Case Study (Young Fathers/Maternity Services): Specialist Midwives Engage with Young Mums and Dads
Jackie Hughes and Fiona Blackwell are two specialist midwives for young parents, employed by Stockport NHS Foundation Trust. Their work with young dads centres on monthly ‘active birth workshops’, held on Saturdays at Stockport’s Stepping Hill Hospital.
Offering dads their own space
The workshops are designed to provide young mums and dads with space to discuss issues around pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting, and to learn about and plan for labour and birth. As part of the session, time is allocated specifically for the dads to chat informally with a midwife about their feelings as a prospective father, and their experiences of maternity services.
They are given a package of information about various aspects of being a father – at the moment the midwives use resources produced by Working with Men to facilitate discussion with the dads, although they may also use the handouts supplied with Invisible Fathers, now they are available.
‘We find that if we provide targeted information to the dads they lap it up,’ says Ms Hughes. ‘They seem quite happy with the way the maternity service deals with them, but they talk more generally about feeling left out. Especially if they’re non-resident dads, there’s a real issue about them not having anywhere to go with their babies.’
Currently 9 young dads and 9 young mums attend, and word is spreading to others. Ms Hughes says the group is ‘going from strength to strength’. She stresses that if you advertise the classes to dads, and if they can see that you specifically value them and their contribution, they will come.
However one issue is that the young parents often split up early and up to now the group has only attracted those in couples. Ms Hughes hopes that more word-of-mouth advertising and more multi-agency working will help attract separated young fathers too: ‘There are lots of problems for these young dads, they seem to struggle to find places to go with their babies when they’ve got them – and sometimes youth services don’t want young men around because they perceive them as a risk.’
A case study about this project first appeared on the Trust for the Study of Adolescence’s Supporting Young Fathers microsite.
Tel Jackie Hughes: 07876 230 822Early years, Maternity, Parenting education, Vulnerable families, Young fathers