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2019 YEAR IN REVIEW: Becoming Assistant Professor

It was quite a hectic year, both personally and professionally. Having my second child born right at the end of 2018 meant that I/we were raising an infant for all of 2019, which isn’t ever easy on anyone. The relentless parenting was further exacerbated by kid #2 going in-and-out of the ER throughout the year. Nevertheless, work progress was made 🙂

My biggest accomplishment was going from being a postdoc in Public Health Sciences at Karolinska Institutet, to being an Assistant Professor (Biträdande Lektor) in Women’s and Children’s Health at Karolinska Institutet. Both programs are consistently ranked in the top 10 in the world, at least for their graduate programs, which is who I teach to.

Screenshot 2020-01-01 at 20.56.32

Having the hierarchical bump not only meant an increase in salary, but also an increase in my employment contract length, going from more standard postdoc contracts (12-months) to having a six-year position, with the automatic possibility of promotion to Lektor (Senior Lecturer…..similar to tenured Associate Professor in the USA). So now I have a tenure-track position and can actually focus on my work rather than on whether I need to look for another job.

However, my work dramatically shifted. This wasn’t just because of changing from public health to midwifery (the main unit I work for), but also because I was moving from being research oriented to being teaching oriented. Now 90% of my job is teaching, with only 10% research, compared to the reverse in public health. This meant wrapping up old projects, and re-focusing my efforts…..as well as trying to grasp that I wouldn’t be “as productive” in publications as previous years due to this shift.

While slightly cumbersome to take on teaching, I have been craving teaching for years, and begging other course leaders to let me guest lecture. So the shift to teaching is still very much welcomed and I looked forward to implementing my passion and love of student engagement.

Publications

In 2019, I had three publications; all of which I was the senior author. In Sweden, as well as in my field, being last author is equally as important as first author, where each are weighted at 40%, respectively, while the middle authorship divides the remaining 20% (e..g if there are three authors, the middle author gets 20% credit, while if there are four authors, the two middle authors get 10% credit). Being the last author is therefore important for my career, as it shows that I can lead others in publishing a study, as well as overseeing an entire study.

Two out of the three publications were from former students (#2 & #3) who wanted to turn their masters thesis into a publication. I am always very happy to work with students who want to meet their goals and publish their first paper! Both of these papers have received four citations, respectively, during 2019, and therefore were well-received in their research field.

  1. Johansson, M., Thies-Lagergren, L., & Wells, M. B. (2019). Mothers´ experiences in relation to a new Swedish postnatal home-based model of midwifery care–A cross-sectional study. Midwifery, 78, 140-149.
  2. Klittmark, S., Garzón, M., Andersson, E., & Wells, M. B. (2018). LGBTQ competence wanted: LGBTQ parents’ experiences of reproductive health care in Sweden. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences, 33, 417-426.
  3. Vallin, E., Nestander, H., & Wells, M. B. (2019). A literature review and meta-ethnography of fathers’ psychological health and received social support during unpredictable complicated childbirths. Midwifery, 68, 48-55.

This gives me a total of 22 peer-reviewed publications; of which, four are literature reviews. Aside from these publications, I currently have seven articles under review (three of which are revise-and-resubmit) and another 14 articles that have at least a manuscript written. So hopefully 2020 will be a year with several publications 🙂

Citations

In 2018, I had a total of 263 citations (i10-index and h-index of 10, respectively). As of January 1st, 2019,  I have a total of 399 citations, according to ScholarGoogle. The number of citations may increase over the coming weeks/months, as they fluctuated a bit last year. While I had 73 citations last year, this year I had 111 citations.

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A main impetus for the increase in citations is due to a sole author article entitled Predicting preschool teacher retention and turnover in newly hired Head Start teachers across the first half of the school year which was published in Early Childhood Research Quarterly. For example, while it was my second most-cited paper last year, it only had 28 citations, compared to the end of this year where it is now my most-cited paper with 72 citations.

I’m very happy that out of all of my articles, that it was this one that’s “taken off” a bit. I vividly remember completing the analysis to this paper at home, after a long night and early morning of coding and biking in to work to impress my co-supervisor, only to have my bike chain fall off while going down hill. This resulted in me flipping off my bike and having severe enough traumatic back pain to be ambulance to the ER from the Uppsala Train Station….because when you’re super happy and excited, why wouldn’t you come (literally) crashing down?

ResearchGate

My ResearchGate score increased to 27.96. Not entirely dramatic from my 2018 RG score of 27.20. The new score places me within the top 85% of RG users.

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Teaching

I taught for one semester in 2019. I was the course leader for three courses in the Midwifery Unit of Women’s and Children’s Health:

  1. Examensarbete (Thesis Course)

As a brief overview, In this course, Midwifery (master) students conduct their thesis. As the course leader, I instruct them on the different sections of a thesis, as well as how to conduct their research, develop a project plan, and guide and host their defenses. This is a ten-week full-time course.

2. Global Health

Global Health is an international online English-language course where students learn about issues relevant to global health within the context of sexual and reproductive health. This semester we held the course between Sweden and the Netherlands, where students from the two nations worked together in small groups. This is a three-week full-time course.

3. Research Methods

This course focuses on students developing basic research methods skills, such as quantitative and qualitative research skills, as well as how to conduct literature reviews. This is a two-week full-time course.

I/we also applied for and received funding for a new course entitled Implementing Strategies for Quality Improvement in Healthcare Settings. This is a course I’ll give to medical professionals, such as physicians, midwives, nurses, physiotherapists, and dieticians. The course is an online English-language course that is offered to people around the world. The course will start in the fall of 2020.

Conferences

I was an invited speaker at three different events this year:

  1. Invited Speaker. Wells, M.B. (2019, Nov.). The Importance of Involving and Supporting Fathers in Parent Groups. Region Sörmland, Sweden.
  2. Invited Speaker. Wells, M.B. (2019, Oct.). Pappas delaktighet (Fathers’ Involvement). Nationella barnhälsovårds Konferens (The Swedish National Child Healthcare Conference). Eskilstuna, Sweden.
  3. Invited Speaker. Wells, M.B. (2019, March). Led a Roundtable at the pre-conference: Fathers are parents too! Broadening Research on Parenting for Child Development. Society for Research on Child Development. Baltimore, MD.

I have to say that I really enjoyed talking with Region Sörmland’s BVC nurses, who genuinely took an interest in wanting to make their child health services more equitable to all parents. It was quite inspiring.

My colleagues presented our research at different conferences:

  1. Johansson, M., Theis-Lagergren, L. & Wells, M.B. (2019, May). Mothers’ experiences in relation to a new Swedish postnatal home-based model of midwifery care. The 21st Congress of the Nordic Federation of Midwives, Reykjavik, Iceland.
  2. Klittmark, S, Garzòn, M., Andersson, E., & Wells, M.B. (Nov. 2019). LGBTQ Competence Wanted: LGBTQ Parents’ Experiences Of Reproductive Health Care In Sweden. Poster presented at the 6th EMA Education Conference – The midwifery education – fit for the 21st Century, Gothenburg, Sweden.
  3. Kerstis, B., Wells, M.B., & Andersson, E. (2019, April). Father group leaders’ experiences of creating an arena for father support—A qualitative study. Barnveckan, Örebro, Sweden.

Supervision

I did a lot of thesis supervision in 2019. Four theses in Midwifery (the first four) were part of my normal job duties in my new position), while the other six thesis were done either to help move my own research project forward or because I enjoyed the topic. I was the main supervisor to all theses except Marina’s, where I was the co-supervisor.

  1. Siri Engberg (2019). Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, Karolinska Institutet. Meeting the challenges- a qualitative study of midwives’ experiences of contraceptive counselling (Möta utmaningarna- en kvalitativ studie om barnmorskors erfarenheter av dagens preventivmedelsrådgivning). I was the main supervisor.
  2. Petra Östlund & Cecilia Holmqvist (2019). Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, Karolinska Institutet. Family life starts at home -fathers’ experience of a new home-based postnatal care model (Familjelivet börjar i hemmet -pappors upplevelser av en ny modell för eftervård i hemmet). I was the main supervisor.
  3. Gabriella Espinosa & Vanne Dupo Kjellin (2019). Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, Karolinska Institutet. Female genital self-image affects women’s sexual function: A cross-sectional study (Genital självbild påverkar kvinnors sexuella funktion: En tvärsnittsstudie). I was the main supervisor.
  4. Mirian Parrish (2019). Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, Karolinska Institutet. Barnmorskors erfarenheter vad gäller samtal med minderåriga abortsökande (Midwives experiences in counceling with underage abortion applicants).
  5. Vanessa Place (2019). Department of Global Health, Karolinska Institutet. Facilitators and barriers to the implementation of a new clinical visit for fathers at Stockholm County child health centres: A qualitative study of nurse-managers at the top-performing centres.
  6. Ebba Hasselqvist and Laura Stathakis (2019). Department of Women’s and Children’s Health. Mothers have a higher orgasm satisfaction than non-mothers-A quantitative cross-sectional study (Mödrar är mer tillfredsställda med sin orgasm än icke-mödrar-en kvantitativ tvärsnittsstudie).
  7. Marco Ben (2019). Department of Global Health, Karolinska Institutet. Perceived father’s needs and concerns in the prenatal, perinatal, postnatal, and home care periods for a healthy transition into fatherhood: A review of reviews.
  8. Ilio Allberg (2019). Department of Psychology. Fathers’ Experience of Targeted Father Visits Within Child Health Centers in Stockholm County: An Evaluation of the Implementation and Outcomes of a Series of New Father Visits to the Swedish Child Health Centers.
  9. Rachel-Ochido Odonde (2019). Department of Global Health, Karolinska Institutet. Evaluating implementation fidelity to Stockholm County’s father-only visit programme among child health nurses.
  10. Marina Dehara (2019). Department of Public Health Sciences, Karolinska Institutet. Parenthood is associated with a lower risk of suicide: A register-based cohort study of 1,582,360 Swedes.

Ebba and Laura worked impressively hard on a very cool topic. Since two former students had used this same dataset and won the best Reproductive Health thesis in Sweden award, I felt like Ebba and Laura should have been equally recognized….but you can’t be the best every year 😉

Meanwhile Vanessa, Ilio and Rachel-Ochido (Ibi) all did amazing work assessing the new clinical visit for fathers project, where I am the PI.

Marina really stood out as an outstanding researcher. So much so, that we not only will try to publish her thesis (currently under review) + one more paper together, but I also recommended her to two PhD positions, of which she was offered both positions!

I’m very proud of all of my students’ hard work. For example, Siri and Marian both did their thesis independently, when they should have had a partner, Gabi and Vanne conducted their own study from scratch, and Petra/Cecilia are in the process of re-working their thesis into a publication. Marco took on one of the biggest projects I’ve had a student do, and came up with a paternal care model that I love and hope to publish one day, although sadly probably not for a year or two.

Lastly, I was the examiner for five master-level theses in 2019.

Research Grants

While my first (and only) research grant ended at the end of 2018, I received another new grant at the end of 2019, which will be viable in 2020:

  1. Systembolagets Alkoholforskningsråd. Utvärdering av en barnmorskeledd Internetbaserad modell för att förebygga drogan (Evaluation of a midwife-led Internet-based model for drug prevention). Specific aims: To evaluate via a randomized controlled trial the effect of providing Internet-based video conferencing support compared to standard care for a drug-free pregnancy. Project period: 01/01/2020-12/31/2020.
  • I am the Principle Investigator
  • Total project grant: 250,000 SEK.

PhD Supervision

I am the co-supervisor to a PhD student:

  1. Olov Aronson. Department of Welfare and Social Sciences, Jönköping University. Preliminary dissertation title: The formation and characteristics of friendship: Inquiries into the conditions and experiences of adolescents of foreign origin.

In the Autumn of 2019, Olov successfully completed his half-time. He has all four manuscripts written, although none are accepted yet. He’s been super productive, knows a ton of amazing stats, and teaches incredibly well.

Miscellaneous

I helped with two PhD dissertation pre-defense by acting like the opponent:

  • Melody Almroth (2019). Adolescents’ future academic prospects: Predictors and mental health outcomes. Department of Public Health Sciences, Karolinska Institutet.
  • Regina Winzer (2019). Aspects of positive and negative mental health in young people, aged 16-29 years: measurements, determinants, and interventions. Department of Public Health, Karolinska Institutet

I was the referee for several article submissions with various journals.

I also continued to guest lecture at DIS in Brain Development, as well as various courses within the Public Health and Global Health master-track programs.

All-in-all, a quite important career year!

2018 Year in Review: My students receive the Best Reproductive Health thesis in Sweden Award

It’s June 2019, and I’m finally writing my review of 2018. Needless to say, it’s been a bit hectic, not the least of which is because of having baby #2 being born. However, I did take screenshots of different accomplishments on January 1st, so I have the correct numbers 🙂

Publications

Officially, I had five publications in 2018. I was able to wrap-up data analysis on my Head Start study I conducted while living in the USA (paper #4). This is the third publication from my research on preschool teacher retention. I was also able to publish, along with my former master students, a paper on screening fathers for postpartum depression (paper #1). I am the most proud of this paper, hoping that it can help lead to real organizational change, where we can start routinely screening fathers for postpartum depression during a new clinical visit for fathers at the Swedish child health centers when their infant is 3-5 months old.

  1. Modin Asper, M., Hallén, N., Lindberg, L., Månsdotter, A., Carlberg, M., & Wells, M.B. (2018). Screening fathers for postpartum depression is cost-effective: An example from Sweden. Journal of Affective Disorders, 241, 154-163. PMID: 30121448

https://www-ncbi-nlm-nih-gov.proxy.kib.ki.se/pubmed/?term=30121448

  1. Berglind, D., Nyberg, G., Wilmer, M., Persson, M., Wells, M., & Forsell, Y. (2018). An eHealth program verses a standard care supervised health program and associated heaandaljasdfljaksdflskjlth outcomes in individuals with mobility disability: protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Trials, 19:258. PMID: 29703242

https://www-ncbi-nlm-nih-gov.proxy.kib.ki.se/pubmed/?term=29703242

  1. Bergström, M, Fransson, E., Wells, M.B., Köhler, L., & Hjern, A. (2018). Children with two homes-Psychological problems in relation to living arrangements in Nordic 2-9 year olds. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 1-9. PMID: 29644929

https://www-ncbi-nlm-nih-gov.proxy.kib.ki.se/pubmed/?term=29644929

  1. Jeon, L. & Wells, M.B. (2018). An Organizational-Level Analysis of Early Childhood Teachers’ Job Attitudes: Workplace Satisfaction Affects Early Head Start and Head Start Teacher Turnover. Child & Youth Care Forum, 47, 563-581.

https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s10566-018-9444-3.pdf

5. Kerstis, B., Wells, M.B., & Andersson, E. (2018). Father group leaders’ experience of             creating an arena for father support: A Qualitative Study. Scandinavian Journal of               Caring Sciences, 32, 943-950. PMID: 28906024

https://www-ncbi-nlm-nih-gov.proxy.kib.ki.se/pubmed/?term=28906024

These publications bring my total peer-reviewed publications to 20! A nice round number and potentially enough to apply for docent. However, I have three literature reviews, two of which demonstrate a qualitative analysis (e.g. meta-synthesis). However, it’s not clear if these articles count as “original articles”. So far, talking with different levels of Public Health management, it seems the only known consensus is that meta-analyses count, but they do not know about meta-syntheses.

I also published a book chapter with my former master-level supervisor, Dr. Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan.

  1. Schoppe-Sullivan, S. J., Berrigan, M. N., & Wells, M. B. (2018). Rivalry in coparenting at the transition to parenthood. In S. Hart & N. A. Jones (Eds.), The psychology of rivalry. Nova Science Publishers.

https://novapublishers.com/shop/the-psychology-of-rivalry/

Citations

In 2017, I had 194 total citations, with an i10-Index of 9 and an H-index of 9, according to ScholarGoogle. The citations, at that time, stated I had 57 citations for 2017. However, as January/February rolled on, these numbers eventually increased to 60 (in 2016 I had 54 citations, so about a 10% increase in citations). In 2018, my citations ended up at an additional 68, so about 13% increase from 2017), for a total of 263 citations and an i10-Index of 10 and H-Index of 10.

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ResearchGate

My ResearchGate (RG) numbers also increased to 27.20, placing me in the top 82.5% of RG users. Of course, years ago, I asked a couple of questions and answered a few as well, which thus inflates my RG score compared to those who only use RG to promote their publications. As of now though, there’s no way to see your RG score sans Questions/Answers.

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Conferences

My colleagues, especially Dr. Sarah Lang & Dr. Lieny Jeon gave two oral presentations, respectively, on our collaborative research:

  1. Lang, S., Wells, M.B., Jeon, L., & Buettner, C.K. (2018, Aug). Examination of coaching as a professional development strategy for ECE professionals: What are we missing? European Early Childhood Education Research Association (EECERA), Budapest, Hungary.
  2. Jeon, L., Buettner, C.K., Lang, S., & Wells, M. (2018, Aug). Perceptions of Professional Development and Teaching Efficacy: Implications for Success or Failure. European Early Childhood Education Research Association (EECERA), Budapest, Hungary.

I was also able to attend two conferences: 1) The World Psychiatric Association Epidemiology and Public Health Section in New York, USA and 2) The National Council on Family Relations Conference in Minnesota, USA.

  1. Wells, M.B. & Lindberg, L. (May 2018). Mental Health Support Swedish Child Health Nurses Provide to Mothers and Fathers: Is it Equal? Poster presented at the World Psychiatric Association Epidemiology and Public Health Section, New York, USA.
  2. Wells, M.B., Modin Asper, M., Hallén, N., Carlberg, M., & Lindberg, L. (May 2018). Screening fathers in Sweden for Postpartum Depression is Cost-effective. Poster presented at the World Psychiatric Association Epidemiology and Public Health Section, New York, USA.
  3. Wells, M.B. (2018, Nov.). Comparing Swedish child health nurses’ attitudes toward fathers in 2014 and 2017. Poster presented at the 2018 National Council on Family Relations, San Diego, CA, USA.
  4. Klittmark, S., Garzón, M., Andersson, E., & Wells, M.B.* (2018, Nov.). LGBTQ Competence Wanted: LGBTQ Parents’ experiences of reproductive healthcare. Poster presented at the 2018 National Council on Family Relations, San Diego, CA, USA.

Grant for Evaluating the Father Visit in Stockholm County Child Health Centers

From 2017-2018, I received a grant to evaluate a new clinical visit for fathers at the Stockholm County child health centers from Stockholm Län Landsting. During 2018 I was able to collect the bulk of the data, since the program was being implemented throughout 2017. I now have both qualitative and quantitative data from the nurses, quantitative data from fathers, and qualitative interviews with the mentors and program management.

The nurses’ quantitative data, in a basic sense, consists of 1) their attitudes towards fathers as carers of infants + background data (Baseline, Time 1, gathered during their half-day trainings in 2017), 2) their attitudes towards the training + if they have started implementing the father visits + their and their CHCs’ attitudes toward implementing the fathers’ visits (Time 2, about 2-3 months post-training), and 3) their self-evaluation of adhering to the implementation of the program + additional support that they require. While the response rate was quite high for Time 1 (87+%), it was a bit over 50% for Time 2 and 3, respectively, suggesting that CHC nurses would rather complete questionnaires during a training session than via email during their normal working day.

I also hired a research assistant to interview nurses’, as well as the mentors/program leaders’ opinions, of how the father visits were going.

I then developed Facebook advertisements aimed at fathers in Stockholm County. The ad allowed FB users to click on it, which took them to the online quantitative survey. I then asked fathers a series of questions referring to i) their socio-demographic background, ii) their pre- and post-natal care involvement and experiences, iii) their involvement and experiences at the CHC home visit, 3-5 week (later 1-3 week) visit, and the 3-5 month father visit. At this stage, fathers could either elect to stop completing the questionnaire and turn it in, or they could continue. If they elected to continue, they would complete three validated questionnaires: i) The Coparenting Relationship Scale, ii) the Parent-infant Bonding Questionnaire, and iii) the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, as the CHC nurses should have helped support fathers in these three aspects. About 424 fathers completed the first section and 290 complete the full questionnaire (first section + three validated questionnaires).

Quantitative data on fathers was collected in December 2018-January 2019. While this survey was anonymous, fathers could add in their email address if they would like to be contacted more in the future. I haven’t exactly run the numbers of this, but I think it’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 60% of fathers provided their email address.

Supervision

I was the supervisor to two master-level theses in 2018. In Nordin and Hedlöf’s thesis, we created a quantitative anonymous online survey regarding women’s sex lives. I was very concerned that they wouldn’t be able to collect data, because the questionnaire asked sensitive questions about women’s sex lives. However, in about two weeks, we had around 2,500 respondents.

  1. Antonia Nordin and Jenny Hedlöf (2018). Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, Karolinska Institutet. Perceived genital response is associated with a better satisfaction of sex life—an online survey study (Upplevd genital respons är förknippat med ett mer uppskattat sexlive—en online enkätstudie). I am the main supervisor.
  2. Lotta Huczkowsky Borg and My Linnér (2018). Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, Karolinska Institutet. Mammors upplevelser av amning och erfarenheter av amningsstöd: En kvalitativ intervjustudie (Mothers´ experiences of breastfeeding and perceptions of breastfeeding support: A qualitative interview study). I am the main supervisor.

Nordin and Hedlöf’s thesis went on to win the Best Reproductive Health thesis in Sweden award. In all of my personal accomplishments as a researcher, this is the one I am most proud of–seeing my students succeed and do great research!

I was also the examiner for six master-level theses in 2018:

  1. Sanjana Ravi Kumar (2018). Global Health, Department of Public Health Sciences. “Art is an injection that cures us”-Art based interventions for patients with severe mental illness at community mental health centers in Kerala, South India.
  2. Paulien Korsten (2018). Global Health, Department of Public Health Sciences. Effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and feasibility of pre-migration screening for tuberculosis in low-incidence countries: a scoping review.
  3. Yesica Quispe Arbieto & Catarina Simunovich Barraza (2018). Department of Women’s and Children’s Health. Hur utfö barnmorskor och läkare episiotomi? En enkätbaserad pilotstudie (How do midwives and doctors perform episiotomy? A survey based pilot study).
  4. Jaqueline Pettersson & Andréa Packalén (2018). Department of Women’s and Children’s Health. Experiences and knowledge on Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex (D-MER) while Breastfeeding-A study by means of a mixed method design approach (Erfarenheter och kunskap om Dysforisk mjölkutdrivningsreflex i samband med amning-En studie med hjälp av Mixad metod).
  5. Hanan Abou Hachem & Irma Flores (2018). Department of Women’s and Children’s Health. Kulturtolksdoula – En ”bro” som leder till god förlossningsupplevelse. Arabisktalande kvinnors upplevelse av att få stöd av en kulturtolksdoula under graviditet och förlossning: En kvalitativ tematisk analysstudie (Community based doula – ”A bridge” that leads to a good delivery experience. Experiences of Arabic speaking women of community based doula’s support during late pregnancy and childbirth: A qualitative thematic analysis study).
  6. Johanna Stjarnfeldt (2018). Department of Public Health Sciences. Masculinity, social capital and testing for Chlamydia infection: An explorative study about young men’s experiences of health service utilization for testing for Chlamydia (CT) infection in Stockholm.

Miscellaneous

I also helped teach in a number of courses within PHS and KBH at KI, as well as in Brain Development at DIS, and in Psychology at Stockholm University. Furthermore, I reviewed for a number of journals.

In total, below are all of the journals I have reviewed for over the years:

  • Pediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology
  • PLOS One
  • American Journal of Community Psychology
  • Journal of Family Issues
  • BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
  • Health Expectations
  • The International Journal of Human Resource Management
  • Journal of Family Science
  • Early Childhood Development and Care
  • European Journal of Teacher Education
  • Journal of Child Health Care
  • Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences
  • Nordic Journal of Nursing Research
  • Men & Masculinities

 

 

Supporting fathers in the Swedish child health field

I recently published a literature review and meta-ethnography entitled Literature review shows that fathers are still not receiving the support they want and need from Swedish child health professionals in Acta Paediatrica.

This article received a lot of attention when it was first published. For example, Sverige’s vetenskapsradio first interviewed me on the findings. Then TT picked it up, meaning that the story was in every newspaper, from national to local newspapers. Before being interviewed by a national news program, Rapport.

It was further promoted by different organizations, such as Män för Jämställdhet. And other writers/bloggers talked about it.

What was really cool was that Sven Bremberg was asked by Acta Paediatrica to write an editorial which he called Supporting fathers is essential in the child health field

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So I had my 15 minutes of fame.

Now, a year or so later, I have finally had the time to make my first video. I’ve always wanted to promote my research through videos, but haven’t had the time. I’m highly critical of the final product, both of the video and the content, but it was my first attempt and it was a fun learning experience.

In fact, as a researcher, it’s hard to see your work lose it’s nuance. I thought enough nuance was lost when publishing it, as word counts affected how many details I could say. But trying to make a 5 minute video left very little room for nuance.

What I attempted to do was to show four examples–one from each arena within the child health field: prenatal, labor & birth, postnatal, and child health centers. I wanted to show two positive examples of ways midwives and nurses support fathers and two examples where support could be improved. However the two examples of improved support are more on the organizational/managerial level, rather than critiques of midwives’/nurses’ attitudes and support given to fathers.

Perhaps future videos will be made to provide a more nuanced understanding of the support fathers receive in the different child health arenas. Until then, I have my first overview video.

Sixth Parental Group Meeting:

This is the last parent group meeting pre-children. It was held in the morning (second meeting at this time point), and every parent showed up for this final meeting.

The meeting opened with a psychologist talking about the post-pregnancy blues. She defined that has the mother having a lot of hormonal changes, often leading to crying, especially for the first three days, as well as having symptoms of depression.

The psychologist further stated that if the depressive symptoms lasted for 10 days or more, then the parent (either the mother or the father may have postpartum depression) should call the psychologist (who seemed to be funded through the antenatal clinics).

Her main message:

  1. Don’t be too hard on yourself
  2. Call a psychologist sooner rather than later
    • So symptoms don’t get worse
    • The parent can start receiving support.

The midwife then took over and advised us to break into groups, while eating fika, to discuss how we currently divide our time as a couple and for personal time (today) and how we plan to divide our time as an individual, a couple, and as a family once the baby arrives.

IMG_5759

 

The midwife though didn’t offer any sage advice. Rather, she simply listened as each group described their time spent with the family, the relationship, and by themselves.

IMG_5761
Our answers: Notice our alone time didn’t change, but we increased our overall family hours by 14 hours believing we’d receive 2 hours less sleep per night spent on the baby.

She then thanked us and wished everyone a Merry Christmas!

We will meet one more time in March, after everyone has their baby.

Fifth Prenatal Parent Group Meeting: Visiting the Labor & Birth Ward

At the fifth prenatal parent group meeting we were told to not come to our usual meeting place; instead, go to Uppsala’s Academic Hospital.

Everything suddenly became so real. The ultrasound brought the baby to life. Charting the growth of the uterus was exciting!

Going to the hospital where my baby will one day be born = slightly scary and exhilarating.

One couple and one expectant father did not show up to this meeting. The rest of us searched for where we were supposed to go….but luckily we had found each other 🙂

Eventually we worked our way down to a basement, and found the rest of the group. A midwife from Hjärtet met us there, introduced us to another midwife who works in the labor & birth ward, and then left us with her, while we got the grand tour.

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We started by seeing the waiting room, where we were told that while expectant mothers are fed, there is no food for the expectant fathers; therefore, they are encouraged to bring their own food, label and date it, and put it in the fridge. Or they could go upstairs and buy food at the food court (if you happen to give birth during normal business hours).

Then we made our way to the bathing area. There was a large bathtub that expectant mothers are encouraged to go in while they’re in labor. There’s even enough room for the expectant father; although we’re told he should wear a bathing suit (apparently because the medical staff may walk in, and for some unknown reason, seeing a naked man, but not a naked woman, is unacceptable).

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Then we made our way to a potential birthing room. It was dull and drab. The midwife pointed out that there were no curtains. And then pointed out that we should feel free to bring objects and entertainment with, since we could be there for several hours before actually giving birth.

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We all sat around the rim of the room, while the midwife sat in the middle, demonstrating to us different tools that could be used, as well as different ways expectant mothers could use the room.

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The size the baby will be, along with a demonstration of holding the baby, resting on the mothers’ chest, and cutting the umbilical cord.
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A cord used to measure the infant’s heartbeat.
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A close-up of the bit that actually measures the heart beat.
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A manual vacuum extraction pump.

This was a very informative visit, and let expectant parents know what to expect, see where to go, and feel more comfortable in their soon-to-be surroundings.

Side note: Interestingly, nearly all of the expectant fathers asked various questions about the birthing process, the medical instruments the midwife described, and made joking comments, while only one expectant mother (Lisa) asked a question.

Second (cultural) side note: There was one comfy leather chair to sit on, while nearly all other chairs were hard metal (e.g. not comfortable). In typical Swedish fashion, no one took the comfy chair until the last couple came in. And then the expectant mother sat on the only remaining metal chair, giving the comfy leather chair to the expectant father….a few minutes later he got up and gave it to his partner.

 

Fourth Prenatal Parent Group Meeting: Tragedies of Giving Birth

At the fourth prenatal parent group meeting we discussed some of the complications and tragedies of childbirth.

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Some people did not attend this meeting. While all of the previous meeting had been held in the afternoon, this was the first meeting held in the early morning. One couple came late (traveling from Uplands Väsby), one researcher couple did not attend, and an expectant father (who lives in Örebro).

All expectant parents who attended noted how tired they were.

Quick side note: The midwife always uses the term “pappa/partner” despite the fact that everyone is an expectant father, and one person will be an expectant grandma.

The meeting kicked off by having a child health nurse from the child health centers (barnvårdcentral [BVC]) come in and introduce herself, as well as discuss what the BVC is good for:

  • A place to visit while the child is 0 – 6 years old
  • Do child health check-ups (preventive work)
    • Growth and development
    • Weight and height
  • Offers parenting advice
  • Parent education classes during the infant’s first year

Then the midwife re-entered the room to start discussing the complications of pregnancy.

Pre-Birth

A rehash from the third meeting was stated–where expectant parents should stay comfortable prior to coming to the hospital via massages, baths, and doing other soothing activities (e.g. petting your pets).

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When to go to the Labor & Birth Ward

We were instructed to go to the labor and birth ward not when the expectant mothers’ water breaks, but when she has had three contractions in the span of ten minutes. Each contraction, we’re told, should last for about a minute and will be intense and mildly painful (I say mildly only in comparison for what’s to come).

Prior to this, she may have a contraction every hour (or even more often), but if they are that far apart, there is no reason to rush to the hospital.

We’re told that the water breaking can be quite different for different people. Some actually have a gush of fluid come out of their vagina, letting everyone around them know they’re going into labor soon, while others have little to no liquids leaving their body.

Ways to Give Birth

There are a variety of ways to give birth–laying on your back, kneeling, standing up, in water, etc. In Sweden, we’re told by the midwife, that they encourage expectant mothers to walk around, to use their hospital room, to use a pilates ball prior to giving birth.

If expectant mothers are having pain, they can use epidurals, laughing gas, sterile hot water, acupuncture, and a few other things. Little information is given about the consequences of using any of these methods; although each method is described (e.g. how it works, how you feel if you take it).

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Different methods of pain relief.

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A Normal Birth

We were told by the midwife that in most cases, parents have a normal birth, meaning that they do not need to have a cesarean section, that the father will cut the umbilical cord, and that the baby will immediately start to breastfeed, while the mother is topless (skin-to-skin contact).

Immediately following birth, the baby will be placed on the mothers’ chest, and be encouraged to start breastfeeding. After one to three minutes, the umbilical cord will be cut. We’re told that this will allow all of leftover nutrients still in the umbilical cord to reach the baby.

The placenta, we’re told, should come out within the first 30 minutes. If not, a procedure will need to be done in order to remove it.

Breastfeeding
The importance of breastfeeding immediately following birth and the baby’s first meal is stressed. Apparently there are extra vitamins/nutrients in the first eating that are stored in the mothers’ breast; therefore, expectant mothers shouldn’t try to pump breast milk prior to giving birth. This process could take a while, and complications do arise with baby’s potentially not having a good sucking reflex. Of course, mothers may also experience tender nipples.

The Fathers’ Turn

Due mainly to breastfeeding, after the mother has had the infant for about an hour, the father can than start to hold the baby, with skin-to-skin contact being the preferred method.

Vacuum Extraction

Some infants require birth via vacuum extraction. This can happen in one of two ways-either they put a suction-cup on the baby’s head via the vaginal canal and then pull the baby out using the strength from their hand (and only pulling when there are contractions) or to use an electrical machine that does basically the same job as the manual vacuum extraction.

Doing this, we’re told, will not damage the infant, but will leave a red mark (bruise-like feature) on the top of the baby’s head (where the suction-cup was placed).

Acute and Super Acute Cesarean Sections

While some expectant mothers will have a planned cesarean section, others, she warned, will have either an acute cesarean section or a “super acute” cesarean section.

The main difference refers to the amount of prep time doctors, midwives, nurses, and other staff have to prepare for the cesarean section. In a typical acute situation, the midwife said that they normally have about thirty minutes to prepare pre-cesarean. Life is less chaotic for the expectant parents and for the medical staff. However, if a “super acute” cesarean needs to happen, then it means that either the infant or expectant mothers’ life is in danger and the infant needs to be removed (for lack of a better word) immediately. In this scenario, medical staff have maybe up to 15 minutes to prepare, and the expectant parents’ hospital room is typically swarmed with multiple medical personnel, which can cause not only chaos between the two expectant parents, but also added stress, frustration, and alarment. Therefore, it’s important to be aware that this scenario could happen.

After the C-section

We were then warned by the midwife that after a cesarean section, the new father would be handed the baby, and they would be left to their own devices for probably 2-4 hours, while the mother is taken to an operating room to be sown up and recover from surgery.

Only after she’s alert again, will the father, infant, and mother finally unite as one family, and breastfeeding can then commence.

Conclusions:

Since many expectant parents can have great amounts of fear regarding giving birth, it’s great to know what your options are and what to expect. This meeting provided a lot of useful advice.

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Lisa took copious notes.

 

Third Prenatal Parent Group Meeting: Preparations for Birth

At the third parent group meeting we discussed what would happen right before you go to the hospital to give birth.

No one was missing, except my partner.

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We first went over topics we had discussed at the previous meeting (e.g. relationships), and then started jumping into preparations for giving birth.

We were all handed a book on breastfeeding (slightly weird, since we talked at length about breastfeeding during the first meeting).

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The midwife checked in with all people present about their current pregnancy situation–one by one. In other words, expectant mothers were not given any extra time or questioning compared to expectant fathers.

Most expectant mothers complained about losing sleep, changing their walking habits, and looking forward to not being pregnant. While most of the guys either agreed with their partner or restated similar sentiments.

Two women complained about a pain in her side. The midwife, later in the evening brought up this ligament in her talk, and suggested that due to the baby growing, the pain from the ligament could affect every expectant mother.

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Since Lisa wasn’t present, I spoke for her, saying that she was losing sleep, but that she was waking up a couple of times a night due to her acid (no solutions or suggestions were provided).

I then said that I was losing sleep and needed to support Lisa during the night with her acid. This was met with laughter from the parents, with one expectant mother exclaiming “oh, poor you.”

“No seriously,” I replied. “And I can see the lack of sleep starting to affect both of us. Now not just one person is irritable, but two people are, which can add to various relationship problems.”

People still laughed, although not as much as the first time. The midwife waited a second before moving on to the next person. Actually, in thinking about it, not only did the midwife not validate my concerns, but she failed to provide any insight to any individual or couple–she let everyone talk about their problem(s), but offered no sage advice or even thoughts.

Sage Advice

After we were all done sharing our problems and concerns (and joys) related to the pregnancy, the midwife then went over several “useful” tips for preparing for birth.

  • Take baths to relax your body
  • Have your partner give you a massage
  • Do relaxing things in your house
  • Play with your pets
  • Take a shower/bath before going to the hospital
  • Eat food before going to the hospital

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We then did a basic profylax course. Profylax is a type of massage that you can give to your partner to make them feel better. There are whole courses that you can take (for a fee) that teach you how to do profylax massages so that when you give birth, your partner can massage the expectant mother to 1) make her feel more comfortable and 2) give the expectant father a role in the birthing process.

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A couple practicing profylax

Side note: I heard from people who took the profylax course that the course had good information, brought the couple closer together (in that they were now both focused on the pregnancy and the importance of giving birth), but that it wasn’t necessarily worth the money. (Sadly I can’t remember how much it costs, maybe 2000 SEK? or thereabouts).

Partners’ Role

The partners’ role was quite basic–be there for the expectant mother. There was little discussed in the way that expectant fathers are important and that they have a right to be at the birth; let alone, what the experience of being there means for the father, for the couple, and for the family. Father’s (partners) were discussed, but mainly in terms of taking care of the expectant mother, and mainly via making her feel comfortable (destressing her in various ways, especially via massages).

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At the end of the meeting, I approached the midwife to go over the highlights from the night (just to make sure I understood everything–after all, I knew Lisa would be asking). After going through the key material, she also handed me an extra book on having a baby (in English)…just to make sure I understood everything that was in the seminar.

Second Prenatal Parent Group Meeting: Relationships

Unli2000px-Svenska_kyrkan_vapen.svgke the first prenatal parent group meeting, not everyone showed up. Two couples did not come: expectant mom/dad who live in Uppsala and an expectant mom/grandma who live in Upplands Väsby.

This second meeting was not led by the midwife, but rather by two people from the Swedish church.

Their topic of the day: Relationships.

They talked a bit about the importance of maintaining a healthy relationship (surface level information): life is tough, having a baby complicates the relationship, make time for each other, support each other, etc.

They then kept the meeting quite interactive, either in small groups, as a large group, or with your partner.

We then broke up into groups, purposefully separated from our partners. In these groups we were to discuss what we need to have a strong loving relationship.

Expectant parents discussed typical things like supporting each other, listening to each other, discussing financial issues, and help each other feel good (see complete list [in Swedish] below).

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After this, we broke for fika. During fika, several expectant parents joked and commented that we were receiving relationship advice from two members of the Swedish church. Apparently, being connected to the Swedish church, at least as far as relationships is concerned, isn’t so highly respected.

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When class started back up, we played a game: To what extent do you agree with the following financial statement:

  • I charge all of my items on a credit card.
  • I just want to have new products for the baby.
  • I like to save as much money as possible.
  • I want to buy used baby products.

If you completely agreed, we were to walk to a woman and if we disagreed, we were to walk to a man (or end up somewhere in between). This would then inform us where we stood, especially relative to our partners. After talking with a few couples (and my own relationship)–no one seemed surprised about where they and their partner ended up. In other words, we all seemed to at least know the spending habits of our partners.

We then met one-on-one with our partners to discuss three things that we think will make our partner a great parent.

The night finished up with some communication tips:

  • “I statements” were emphasized
    • I feel; I need
  • Remember to take a step back before having a big discussion
  • Talk with each other when you start having feelings about something

Then just to be cheeky, I wrote”make-up sex”.

Turns out the leaders actually liked this (or it was coincidence), because then they went into a 10 minute diatribe about the importance of maintaining a healthy sex life and to talk with each other about your sexual feelings.

We then wrote down on a piece of paper things that turn us on–and we were to discuss that with our partners once we went home.

Lacking Couple Relationships within the Context of Parenting
The information covered was fine and fun, but had little to do with becoming a parent. I felt like the leaders could have tailored the meeting better to talk about relationships pre- and post-children: what to expect, and how to deal with problems while raising a child.

For example, how not to fight in front of the child, how the baby alters relationship roles, how conflicts can intensify when new parents are stressed and lacking sleep, how conversations become duller because of exhaustion from parenting, etc.

Oh well–you get what you pay for (#free).

 

 

A Discussion on Fatherhood with Swedish Child Health Professionals

Starting in 2012, a conference is organized once a semester for those child health professionals in Stockholm working in the prenatal clinics, child health centers, preschools, and social services with children (aged 0-6) and their families.

The conference was organized by Åsa Heimer and Catharina Neovius.

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A large hotel where the conference was held in Rinkeby-Kista.

In March of 2015, the conference topic was on the importance of fathers. Mats Berggren from Män för Jämställdhet (Men for Gender Equality) and myself would be giving the main lectures for the day. 

Those in attendance are all Swedish-speaking (while I’m not so much), and they mainly work with non-native Swedish families (around 80% of their families are not originally from Sweden), with many of them working in the Rinkeby-Kista area (Stockholm).

I didn’t see a huge difference in how these professionals should treat fathers, based on their country of origin (except to note that some fathers would be less involved and feel like they should be less involved in childrearing compared to Swedish fathers). However, since the Swedish child health field typically doesn’t involve fathers via providing them with support (at least not to the same extent as mothers), I felt like the advice could be more general and simple:

                   Treat mothers and fathers similarly, by giving                                                    them each the individual support that they require.

So I made both an English version (not presented) and a Swedish version (presented).

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Click on the picture to see the English presentation.
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Click on the picture to see the Swedish presentation

The audience, however, was much larger than I expected. There were maybe 100+ professionals eagerly listening. In addition, they didn’t want to hear research, but rather more practical advice on how and why to interact and involve fathers–so that’s what I tried to gear my talk towards.

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Having worked in Quality Assurance in Head Start for three years, you come to quickly realize that no one likes their jobs being critiqued. So I was super-glad when several audience members spoke up acknowledging the problems they face, watching professionals take notes, and having all of my printed copies of the powerpoint snatched up.

I then received a wonder gift package for presenting 🙂

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My only regret was not approaching these professionals individually and in small groups afterwards to get their feedback–after all, I’m not lecturing to hear myself, but because I believe that behavior changes are important, but difficult and that we all need to work together to make the important changes that we desire.

Invited Conference Presentation at SUDA: The Swedish Ploy of Promoting Equal Parenting

At the end of October 2015, I had the opportunity to present some of my research at Stockholm University Demography Unit‘s (SUDA) colloquium.

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I have neverleader5466 been invited to or involved in a colloquium like this; although now I understand what the term “conference paper” means. So I came a few weeks early to 1) see how a colloquium operates and 2) to meet a research rockstar, Dr. Linda Haas (this proved extra fruitful, because she let me discuss my research with her, as well as interview her about fatherhood in Sweden. In other words, take the opportunities to meet your research heroes–the just may turn out to be as nice and great as you’d expect).

While many research groups hold monthly seminars/presentations, a colloquium like at SUDA asks participants to share a copy of their manuscript, as well as to provide a presentation.

This involves work!

Most of the time, I create a presentation a couple of days before the actual talk. Now I need to send an entire manuscript at least one week ahead of my scheduled talk, to allow researchers time to read and critique my work.

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On one hand, this is a bit daunting, because you want to write well (so as not to embarrass yourself on a given topic), while also not coming so far in the publication timeline, that comments will be unhelpful (e.g. if the manuscript has already been submitted, or worse, accepted).

So I picked a topic I had thought about, but hadn’t yet written about. Plus, this would motivate me to take time out of the summer to focus on this manuscript.

I gave a presentation entitled: The Swedish Ploy of Promoting Equal Parenting: Paradoxes in Policy Implementation Regarding Paternal Involvement in Childcare

*Clearly, I enjoy a good alliteration.

Since this is still a work in progress, I won’t upload the manuscript, but in the presentation I discussed the ways in which fathers are told via society to be good fathers, while at the same time, highlighting the various paradoxes of how organizations hold fathers back.

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Click on the picture to see the presentation.

I pay specific attention to the Swedish child health field, workplaces, and maternal gatekeeping, as well as to policy barriers, especially the Swedish parental leave act.

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Unlike other seminar series that I’ve attended, I was the only speaker. So after my presentation (about 20 minutes), I then had 40 minutes of questioning from the audience.

This was fabulous, as long as I remembered to accept their comments, rather than being defensive (I always feel I have to defend my baby). Hearing the comments though was great–not because I had persuaded all of the audience (far from it), but because they gave me new directions to go down, topics to clip out, and insights to make certain arguments stronger.

I was not only impressed from the level of audience participation (especially from advice from Dr. Ann-Zofie Duvander), but of SUDA’s entire colloquium; where they are always bringing in new researchers, often from various parts of the world. This not only allows researchers to share their latest findings, but also allows those working at SUDA a chance to hear from and critique many different types of researchers.

I strongly recommend participating in and hosting your own colloquiums!