Fathers of refugee background are dealing with multiple, interrelated stressors associated with forced migration and establishing their lives in a new country. This has implications for the role of men in promoting the health and well-being of their families.
Afghan community researchers conducted interviews with 30 Afghan women and men who had recently had a baby in Australia. Interviews and focus groups were conducted with health professionals working with families of refugee background.
Fourteen men, 16 women, and 34 health professionals participated. Afghan men reported playing a major role in supporting their wives during pregnancy and postnatal care, accompanying their wives to appointments, and providing language and transport support. Although men embraced these roles, they were rarely asked by health professionals about their own concerns related to their wife's pregnancy, or about their social circumstances. Perinatal health professionals queried whether it was their role to meet the needs of men.
There are many challenges for families of refugee background navigating maternity services while dealing with the challenges of settlement. There is a need to move beyond a narrow conceptualization of antenatal and postnatal care to encompass a broader preventive and primary care approach to supporting refugee families through the period of pregnancy and early years of parenting. Pregnancy and postnatal care needs to be tailored to the social and psychological needs of families of refugee background, including men, and incorporate appropriate language support, in order to improve child and family health outcomes.