A charity is helping dads bond with their babies right from the start by building their confidence and hands-on skills at, free to attend, dads only antenatal groups at the New Victoria Hospital on the Southside of Glasgow.
The sessions, run by Home-Start Glasgow South, help dads understand their vital role in supporting their partners and establishing strong and healthy bonds with their baby.
The friendly groups help fathers feel able to discuss concerns and worries while raising their awareness of support services for the whole family should they need them.
Local dad Kenny Taylor attended a group before the birth of his first child: “I felt far more involved and valued in the planning and birth because the class helped me to see how important my role is. Without this chance to talk and meet other dads, I wouldn’t have known how much I could do with my newborn baby and how much I could do to support my partner. It was a great environment to be able to ask questions and not feel stupid.
“For example, we ended up having a theatre birth and I was a lot less worried than I would have been because we’d heard about how many people would be involved if this happened and how it all worked. Because of the antenatal class I undoubtedly feel so much closer to my son Scout.”
Research is telling us more about how lifelong wellbeing – from attainment in school to mental and physical health in adulthood – is maximised when babies have quality interactions with adults who spend calm, loving and playful time with them.
At the same time we are learning that post-natal depression which affects 1 in 6 mums and 1 in 10 dads can, in part, be addressed with effective birth education for both mum and dad.
Women with supportive partners, meaning those who share practical tasks such as nappy changing and bathing their baby, are less likely to report postnatal depression and other birth related problems.
Evelyn Frame, chief midwife, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said: “It’s important that men feel comfortable engaging in conversations they may otherwise not get the chance to have. These flexible classes enable the expectant dads to set the agenda to meet their needs and have their specific questions answered.
“The great thing about these workshops is that they encourage dads to be more involved and to communicate better as parents and partners.”
Over 70 men have registered to attend classes since December 2018 and Home-Start Glasgow South have worked closely with NHS Maternity Services to create this unique resource for Glasgow. Very few other organisations offer this support and Home-Starts in Scotland would like to be able to offer these pre-birth confidence and knowledge-boosting sessions to many more dads.
Shelagh Young, Director of Home-Start UK in Scotland, said: “With over 55,000 babies born in Scotland every year we’ve got our work cut out to reach all the dads-to-be who could benefit, in part because it can be very difficult to secure any funding. But because helping dads bond with their babies is building better futures for children we really want to find ways of building on Home-Start Glasgow South’s excellent work in other parts of Scotland.”