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Epidural Pain, Fathers, Labor



  1. Chapman, Linda L. DNSc, RN


Purpose: A qualitative research study was conducted to describe and explain expectant fathers' experiences during labor when their partners receive labor epidurals.


Design: Grounded theory.


Methods: Seventeen couples were interviewed using a semi-structured interview format.


Results: Two major concepts were identified: "Losing Her" and "She's Back." The men reported that these were the two critical points at which the epidural affected their experience. The theory, "Cruising through Labor," explained the fathers' experiences.


Clinical Implications: Childbirth preparation classes that describe and explain women's responses to the increasing pain of labor contractions, the exhaustion of labor, and the effect of epidural analgesia could possibly assist men in preparing for the changes they will witness in their partners during the labor experience. Knowing that these changes are normal responses to the effects of labor might reduce men's levels of anxiety, frustration, and sense of helplessness. The labor nurse is a major support to the expectant fathers. Labor nurses who remain in the room during this phase, explain what is happening, and include the expectant father in their nursing care provide the best support.