Case study: North Yorkshire Midwives Engaging with Young Dads
“A young father’s behaviour and attitudes have a strong influence on the health of the young mother and the baby (DFCSF/DOH2009)”
Even in the early stages of what was originally known as the Mums 2 B programme (now ‘YorBabe’), dads were always included and invited to attend the course with their partners. Being a father-inclusive programme was always in the ethos of what our service considered to be Best Practice; and Government policies are clear about the need for services for children and their families to be father-inclusive.
What did become apparent however was that the number of young dads attending was relatively low and sporadic. We believed this was due to (a) the timings of the sessions, bearing in mind that some dads were in education, training or work; and (b) the name of the programme was not father inclusive.
We do know that children benefit enormously from having a strong relationship with their fathers and that there is a need for us, as public sector services, to engage with fathers. So with this in mind, we developed a Young Dads’ Evening.
The Young Dads’ Evening is run for two hours three times a year. It is jointly facilitated by Selby Area Children’s Centre and York Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. The current sessions are facilitated by Midwives, male Health Visitors, male and female Connexion workers, a Parent Support Advisor and of course, our new dads who act as peer supporters. The sessions are run at York Hospital, 7-9 pm, with transport and refreshments provided. The young dads have the opportunity to look round the labour ward and use peer support dads to answer any concerns or queries they might have about labour and the birth. This is so important as dads often don’t feel able to ask questions in front of their partners; and to get a male insight into the physical and emotional/supportive aspects of labour and birth can help contribute to a more positive and fulfilling experience. During the last Young Dads’ Evening, we also asked a dad to bath his baby, which proved very positive and provoked lots of questions (this time the girls felt left out in the room next door and were eager to be involved, much to the delight of the dads!)
The girls are invited to the Dads’ Evening session, as we found that without them, the dads were reluctant to come along. However, they are all fore-warned that on arrival, the girls will go off into another room next door to chat and do activities while we concentrate on our dad’s programme. Our first session was held in February 2009 and 3 young dads attended. With our last session attracting 9 young dads, progress is clearly being made.
We do realise that this provision is inadequate and are at present applying for funding via grants so that we can increase the sessions to two nights three times a year. This is so that more time can be spent on topics such as Breastfeeding, more opportunity for discussions about issues related to birth/postnatal period including Postnatal Depression /homelife/relationships and more specific issues such as babies going to the Special Care Baby Unit.
Why we think it works
- We try to make the environment friendly and inviting
- The timings of the sessions are more appropriate as they are in the evening
- We have a multi-agency approach
- Partners are welcome, which encourages attendance, as the girls are familiar with staff due to attendance at Yorbabe/Yorbabe Selby
- Our service is non-judgemental and supportive
- Our facilitators are approachable and caring
Lastly – we recognise the importance of including expectant dads within the rest of the care we provide, and are making serious efforts to invite them in and include them: we know that almost all of these young men really do want to be involved and learn how to support their partner.
Midwife at Selby Area Children’s Centre
Midwife at York NHS Trust Foundation Hospital