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Father friendly baby care courses?

(25 Posts)
Dudad Thu 15-Sep-11 11:12:57


I reposted this from the parenting forum as there seems to be a lot more traffic here and I haven't got any answers there sad

I wanted to pick the collective MN brain and canvas some opinions.

I'm due to become a dad in the early part of next year. I'm extremely excited and happy about this and am keen to prepare as well as I can to best support my partner and my child.

Having recently done some browsing on the fatherhood institute web site ( I read an article on what makes a good dad. One of the points was that fathers who have participated in baby-care courses take on more (and better) care of their babies than fathers who have not.

Seems fairly obvious, so off I go to the internet to find out about baby care courses, and am surprised that there really don't seem to be that many that actively encourage the participation of fathers. Particularly of note here are the NCT (The UK's largest charity for parents). Of the 8 courses (Early Days - postnatal) offered by the NCT within my region at around the correct time only 1 doesn't specifically say 'Women only'. There are a few father friendly courses run by some organsiations, but these seem to be spread widely around the UK, and run fairly infrequently. Many antenatal courses do encourage the participation of fathers, and that’s great, however the focus of these is generally up to and including the birth, and don’t seem to include much content on actual baby care.

So my questions for MN are:

1) Can anyone recommend some good baby care courses that are run fairly regularly in the Yorkshire area that do actively encourage the participation of fathers, or even better, are targeted equally at mothers and fathers?

2)What are peoples' thoughts about the apparent mismatch between the generally accepted view that fathers should be as involved in parenting as possible, and the general lack of support for doing so offered by the various parenting organisations?

3)Apart from breast feeding education, which I'm happy to acknowledge would be better done without fathers present, what is it that is presented on the various NCT courses that means that a general ban on the participation of fathers improves the course experience for the mothers that attend?

Thanks for your input.

And please go gentle on me - I mean well ;)

MixedBerries Thu 15-Sep-11 11:28:05

Hi. I'm afraid I can't offer advice on any courses- I live in N Wales and I haven't found a course I , as the mum, can attend. That's rural life for you!
BUT I have very strong feelings about point 2 you made above as I and my partner have remarked upon it so many times. At every appointment since we found out (and I'm now 37 weeks), he has come along too in an attempt to be as involved as possible in the pregnancy (and birth and upbringing) and at every appointment,be it with midwife, obstetrician or GP, he has been treated as some kind of alien or inconvenience. We too thought the government and medical community wanted fathers to be more involved but he has been treated as some kind of freaky pervert at every turn. Rant over. I'm glad it's not just us who've noticed.
And good luck finding a class.

ImpyCelyn Thu 15-Sep-11 11:28:22

The NCT course is open to fathers, there shouldn't be a ban at all. Here is is only the breastfeeding session that they ask fathers not to come to. I've never heard of that before. I find that baffling.

The hospital breastfeeding session however actually encouraged men to come, so that they would understand better what was going on in the first few weeks.

My hospital ran a special weekend course for fathers, perhaps your partner could ask her midwife if there's something similar in your area.


My husband (and in fact me) didn't go on any courses apart from the hospital breastfeeding session. He's been absolutely great with our baby, but he did have experience before from being part of a very large family.

Even if you don't manage to do a course, just ask your partner what she'd like you to do and how she'd like you to do it (ask in advance even, and make sure she knows that you're serious about changing nappies and outfits). Be patient if she shouts at you or tells you you're doing it wrong and just adapt. The hormones post birth are intense, and it can be difficult to hand over the baby and let someone else take charge.

I was petrified and generally deferred to my husband's experience and asked him how I should do it etc, but I still freaked out a couple of time that he was doing it wrong.

Then we asked on mumsnet smile

Some of the most useful things my husband did were just letting me get on with the baby while he did dinner, made me a cup of tea, washed up, did the laundry etc. And then once the baby was fed or whatever he took him a cuddle for an hour. Particularly useful when our son was just screaming for no apparent reason, he was just very calm and walked up and down singing to him. That was so so helpful. The constant crying can get very dispiriting. Be calm.

Oh, and don't say "does he/she need feeding" every time they cry, the hormones make you think that you're being told you haven't fed the baby enough or aren't taking care of it properly. It is true sometimes though smile


licoriceGreen Thu 15-Sep-11 12:08:04

My husband and I did the nct course, and the only bit that the dads were sent out for was the what happens if they need to cut you or you tear bit so we could ask questions without feeling embarase. The rest was really inclusive of partners. It covered everything up to the birth, then breast feeding, what you need for the first 6 weeks, how to change a baby, dress, wash, carry them as well as how you can support each other and what to expect in the early days. I'd highly recommend them.

somewherewest Thu 15-Sep-11 12:42:50

I'm really surprised at the NCT in your area as the NCT courses here (Oxfordshire) are very geared towards couples. In fact the NCT course we're doing at the moment is so couple-orientated it might be a bit lonely for unaccompanied mothers (there are none on the course). The woman leading the course is very good at involving the fathers and there is a lot of splitting the men and women into groups, which allows the men to talk to each other and raise issues they want addressed. My DH even went on his own one evening when I was away. It might be worth contacting the NCT and asking why their practice differs in your area.

PS My only issue with the NCT (which I've bitched about elsewhere grin) is that they push the 'natural' / homebirth thing too aggressively. Our course leader has been very impartial and open-minded but the literature we got was a bit too 'Natural' Homebirths Are The Only Way blah de blah for me. If that gets to you or your DP just ignore it and focus on the many useful bits.

somewherewest Thu 15-Sep-11 12:43:36

PS Congratulations by the way!

AprilAl Thu 15-Sep-11 13:31:25

The NCT antenatal courses in our area seem to be reasonably father friendly, but the postnatal courses (which presumably are more helpful for actual baby care) all specifically say "women only". I really don't understand it. Maybe the "fathers are parents too" message just hasn't reached Yorkshire yet. "Aye that's women's work lass, I'm off down t'pub, I'll be back for me tea".

I'm really surprised too, and kind of cross about it. It's not fair for DH to feel excluded, it's not MY baby, it's OURS (I'm Dudad's W by the way - I won't say DW, as the pregnancy hormones have made me a bit psycho this week and he might not be feeling the love - don't want to be presumptious ;))

Sorry to hear your DP was made to feel like an inconvenience at your appointments MixedBerries. We've only been for one appointment so far and I'm sorry to say that I also felt there was an air of "what's he doing here?" about the MW. I wondered if perhaps I was being oversensitive and will reserve judgement for next time, but it did get my back up given that the literature I was sent clearly states that fathers are welcome.

Thanks for your responses.

eightyone Thu 15-Sep-11 13:34:13

We did the hospital run Parentcarft course on a Saturday which covered the birth. Was great for my DH as he had no idea at all about birth and is very busy so wasnt able to read up on it all as I had. There was also a short natural birth course combined with birth centre tour that I went too in the evening that other partners attended, mine couldnt due to shift work.

Couldnt afford the NCT course in out area as we are in London and the cost was very high here.

As far as Question 2 I discussed this with my health visitor as my DH really struggled with the whole new baby stage and had no idea at all what it would be like. He only really got a grip on it all when our son was around 6 weeks old but it was a real struggle and basically all down to me holding it together for us all, which was really difficult for me as we have no friends or family living nearby.

I tried as best as I could to prepare him beforehand but it is hard to prepare someone through discussion alone, especially since I only had knowledge from books/internet, so I was finding my own way myself. Anyway she said that a few years ago there was a big push in our area to encourage future fathers to attend birth/newborn preparation classes specifically aimed at them, but unfortunately they never went ahead because there was very little uptake from the fathers. However even if there was a course available ironically my DH probably wouldnt have felt the need to attend anyway!! Unfortunately I think it can be the case for some people that they 'dont know that they dont know something'!

Pootles2010 Thu 15-Sep-11 13:35:55

There are some for mothers only so single ladies can go without feeling uncomfortable I believe. Suprised they're more common than coupley ones though!

There is plenty for fathers at our surestart centre, in fact it infuriates me that the only class offered on an evening/weekend is the 'dad's morning' on sat mornings. Obviously it's great that they have something for dads, but annoys me that they assume only dad's work. angry BTW I am in Yorkshire too!

Crosshair Thu 15-Sep-11 13:55:34

Me and dp have our first nhs class next week, never had a problem at any of the scans or appointments.(East Yorkshire)

somewherewest Thu 15-Sep-11 16:10:23

"Sorry to hear your DP was made to feel like an inconvenience at your appointments MixedBerries. We've only been for one appointment so far and I'm sorry to say that I also felt there was an air of "what's he doing here?" about the MW."

It does seem to be a bit like that. If I recall correctly the first thing the midwife asked about my DH during the pregnancy was to check if he was violent. Once they had established his ethnicity, his age and the fact that he wasn't beating me up he hasn't been asked after since (he's been very involved and was at the scans by the way, although he doesn't do the routine appointments). I recently read an interesting article which pointed out that the only visible reference to fathers-to-be in almost all antenatal care establishments were posters about domestic violence aimed at mothers.

nocake Thu 15-Sep-11 16:21:23

I was positively welcomed at the NCT breastfeeding course. Unfortunately it was during the day so only 2 dads from our group made it but it was very useful.

The NCT ante-natal course was very dad friendly but, as others have found, the post-birth courses aren't. My DW went to one of the post-birth NCT courses and she found it to be full of women whinging about their OH rather than providing practical advice, so she didn't go to any more. Maybe someone from the NCT might read this and take it on board?

It does seem odd that so much work is put into preparing women for parenthood and so little into preparing men. The healthcare profession don't assume women know what they're doing with a baby so why on earth do they assume that men know what they're doing, or do they not care? I was reading everything I could get my hands on about being a dad and I still wasn't prepared.

Pootles2010 Thu 15-Sep-11 16:26:46

Must be different from one place to the next somewhere - our centre is plastered in posters pointing out all the different benefits of the dad being around, and hands-on.

My midwife was great - asking dp how he was feeling, explaining to him how he could support bfing, etc. It varies so, so much. Guess its back to that postcode lottery again..

Quenelle Thu 15-Sep-11 16:29:31

Congratulations Dudad.

Our local NHS antenatal classes were open to dads as well as mums. There were three classes, one for labour, one for bathing, what-if-it's-crying, nappies etc and one for feeding. Men were very welcome at them all.

It obviously depends on your area though. I'm in the East of England. I understand some areas don't even offer NHS antenatal classes to all expectant mothers though.

Dudad Sat 17-Sep-11 07:56:29

Thanks for all the answers (and congratulations) everyone smile

As many has noted, I found the antenatal classes seem to encourage dads, but I was under ther impression these focussed mainly on prepartions for birth and didn't include a huge amount of baby-care advice, hence my looking at the postnatal courses (of which most are women only near me). From what some people have said it seems like I might have been wrong about these, and that antenatal courses do in fact contain a large component of baby-care; is this correct?

Incidentally I come from a large family, and was about 10 when my youngest sister was born, so I had a reasonable amount of baby exposure when I was young. My brother has also got a 7 month old, my sister 5 and 3 year olds, my sister in law a 1 year old, and my brother in law a 10 month old, so I have had a reasonable amount of recent experience too. However every bit of information / knowledge I can gather at this stage, when I've still got some free time, seems like it would be time well spent smile

As for the midwife appointment (we've only had one so far); it wasn't that I was really made to feel excluded, its just that no really effort was made to make me feel included - which is a bit disheartening. There is some literature in the centre aimed at fathers, but only a little.

I suppose I'll keep looking around for courses, we've still got 6 months to go, and DW is not imobile yet wink so we could travel a resonable distance for one.

Thanks agiain.

BikeRunSki Sat 17-Sep-11 08:08:58

Dudad - I'm in Yorkshire (Huddersfield) too and am chair of our local NCT group. I can assure you that dads are expected, included and welcome at NCT antenatal classes and the activities and discussions are designed to include dads (I did the classes 3 years ago, this is how I first came into contact with NCT). I found the same at my NHS classes too (Barnsley hospital). My husband agrees!

The only NCT class that excludes men is Early Days. This is because it is very much a de-brief from the whole birth experience, post natal support, post natal depression support and deals primarily with emotional and psycological situations that only women will experience post birth. I know men do too, but the Early Days course is designed as an open forum for women to discuss their feelings without being inhibited by the presence of an unknown man.

Pastabee Sat 17-Sep-11 08:51:57

Great post from bikerunski. I was really quite shocked that your NCT appeared not to welcome dads so it's good to hear the official line.

Our NCT has been great. I actually think my DH has learnt more than me and he gets happily involved in all discussions and exercises! The dads have never been sent out but sometimes we do group work separately before coming back together to discuss.

Half the class is birth, half is baby care. We've very much enjoyed playing with our faceless weighed doll (!) and learning basics of newborn care and health.

I'd highly recommend NCT to anyone. Ours are all in the evening too.

In the nicest possible way I don't agree with you about breastfeeding. We have two BF classes with NCT. One pre and one post. It was made really clear partners should attend the first and it really is geared to couples. Some dads didn't attend which was a great shame IMO as who else is going to be there to help me at 3am when the baby won't feed?!

The lady said the post natal is women only so ladies can bring up specific queries and problems without being embarrassed. It's more of a support class I think by then? But we do have a reunion group planned which we will all attend.

Perhaps you could ring and talk it through with local NCT chair?

Congratulations to you and your partner BTW. Hope you manage to find a class that suits and wish you well with rest of the pregnancy.

BikeRunSki Sat 17-Sep-11 13:14:26

Been thinking about this more and more.
The NCT tag-line is "Supporting you to be the parent you want to be" - mums and dads. I don't think NCT run father-specific courses for this reason, as the courses are inclusive of mums and dads (with the exception of Early Days/postnatal, as above in mine and Pastabee's posts).
Our branch has a Dads' group, several single dads including a widower and several stay at home dads. Dads often at coffee groups too.

NCT saved me from madness when I had a emcs (was determined to have water birth, but at least I'd done an emcs role play so I knew whey there were 12 people in the room) and gave me friends for life - 3 years later (and the second round of babies) we still see each other once a week or so.

I think I may have seen a dads-only parenting course advertised at my Surestart centre, but I may well be wrong. It seems a little odd seperating mums and dads, as raising a child is very much a joint venture.

themightyskim Sat 17-Sep-11 13:21:32

My experience of midwives has been similar so far I have to say, she basically ignored my boyfriend of two years until she asked about hereditary illnesses, and she listed me as single because we arent married which drove me insane, he has been invited to one fathers class much later in the pregnancy

All I can say is that this is DBF's second time round, he has a daughter too and he is a wonderful dad not through classes but just because he wanted to be - dont worry so much if you cant find what you want because the attributes of a good dad - love and help and consideration, cant be taught and its sounds like you have those ready and waiting smile

Dudad Mon 19-Sep-11 12:57:41

Thanks again for the responses.

@BikeRunSki I think I have a better understanding of the content of the antenatal vs post natal (early days courses) now, so thanks for that. You might want to feed back to the NCT that their website is a little confusing on this matter. The summary of the early-days course is: "^These new parent classes are for those with new babies to help parents make the adjustment to being parents and learn more about caring for themselves and their new baby.^". The use of the word 'parents'; here rather than 'mothers' does seem to belie the actual intended audience. The more detailed description does imply these are aimed at mothers, but no real explanation of why this is the case is given. Also, if as you say "^...I don't think NCT run father-specific courses for this reason, as the courses are inclusive of mums and dads^" then surely that applies equally to women only courses?

Thanks to every one for generally clarifying that the antenatal courses do include a large degree of baby-care content, that's useful to know and somewhat mitigates my need for a dedicated baby-care course. I suppose I can attend these and see if I feel I'm missing anything before I look for additional courses.

@themightyskim Thanks for the nice comment smile

Caliphora Mon 19-Sep-11 20:44:16

Dudad - We are currently doing the NHS classes (4 sessions: Labour/Birth, Complications of birth and birth choices, Post natal, Breast feeding)
They're in the evenings so all the partners/husbands get a chance to come, and we discussed all the gory bits together, so the guys got to wince at the episiotomy stories and pictures of gloopy stuff in their former favourite place to be.

I looked into the NCT classes, and they cover the same stuff, but charge you depending on area - we were going to have to pay £240 for 2 sessions - we decided to save that money into a university fund instead (together with the £1000 we saved by not buying a Stokke cot and Bugaloo pram...)!

With midwives it's mixed pot, really. Some love having the banter with the dad, some think they're influencing the mother's replies. As long as you act as keen and supportive as you obviously are, they'll be nice and supportive back, in my experience.

Caliphora Mon 19-Sep-11 20:55:18

(also, my partner enjoys reading these:

spannermary Mon 19-Sep-11 21:53:05

BikeRunSki that's really good to hear. My DH and I are hoping to attend Antenatal courses at Barnsley Hospital - where our first child will hopefully be born.

On a slight side issue, it really really bugs me that, as a Rhesus negative mum-to-be I have to have injections etc to protect my baby. My DH offered to have a blood test to find out if he's negative too, which would eliminate the risk (as I understand it). This, I've been told, isn't an option, just in case DH isn't the father. Charming!

Although we can laugh at the ridiculousness, it does make me feel as though I'm viewed as untrustworthy, and my DH as a bit of a spare part/second class citizen.

We should be treated as parents, in for the long haul!

KellyKettle Tue 20-Sep-11 11:44:44

There is someone running antenatal classes specifically for dads:

I don't live anywhere near Peterborough so I don't know what they're like but if you're nearby they might be worth looking into?

KellyKettle Tue 20-Sep-11 11:48:58

Oh they're doing a roadshow so you might find a class comes to you. I know my DH wouldn't want to attend anything like this on his own but it's a nice idea that it is geared towards men. I'd be interested to hear from women whose partners have been. I wonder if they noticed a difference over, say, attending NCT or hypnobirthing together.

I also agree with the partner-being-ignored-by-clinicians in pregnancy etc. It's partly why we went with an independent midwife this time.DH asks her lots of questions during her visits.

I also wish they were considered as a greater part of a new mother and babies life and this was acknowledged with more than 2 weeks pat leave. But thats another thread...

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