indicates that social support, specifically from a partner, can protect from the deleterious effects of stress by providing additional coping strategies that buffer against the experience of stressful life events. While recommendations for paternal involvement resources exist, to our knowledge, few have been implemented and tested among Black men in Fresno.

black father holding his son

From our 2019 needs assessments with 15 Black/AA fathers from Fresno about their role during pregnancy and receptivity to support programs to build capacity to engage in the pregnancy process, we learned that:

  • Before training men about being supportive during pregnancy, men need to understand better the power of a father's involvement in their children's lives from conception. 11

  • Many fathers do not have the skill sets to be effective fathers because of their own experiences.

  • Aspects of doula training may be helpful for men to gain knowledge of the pregnancy process and support their partners during pregnancy.

  • Some struggled to see the relevance of increased knowledge of the birthing process to fatherhood.

  • Some reflected on poor experiences with birthing classes and stressed the importance of structural factors (lack of father-figures).

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