Thinking Differently Together - First 1,000 Days Of Life

Transforming Families (Family Support) • EPIC Dad Fun Club (dads and children’s club) • EPIC Dad Family Time (events for all the family) • EPIC Dad Deliveries (Delivery of baby supplies and family games) Research findings from the Fatherhood Institute show some of the impacts on fathers of being shut out from maternity services during pandemic restrictions: • Over 80% of expectant fathers were excluded from antenatal appointments, scans, and classes, and from early parts of labour. • 24% of professionals reported that mothers’ and/or babies’ health put at extra risk. • 49% of dads were excluded from postnatal wards. • 67% of dads felt unprepared due to the restrictions. • 84% of mums received less support from their partners than they would have liked: “I was left alone during labour and I honestly was not thinking about the midwives and how to call them to the ward where I was because I was in so much pain from the contractions, my only goal was to get over the pain without losing it. My partner would’ve been my best advocate in those moments.” The research concluded that men need better support to prepare for fatherhood and help their partners. A dad bonding with their baby matters for a range of reasons. Firstly, for the baby, creating a calm and positive environment is integral to the physiological development of the unborn baby. Their role in creating a calm, stable, home environment is important, from the time of pregnancy. Secondly, for the dad’s confidence, the more connected a dad feels to their baby during pregnancy, the more they will be comfortable and at ease with their new-born when they arrive. The baby will also sense this inner-confidence, and feel more secure and safe with the dad too as a result. Thirdly, for the mum, showing an interest in their baby and the pregnancy will help the dad be closer to their partner, as she will feel supported and that the dad values both her and the baby. Finally, fathers can suffer too from postnatal depression (PND), and antenatal bonding can also help reduce the chances of PND. A common cause for PND in men is that they feel guilt when they don’t instantly feel bonded with their baby. It is harder for that bond to establish with all the additional pressures of becoming a family, so dads should be encouraged to find ways to start bonding with their baby during pregnancy. Research has indicated that men who feel unready for fatherhood tend to be less involved, find the transition to parenthood more challenging, and may be less likely to be committed fathers. Women place a high value on their partner’s presence and support in labour, leading to reduced anxiety, less perceived pain, greater satisfaction with the birth experience, lower rates of postnatal depression and improved outcomes in the child. We can encourage dads’ Involvement by speaking directly to them, and by giving them space to ask questions. We should provide helpful information and resources, and signpost them to other support available. We should encourage them in their fatherhood role, let them know how valued they are, and how they can be actively involved throughout pregnancy, childbirth and afterwards. Richard asked that the health and care system explores further ways to support dads. Fatherhood matters, by including dads it can make a world of difference to them and their families. Some further resources: 21 | Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care System