New fathers feel unsupported by NHS

27 March 2005

New dads often feel ill-informed and unsupported by health professionals, despite wanting to be involved, according to Britain’s largest-ever survey of new fathers.

Launching the study of over 800 men, the National Childbirth Trust and Fathers Direct called for dads to be given time off for a minimum of three ante-natal appointments, the chance to stay overnight in hospital after the birth and better information for new dads.

The three-year study, Becoming A Father, urged ante-natal clinics to be more father-friendly, with leaflets and posters aimed at men. It suggested more flexible hours for health professionals so that the majority of fathers who do not attend ante-natal classes can take part outside normal working hours.

A third of new dads felt inadequately informed on vital issues, notably about mood swings in pregnancy, what to expect in labour, post-natal depression, coping with the baby’s crying, bathing the baby, the impact on the couple’s relationship, breast-feeding and bottle-feeding.

Since publication, Fathers Direct has worked with the RCM and other health professionals to develop new ways of delivering information to dads, taking advantage of paternity leave.

Becoming A Father by Debbie Singh and Mary Newburn, NCT Maternity Sales Ltd, 239 Shawbridge St, Glasgow G43 1QN, £11 inc p&p.