During data analysis a total of four main themes were identified relating to the experiences and perceptions of husbands who support their partners during pregnancy, labour and delivery. The identified themes were; Demonstrating love and affection, Men’s adoption with modern life style, Observing women’s right and meeting socioeconomic difficulties during support. These themes together with corresponding categories are presented in Table 1 below.
Table 1; Themes and corresponding categories describing men’s experiences, perceptions and challenges of partner support during pregnancy labor and delivery
Partner’s expectations of support
Demonstrating love and affection
Men’s responsibilities in support and care during pregnancy labour and delivery.
Men’s preparations before delivery
Men’s adoption with modern life style
Community’s perspective on men’s support.
Men’s expectations over support provided to partners.
Observing women’s right
Financial instabilities during the process of care provided by men.
Constraints with transport for reaching the health care centers.
Health care setting and the attitude of health care providers.
Meeting social economic difficulties
Demonstrating love and affection
Participants interviewed in this study had different views about support they provide to their partners/wives during pregnancy, labor and delivery. They reported that support they provided to their partners was geared at ensuring the physical wellbeing of both mother and the coming baby.
“…It is in terms of services like to make sure she (the wife) gets proper diet during the daytime and during the night. All what I am doing is for the mother and for the coming baby…” (PT. No 2)
Other participants shared that the support provided to their wives was seen as the way to appeal to what the couple sworn at the day of marriage. It is a commitment which the two agreed as they married each other.
“…it has relation with the marital oath, though as you swear during marriage you swear to be with the wife for problems and happiness because those were our agreements. So it is also because it was in our agreement that I have to be here to give her support…”(PT. No.5)
Some participants thought that the support provided based on their religious beliefs of which they have to obey in their denominations; and others thought of the relationship they are having with their partners to be the main reason to provide support; or because he is the one responsible for the pregnancy, hence he has to take care, thus being the meaning of support. This was stated as follows:
“…… I see myself as the one who was involved to make her in this condition and if she succeeds it will be fruits to me, that am why I see it is important that we are together….” (PT. No 4)
Participants’ also reported that they provided support to their partners because it was women’s human rights to be supported and cared. This concept of support further generated an interesting and stimulating status for women. Among men participated in this study, when asked whether what they are doing is all about women’s rights, the majority responded in the positive perspective, one insisted that it is more than women’s right it is rather human right. The following quote narrate what was obtained from one of the participants:
“…To my understanding I believe I have right to do so (to support my wife), it is all about women’s and her right as I don’t feel peace when I leave her alone. Because she knows there is somebody behind her and as I understand (we are one thing…”) (PT. No 5)
Men’s adoption of the modern lifestyle
Support provided by men was perceived by some participants as a way of conforming to a new life style where it is not uncommon for a man to support their wives when they are pregnant or during delivery. However; some participants reported that for a long time men have been providing support to their partners, though not as it is now where provision of support to their partners make them to be seen as modern men or men who are moving with current era. This was also stated to have improved with the current increase of educations among men compared to old times. As quoted from one of the informants;
“…this was practiced though partially from the past, but because of development with education, people have identified the benefits of providing support to partners compared to previously where education was still low to the majority of men….”(PT. No 3)
Others had different views and argued that supporting partners during pregnancy labor and delivery is not a matter of new fashion but obligation as directed by religious teachings and that according to the biblical writings men cannot escape these responsibilities. The following was quoted from one of the informants;
“….No! It is not a fashion, to me I think it is normal, because even the writings in the word of God have insisted this, thus when you are two you need to assist each other as it is written in the Bible,…it is not good to leave your wife with problems without assisting…” (PT. No 9)
Despite taking the role of a man or husbands in the family, the results revealed that there are specific responsibilities that need to be carried by men in providing support to their partners/ wives when pregnant at home, and during delivery. This is the time when the usual duties of the partner as the wife at home are taken by men as husbands. Informants reported to practice what they were taught during antenatal care visits and therefore their involvement in support were not confined to reproductive health rather it was beyond home activities as quoted hereunder from two of the informants of this study;
“….I just accompanied when I had time in some of the days, to find food and helping in home activities so that she is kept free, to make the unborn healthy. I took all the responsibilities of washing, fetching water cleaning and mopping….” (PT. No 8)
It was noted that some men were so keen to follow instructions given during antenatal visits especially on the issues to birth preparedness and that they were responsible for preparing all necessary requirements as needed, in response to the concept of individual birth preparedness, which is advocated during the routine clinic teaching. According to informants under this study, they were implementing what they gained from the sessions attended during the antenatal visits which they managed to attend. Hereunder is what was quoted;
“…I remember in the last visit we were told to be prepared for delivery, to have a safe place for delivery that she must have enough clothes, basin to go with; about children at home I was not told, just used experience. Her young sister has remained back at home to look after the young children. About money according to the jobs we are doing I just prepared with a little money for basic needs …” (PT. No 6)
Observing women’s right
Responses indicated that men commonly reported to feel their involvement in favor of their partner’s rights. These are the men’s concern and attentiveness over women’s rights, they are being supported by the community; and also are men’s expectations of their partners.
Providing support to partners during pregnancy and during laboring process is perceived by the community as a normal event and also as something that needs to be promoted among many other men. It was also established that other men are ready to assist in taking the woman to the hospital even when the owner of the wife is not around. The following was quoted from two informants during the interview.
“….they usually say that this man loves his wife, if men could be like this man, our marriages could be in good condition….” (PT. No 3)
“…..I think they see it normal, because as I moved I informed like five people about what I was going to do, of whom nobody was wondering to what I was doing, they just take it as a normal event….”( PT. No 4)
In the other perspective, other men in the community still believe differently; not all are in the same belief of providing support to their partners during pregnancy, labour and delivery. Some do not support while others are still undefined.s stated by one o the participants;
“I see this as a normal event, it is not easy to know how others are thinking, there are others who are happy with what I am doing and others are wondering at me” (PT. No 7)
“……Every person has his own perspective; others may ignore or may see as a normal issue according to his own culture……” (PT. No 8)
It came out from the participants that all the efforts men put on the support they provide to their partners has aim to gain profit. This is either in the perspective of increasing number of children as making worth of, or believing that after recovering, the partner will produce more for the family. Others went further to say that their support prevents the partners from getting psychological problems and predicting the good health status of the unborn baby. This is according to what was quoted from some participants as follows;
“……but the most important thing is; caring makes the woman to have no depression, because if you are not close to her she may have depression, and then you will ask why me, sometimes she may be bothered (kachukia) being filled up with a certain poison, and this may affect the unborn baby. So it is all about making the future of the baby who will be born. It will make you feel happy with the newborn after delivery and not blaming on some behaviors which will be shown by the baby while growing…..” (PT. No 8)
Meeting social economic difficulties
Despite the efforts demonstrated by men when accounted for support provided to their partners, some barriers have been hindering their full participation in (providing support) including; financial instabilities during the process of care provided by men, challenge with transport for reaching the health care centers, health care settings and the attitude of health care providers.
As individuals with different sources of income, participants under this study reported to have constrained by financial consequences. This happened either because of having low income depending on a kind of job done, or time spent in the caring of the partner affected the daily flow in their businesses. Others are depended upon by the whole family at home including the partner who has no job. This was mentioned to be their foremost constraint especially to those introduced as wage earners (kibarua) and the entrepreneurs (wajasiliamali) i.e. all whose income is of middle and low scale. These informants also had a concern with time spent during ANC services in conjunction with being at the hospital during delivery process. In this they were thinking of how to compensate in days which has been spent either at the clinic or at the hospital during delivery process, this is according to how the following participants were quoted;
" …… I usually have many activities, those days which I am required to go to the clinic it is the market day, therefore when I go to the clinic, the market issues goes down…..”( PT. No 1)
In the support provided by men, they are faced by various barriers perceived as challenges from the early stages of pregnancy until they reach the place for delivery. These are in terms of infrastructures which facilitate transport to the health care facility, the general environment at the heath care facility and the attitude of the care providers after reaching the facility. Again because the issues of pregnancy were taken as for women only from previously, it is an attitude which will take time to dissolve though it is advantageous to women who are escorted by their partners as they are given priority of services antenatal at the clinic. The following are some responses from informants of this study.
“…..Infrastructures are not friendly; I have changed the route so that I can reach here. Roads are not good at all they need a very good driver otherwise the other driver may cause accident…” (PT. No 4)
After reaching in the hospital compound, men have different feelings of what is going on onto their partners while in the labour ward. Because they are forbidden to get inside the ward especially in the labour ward, there are men who would want to be involved in the care of their partners in this process of labour and delivery. Therefore according to the respondents in this study, different feelings came out as to whether they would want to witness their partners during delivery, as quoted from the following participants;
“…..Ooh…!! (with a big smile), I would like to assist when struggling especially during pushing by holding her and encouraging her to push. She used to tell me that they use a lot of energy at this point and sometimes help can be available and sometimes no help….” (PT. No 2); “yes! I would like to witness the delivery of my wife, but because there is no possibility, as when we reached here I was told to go out….”(PT. No 9)
In the other aspect, men wanted to be informed of what was going on onto their partners after leaving them to enter inside the labour ward. This was narrated by some informants who were complaining of why they are not informed; instead they just stay outside with tension and sometimes they are chased out. They are not allowed to be in the ward until the visiting hours which may take many hours before any feedback concerning their partners. This communication breakdown between health care workers and the men as relatives was narrated by respondents hereunder;
“…..I was received by the gate keeper, after that I was told to come in the ward, here I was told to go home my wife remained handled to a certain mama(nurse) on duty. I was not told of anything…..” I was not satisfied as I expected to be told to wait for anything on the progress of my wife, because even the phone was told that I should take it that they don’t allow women to stay with phones…..” (PT. No 6)
In relation to the perceived challenges faced by men who support their partners, a major part of the suggestion was directed to the government, especially to improve infrastructures for roads. This is for the reason to facilitate easy transport from where people are living towards the health care facility. These were according to responses of informants under this study as follows;
“.Infrastructure of roads should be improved so that patients reach the hospital smoothly,Infrastructures in hospital: environment to be improved, each ward to have patient’s care specific for privacy to be improved, so that there should be a place for relatives and partners to meet their patients as how it is in areas like prisons. (PT. No 1)
The other one also cemented on the views on what he thought could be best done to improve the situation of destructed roads and the health care workers; this is what he commented;
“…I think there are people who don’t have somewhere to report some information; therefore information may not reach at the required site. Media should reach these peripheral areas so that they inform the decision makers so that they work on the destructed infrastructures of roads. Also the health care workers have to identify themselves on what they say to clients, the language they use and the care they are providing….” (PT. No 4)
In accordance to informants under this study, each individual man is unique and therefore just encouraging other men will facilitate more men in the community to provide adequate support to their partners/wives, although education is still important to men in taking care of their partners.
“…….Advices to other men is that, they should be left free without interference; but they should be educated more on how they can care for their wives, just to encourage them. Because each family has their protocols, so I cannot interfere with others decision…..”( PT. No 8)