The Dad Deficit: The Missing Piece of the Maternity Jigsaw

13 April 2008

In this report the Fatherhood Institute presents a mass of evidence proving the profound extra benefits to child and parents of fathers’ active and positive involvement from birth.

While the vast majority of fathers are interested in fulfilling their responsibilities they often get no encouragement or support – particularly if they are young or otherwise disadvantaged. At the same time, the small minority who aren’t interested are not challenged, and are simply allowed to drift away from their obligations.

The Dad Deficit is based on research involving maternity professionals and mothers and fathers over the whole period before, during and after a birth. It highlights research which reveals that:

• Educating fathers as well as mothers on how to achieve a healthy pregnancy is likely to achieve the greatest positive impact on family health.

• Maternity services aimed at dads are discretionary and are not systematically engaging with them.

• 70% of men and women agree that dads should be able to stay overnight in hospital with their partner when their baby is born.

• 45,000 men in the UK don’t sign the birth certificate when their child is born (equivalent to 7% of all births – and double the rate in Australia) and a simple change in the questions asked of parents at birth registration is likely to reduce this statistic substantially.

While 86% of fathers now attend the birth of their child, the report also shows that many still feel excluded at the birth and can be literally shut out when visiting time is over.

The Dad Deficit calls for a total of 12 key changes to involve fathers more fully and so improve the overall health of the family. These include: registration of fathers by maternity services; NHS guidance on father-inclusion; information for fathers explaining their role in smoking, breastfeeding, alcohol, mental health and baby health, dealing with relationship stress and conflict and the impact of violence in the family.

To download the report, right click on the title (below), choose ‘Save Target As . . .’ and the pdf should download quickly.

The Dad Deficit: The Missing Piece of the Maternity Jigsaw