Clinical Practice Guidelines Antenatal care - Module I

2.4 Involving the woman’s family

Page last updated: 02 April 2013

“Women and their families should be assisted to prepare for pregnancy, birth and parenthood. Fathers have needs of their own as individuals and not simply as companions or supports for their partner.” (Chalmers et al 2001)

Woman-centred care encompasses the needs of the baby, the woman’s family, significant others and community, as identified and negotiated by the woman herself (ANMC 2006). Each woman should be asked about whom she would like to be involved in her care — some women may only want their partner involved while others may wish to involve a wider family or social network. A minority of women may have limited control over the family members who are involved in their antenatal care or the social environment in which the baby develops (eg exposure to passive smoking or domestic violence).

Involving fathers/partners in antenatal care enables them to participate in decision-making and be informed about the care pathway and environmental factors that may influence the health of the baby during pregnancy (eg maternal passive smoking) and after the birth (eg infectious diseases such as pertussis). Education and information about pregnancy and childbirth should be provided using the principles outlined in Section 2.3. Assessment and intervention for fathers/partners may also be a consideration (eg mental health, smoking cessation, immunisation).

Involvement of fathers/partners in antenatal care may also enable early intervention (eg family support) for families requiring additional assistance (COAG 2009).