Dialling in to dads' needs – free service for new fathers

Expert advice and reassurance is just a text message away for Ipswich dads-to-be preparing to navigate one of life’s great adventures – parenthood.

SMS4dads is a free mobile phone service that provides tips and advice to help dads connect with their babies and understand how they can best support their partner during pregnancy and after the birth.

It is an initiative of The University of Newcastle Australia and funded by Mission Australia to provide free mobile support exclusively to Ipswich residents as part of a trial until July 2019.

West Moreton Health is the only health service in the state to promote the service to local fathers as part of its work to help deliver better health outcomes for West Moreton families.

Family Action Centre senior researcher Dr Chris May, of The University of Newcastle, said the program aimed to fill a gap.

“There is so much information out there for mums but so little specifically for dads, yet dads are very much part of the business of raising children,’’ Dr May said.

“We want to help men feel more engaged and involved and help them to support their partner and look after themselves; during pregnancy and after the birth.”

West Moreton Health’s Women, Children and Family Divisional Director Lyn Barrett said SMS4dads was a great tool for engaging directly with fathers.

“We really encourage men to be involved in all stages of the antenatal and birthing experience, they are most welcome at all appointments. But because of time and work commitments it is not uncommon for some dads to miss out on directly hearing some of the important advice that our midwives share with expectant parents during antenatal appointments,” Ms Barrett said.

“Parenting is not just women’s business and we want to ensure men are equally engaged and have the chance to ask questions and prepare for what is a life-changing event.

“The great thing about SMS4dads is that it delivers really practical, timely advice straight to a man’s hip pocket – all they need is a mobile phone.’’

Men who sign up to the free SMS4dads service are asked to provide their baby’s due date so that any information provided to expectant dads is timed to match what they may be experiencing at that time.

Dads will receive regular text messages with tips, info and links to relevant services.

“We also send dads regular ‘how’s it going?’ texts and ask them to simply click on the most relevant response. Any men who respond ‘bad’ are asked if they would like a call back from someone to provide extra support,” Dr May said.

“As well as supporting their partner it is equally important for men to take care of their own health and wellbeing so they are in the best possible mental and physical shape to form a strong relationship with their child and embrace fatherhood.’’

For more information visit SMS4dads

Dads play key role in parenthood preparation

The birth of a child is not just women’s business.

West Moreton Health’s Women, Children and Family, Nursing and Midwifery Director Lyn Barrett said dads were encouraged to share the parenting journey by being involved in every step of the experience, from antenatal care to labour, nappy-changing duties and play time.

“Preparing for the arrival of a new baby is an incredible, life-changing experiencing and there is a lot of information and help available to parents as they navigate this exciting and sometimes daunting time,’’ Ms Barrett said.

“It is a special time not just for women, but fathers too and we want West Moreton dads to know they are welcome to be involved in antenatal appointments as well as baby’s delivery so they feel included and prepared for their baby’s arrival.”

Ipswich Hospital encourages fathers to attend regular antenatal appointments during a woman’s pregnancy wherever possible while antenatal classes are designed jointly for couples to learn more about what they can expect during labour, delivery and post-birth.

“At Ipswich Hospital we have a great uptake in the number of men who attend antenatal classes alongside their partner in the lead up to the birth.

“The classes, which are held after-hours and on weekends for the convenience of couples, provide expectant parents with information about labour, caesarean births, breast feeding, healthy diets as well as practical information about parenting, everything from bathing the baby and changing nappies to play time and ways to bond with their child.”

Ms Barrett said West Moreton Health also implemented key changes in 2017 to allow partners to stay overnight at Ipswich Hospital when a woman was induced for labour to ensure partners could be involved and participate in the pre-delivery.

“We find the more engaged fathers are in appointments the more they feel confident and prepared for their parenting role and how to best support their partner and child.’’

“After the birth men are also welcome to attend child health clinic appointments to better understand their child’s growth and development.

“There are no silly questions and we are here to offer guidance and reassurance to both mum and dads so don’t be shy.”

For more information contact the Antenatal Clinic on 3810 1310 or Child Health Clinic on 3817 2340.