Becoming a parent is a whirlwind experience, especially for new fathers. A trial program is being piloted across the state to help support expectant fathers get through the trials of the initial stages of fatherhood. The Focus on New Fathers project is being piloted for free in Murrumbidgee Local Health District and NSW Health invites all new dads in Griffith to sign up and take advantage.
The text message based service developed by NSW Health in partnership with University of Newcastle, will send three text messages a week to registered fathers. Texts will contain practical tips, information and links to help fathers understand and connect with their baby and support their partner.
Research found that minimal support services exist that specifically target a father's experience during their partner's pregnancy and the new born phase of their child's life, leaving many dads feeling left out and at high risk of suffering antenatal and postnatal depression.
Focus on New Fathers program co-ordinator Melissa Smead said that research has discovered that dads have been overlooked as to the support they need during this time as the focus for childbirth and newborns is aimed almost exclusively at mothers.
"We have realised that new dads are missing out and not being included where they might want to be included so this free program offers to help dads feel supported," Mrs Smead said.
"It's a bit scary when you see that there is not much out there for new dads."
Father of five and ambassador of the program Kevin Poulton says that sometimes dads can feel 'obsolete' during the final stages of birth and pregnancy, so any help for how to get through is welcome.
"Any help you can get as a father is great, we are pretty useless first time around, but even after you have had five like me, this service would be very useful to helping to give prompts and reminders that you still play an important role in your child's life," Mr Poulton said.
To sign up is simple, head to the SMS 4 Dads website and register for free to get started.