the Reaching Out guide
A publication was recently launched with the intention of encouraging dads involvement in maternity.
A new guide, called "Reaching Out : Involving Fathers in Maternity Care" and published jointly by the Royal College of Midwives, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Department of Health and the Fatherhood Institute was launched on the 15th November. The 16 page document sets out to encourage maternity care providers to actively seek to engage and involve dads in their partners maternity care, thus laying the foundations for a more positive and supportive start to parenting and family life.
One of dadzclub's resident midwifes, Lorraine Berry gives her take on it.
Commenting on the guide, Cathy Warwick RCM Chief Executive stated "There is now substantial evidence of the benefits resulting from fathers being involved in their partner's maternity care. Most women want their partners to be involved in their pregnancy. Midwives play a vital role in engaging with men during the antenatal care, labour and birth and postnatal period"
It is hoped that the guide will encourage maternity units to revisit at their current maternity provision and reassess how well it engages and meets the needs of expectant fathers, as well as mothers to be. One area that can be assessed is when antenatal classes are being held, and what content they cover. Ensuring they are held at weekends or evenings, instead of the middle of a weekday, can make it easier for working dads to come along too. A maternity unit at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire NHS Trust, for example, even schedules classes to avoid clashes with football fixtures.
I am optimistic that the guide will have a positive impact not only on dads involvement during pregnancy, but also on how dads are supported emotionally throughout pregnancy and beyond.
I know that as a profession we are ideally placed to support both parents throughout pregnancy and birth, as well as during the often forgotten, but equally important, postnatal period. Adaptation to parenthood can be just as stressful for men as it is for women, with some more vulnerable dads being just as susceptible to postnatal depression as their female counterparts. Being involved fully with the maternity services throughout the pregnancy will hopefully see men feeling and being more supported in adapting to their new role as parent, as well as potentially identifying those who need additional support earlier on.
It will be interesting to see what novel ways maternity units come up with to engage men more fully and prevent the feelings of exclusion (one suggestion was to ensure mens interest mags were available whilst waiting for antenatal appointments. Personally, I can't see that just putting out a few old copies of FHM is going to be enough on its own to encourage men to rush along to their partners appointments! Maybe I'm wrong, but think it will take a bit more thought than that to show men they are welcome!) How maternity units identify, address and meet the differing needs and expectations of fathers to be will certainly be a challenge for some.
So how can Midwives and Maternity services make ourselves more accessible and more approachable to dads? What would you like to see us doing to help you feel and be more involved?
BSc (Hons) Registered Midwife
For Calm, Confident and Relaxed Birth Experiences
PLEASE LEAVE YOUR COMMENTS BELOW