Including dads in antenatal care
In the past, midwives and obstetricians focused mainly on the mother and baby. Now staff in hospitals and other birth settings are becoming more aware that men want to be involved in pregnancy, birth and parenting.
Signs that hospitals are becoming better at including expectant dads in antenatal care are the increasing number of birth classes just for men and more efforts by health professionals to connect with men.
Midwife-led antenatal care can be a good option if you want to feel and be more involved in pregnancy, antenatal care and birth. With this kind of care, you and your partner will see and get to know the same midwife or small group of midwives throughout pregnancy.
Feeling left out but staying involved
Hospital staff are very busy, and appointment times are limited. If staff don’t ask you about how you’re going, it doesn’t mean they’re not interested. It might be that they’ve got a lot of things to check on with your partner and unborn baby.
Some staff are better at involving men than others. Sometimes it will be up to you to make it clear that you want to be part of the discussion and to raise any concerns you have.
You’re more likely to be included in the conversation if you introduce yourself and are warm and friendly. It’s also a good idea to be on time and turn off your phone so no-one is distracted. This sends a strong message that this appointment is the most important thing to you right now.
If you keep a list of questions, it will help you focus your conversations with health professionals. And if time is short, you can quickly ask the ones that are most important to you. Don’t worry about asking ‘dumb’ questions. If you’re confused about what’s happening, it’s a good idea to ask.
My partner was concerned that the clinicians were always putting me in the shadows. At the hospital and most of the clinical settings, there was usually one chair so I would stand right at the back. My partner would say, ‘This is my partner’ as a protest that this other person in the pregnancy was invisible.
– Rahul, father of two
Things you can do
- At antenatal appointments, be on time, turn your phone off, introduce yourself and be warm and friendly.
- Keep a list of any questions for health professionals, and bring it to the appointments.
- If you’re feeling left out, tell the health professional or staff member that you want to be involved. Try to strike a balance between letting them focus on the baby and asking your questions.
- Let your partner know about ways she can help you be involved at appointments.