The Lived Experience of a NICU Father: A Descriptive Phenomenological Study

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Florida Southern College
In the United States, one out of every nine babies born is premature, many of which are admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) due to their prematurity. Additionally, admission rates to the NICU for normal-birth-weight infants continue to rise. These infants often require a long-term stay due to their many medical issues and complications. Early separation from the infant due to the NICU stay is associated with high levels of distress in mothers, but there is limited research on the fathers’ experiences. The purpose of this descriptive phenomenological study was to explore the paternal experience of having a child admitted to the NICU. Six participants were purposefully recruited based on their unique understanding of the phenomenon of interest. Participants completed an audio-recorded semi-structured interview. Interviews were transcribed using pseudonyms. Thematic analysis revealed five themes: horrible storm, piece by piece, “I’m the father”, the gift of support, and little fighters. The results of this study will help health care professionals in the development of interventions that promote family-centered and developmentally supportive care.
Honors thesis Spring 2019
Neonatal intensive care, Premature infants, Premature infants—Hospital care, Premature infants—Home care, Fathers, Parent and child