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Welcome for Dads' Guide

Friday January 22nd, 2010

Parent and midwife groups welcomed plans, published yesterday, to boost support for families, including an official guide for fathers.

The British government said it would be producing the "Dads Guide" as part of helping fathers get more involved in the birth and up-bringing of children.

Midwives and other professionals may also get guidance on how to involve fathers.

The National Childbirth Trust welcomed the proposals - but called for more radical policies to involve fathers in family life.

The government says it wants to improve flexible working opportunities for parents.

It will also give new rights to grandparents - setting up an official website.

There would also be a review of the way courts deal with family conflicts - and "immediate steps" to encourage warring parents to use mediation.

However the proposals are contained in a Green Paper - meaning they are out for consultation and would almost certainly depend on the result of the coming General Election.

The Royal College of Midwives said it backed proposals to produce professional guidance for its members on how to involve fathers at the time of childbirth.

General secretary Cathy Warwick said: "Becoming a father can be an exhilarating and profound experience and it is vital, therefore, that new dads feel they are encouraged to become involved with their babies and remain involved thereafter.

"Engaging with fathers can have a significant and beneficial effect on children's outcomes and its message should be embedded within the culture of midwifery and built into the education of midwives."

Elizabeth Duff, of the National Childbirth Trust, said that more than a quarter of the parents it supported were fathers.

She said: "Becoming a father for the first time is a major life event for men. The birth of a baby changes relationships in the family, brings new responsibilities and rewards, and often has a major economic impact.

"It can be a time of joy, celebration and pride but equally it can be a time of stress, anxiety and upheaval."

She added: "Research shows clearly that fathers have a central role to play in family life and child development. Services should engage new dads as soon as the pregnancy is confirmed and encourage them to learn about the stages of development as the baby is growing, and how they can be of support during the labour and birth.

"Then they can be involved in care of the new baby, including comforting and soothing, skin to skin contact, bathing and nappy changing.

"Fathers need information that is relevant to how their baby is being fed, including the key role they can play in supporting breastfeeding. Research shows that fathers' views can influence whether a mother starts to breastfeed and mums will continue to breastfed for longer if they have the support of their partner."

Tags: Child Health | Childbirth and Pregnancy | Geriatric Health | Menís Health | UK News | Womenís Health & Gynaecology

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