All the changes after the birth can also be hard to manage. This is a time when dads are usually very busy and they may not have support available.
When stress builds up dads may not know where to go or who to ask. There’s lots of information available online and on social media but how can you be sure you’re getting accurate and trustworthy advice?
SMS4dads research has found there’s not a lot out there that speaks directly to dads. Most family and parenting services are aimed at mums, and they don’t engage directly with dads or provide specific materials and resources for them.
SMS4dads supports men in their role as fathers and increases awareness of their influence on baby’s brain development.
SMS4dads provides new fathers with information and connections to online services through their mobile phones.
Once enrolled Dads receive text messages with tips, information and links to other services to help them understand and connect with their baby and support their partner. The messages are brief and some have links to more info.
When enrolling, Dads enter the expected date of delivery or bub’s birth date so the texts are linked to the developmental stage of the baby. Some messages provide tips and encouragement. Others are health related with information related to looking after their baby or about being mindful of their own health and ways to support their partner.
Dads who join up receive three messages a week. Checking in with dads is also an important part of the program. A set of MoodTracker interactive texts are interwoven within the messages to find out how dads are coping. If a dad says he’s not doing so well and doesn’t have anyone to talk to, a health professional from a relevant service makes contact to check in and see if he would like some support.
Some of the text messages use the ‘voice’ of the baby to help dads gets a sense of connection. For example,
“So dad, I pass a lot of wind. Well – I’m growing fast and I have to eat a lot so my gut is very busy. What’s your excuse?”
“Although it’s noisy in here, I will be able to hear your voice from about 20 weeks. Try telling me about the things we will do together.”
“If you’re both up for it, then there’s usually no problem with having during pregnancy. It will not harm the baby. Visit this LINK for more info.”
Finally, we know from research that mums play a significant role and influence whether dads join up. If you’re a mum and you think your partner might find SMS4dads a helpful source of info and support, you can encourage him to sign up.
As one mum said: “It helped my partner to feel part of the ‘baby process,’ and that his experiences were also important. The messages gave us both more confidence and helped to avoid fights when extreme fatigue set in.”
SMS4dads is free. It provides info for dads – when they need it, where they need it
Check out www.SMS4dads.com.au for more information and to sign up.
Playgroups are a great place for parents and caregivers to connect with others in their community and are not just for mums – if you’re interested in joining a playgroup or starting a dad’s only group, contact Playgroup WA at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out the benefits of playgroup here.