Becoming Dad

20 October 2021

Becoming Dad is our new guide for expectant and new fathers, launched in November 2021 by the Fatherhood Institute and Mental Health Foundation.

There is a real lack of well-written, evidence-based information designed specifically to help men navigate their personal journeys into fatherhood. This matters not just for the men themselves, but for the women who love them, and the babies they will father.

And it matters now more than ever, since men have had little or no access to maternity services during the Covid-19 pandemic – as highlighted by our Dads Shut Out report (published for International Men’s Day, 19 November 2021).

Becoming Dad is a guide we have created to fill the gap – helping men make sense of what’s happening to them; look after themselves and the others around them; and do the best possible job of becoming a confident father.

What’s in the guide

Here’s a summary of what the guide covers:

Chapter 1 The science of ‘becoming Dad’

Many centuries of evolution lie behind what you’re experiencing today as a soon-to-be-father. What can science tell us about what children need from fathers, and how fatherhood changes us as men?

Chapter 2 Looking after yourself

It’s a cliché, but true: how can you look after somebody else if you don’t know how to look after yourself? This chapter is all about opening up to your inner self, being honest about your feelings around fatherhood, and finding ways to stay calm and focused on the things that matter during what can be an exciting and stressful time.

Chapter 3 Supporting mum

Whatever the nature of your relationship with this woman – romantic or otherwise – she will be the mother of your child, and she’s going through some serious stuff right now. Here we focus on what’s happening for her, and what you as a dad can do to help her on her journey.

Chapter 4 Looking after your relationship

The perinatal period is a minefield for couple relationships – it can make or break them. In this chapter we focus on what the key challenges are, and offer practical tips on how to maintain or even improve your relationship. We also look at what you can do if it’s all going wrong.

Chapter 5 Getting to know your baby

Men can find it hard to ‘engage’ with the baby in the womb, and even once it is born. Here we look at simple ways to connect with your infant, build a strong bond and enjoy your time together.

Chapter 6 Juggling work and home

Family, friends, wider society – and we ourselves – can put a lot of pressure on dads to be ‘the provider’. Here we look at how to navigate this aspect of your paternal identity, providing practical tips for making the most of the time you have with your baby, and for creating a work/life balance that allows you to be an involved father.

Chapter 7 What to do if you’re struggling

Early fatherhood can be tiring and stressful. Most dads muddle through it, but some find it really difficult to cope. This chapter is all about how to spot problems before they get too serious, and where to go to for help.

Join the Fatherhood Institute network to receive a free PDF of Becoming Dad.

Go further

If you’re a professional working with families in the perinatal period – a midwife, health visitor, GP or early years practitioner, perhaps – you may want to share Becoming Dad with the fathers you work with.

You can join the Fatherhood Institute network to receive a free PDF of Becoming Dad – or share this link with fathers and other family members you work with.

But why stop there? Here at the Fatherhood Institute our trainers can work with you to help make your father-engagement more systematic and impactful. Our courses help you engage more effectively, and provide high quality support to men as they work out how to become the best dad they can be.

Here’s a brief description of our courses for practitioners:

Becoming Dad – Perinatal peer-support sessions for expectant and new fathers

Our Becoming Dad perinatal peer-support sessions offer small groups of expectant fathers the opportunity to learn caregiving skills, and navigate the practical and emotional challenges of early fatherhood – supported by other men who have recently become dads.

Working alongside these recent new fathers and trained facilitators, the expectant dads progress through a wide-ranging curriculum designed to build their confidence around hands-on babycare (e.g., nappy-changing, bathing and baby-handling); health and safety (e.g. danger signs to look out for, safe sleeping and shaken baby syndrome); bonding and attachment; and mental health (their own and their partner’s).

Based on the well evidenced Hit the Ground Crawling course, this updated intervention draws on the Becoming Dad guide and our Nuffield Foundation-funded reports on contemporary fatherhood. It works because it is a ‘one-stop shop’ intervention for expectant fathers, delivered over three hours (either one block or two sessions), where the men can get crucial and timely information and support without signing up to a long commitment.

This course requires two facilitators: we will train you to recruit and promote directly to

fathers and deliver the course as a peer-led group. Becoming Dad can be delivered through maternity services, early years and voluntary sectors.  

Supporting Fathers in the Perinatal Period

The transition to parenthood has been called ’the golden moment‘ to engage fathers, and this unique, evidence-based training course provides participants with knowledge and strategies to embed change in their agency and in their own practice. Exploring expectant and new fathers’ impact on mothers and babies, and the impact of fatherhood on men themselves, the course addresses the challenges and rewards new parents face in relation to health behaviours, work-life balance, couple conflict, perinatal mental health, hormonal shifts, breastfeeding, fathers at the birth and the early formation of family. This course is suitable for anyone working in family and children’s services, including; midwives, health visitors, managers, students on placements, family support and outreach.

Father-Inclusive Health Visiting Services

This popular course, first piloted through the Burdett Trust and evaluated by Institute of Health & Society, University of Worcester, supports staff to explore and develop strategies to engage with new fathers, develop the confidence, knowledge and skills to work effectively with them, and discover a ‘whole team’ approach to supporting the whole family. The course includes exploration of fathers’ unique influences on infant feeding and brain development; and on infants’ and new mothers’ mental health. Health visitors are equipped to talk to families about what babies need from their fathers; how new parents can support each other; and the sometimes less-than-helpful beliefs about gender roles and gendered capabilities that surround us. This course is suitable for anyone working in health visiting services.

What New Dads Need to Know (and How We Might Support Them)

Building on many years’ innovation and collaboration, we have developed a framework setting out what information new fathers need, and when they need it. Using this, we will help you define the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of your messaging to fathers, including around their own and their partner’s mental and physical health, couple and family relationships and baby and child development. This new course is highly recommended for anyone working with families in the perinatal period, including practitioners and heads of services and communications.

Find out more by downloading our 2021/22 Training Brochure or contact our Head of Training, Jeszemma Garratt at j.garratt@fatherhoodinstitute.org, tel 0791 786 4130.

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