Interview: DaddyNatal

The other day I had a piece published on Parentdish, about a man’s view of antenatal classes. In it, I quote Dean Beaumont, who stopped whinging about how tailored towards the mum antenatal classes are, got off his bum, and did something about it.

He set up DaddyNatal, a dads-only antenatal class (which the Daily Mail shudderingly referred to as a ‘mantenatal class’) where guys can get together and chat about what they’re really thinking about when it comes to pregnancy, birth and fatherhood. His classes are gaining momentum quickly, with Peterborough Hospital recently commissioning a trial run of DaddyNatal classes.

Because I’m a nice guy, I thought it would be a good idea to publish the short interview in full. So here it is.

What made you decide to start up DaddyNatal?

I felt I was prepared for the birth of my son, had read the books and been to the childbirth classes, but after the birth of my son, I realised I had not been prepared, and felt I had let my partner down. What I realised is that childbirth education is tailored to women, and actually, that there was very little information for men, tailored for men, as they prepare for their role in birth and beyond. The birth partner has a massive influence on labour, and can affect how long it lasts, how painful it is, and whether interventions are needed or used.

How many classes have you done so far?

I started running the courses last April. Off top of my head I couldn’t tell you how many so far: probably around 10 or 12. Momentum is now gaining, as you may have seen, and courses are running 3 times a month. We will begin training more dads to deliver the classes starting this October, as being the only one and with my own young family and full time job my time is limited.

What has the feedback been from dads who have attended?

Feedback so far has been 100% positive, with an interesting mix of first time dads and those who have already had a child. Second-or-more-time dads always comment on how they wish they had had this information for the birth of their first. There’s nothing better than getting an email from one of my dads telling me about a positive birth experience.

What benefits do you think dads get from attending specialist antenatal classes?

Specialist classes for dads means we can cover the subject purely from male perspective. This allows us to discuss fears, questions and advice in a very specific way. It also allows us to talk about things most men wouldn’t dream of discussing in front of women, especially their partner. We can also use male humour and generally have a relaxed environment tailored to suit men.

Do you think there are any personal barriers that dads need to overcome to attend a DaddyNatal class, eg. pride?

Yes, definitely. There is still a lot of reticence on the part of men to attend classes of any type. With their ever changing roles and the expectations on fathers this will change, and this is again why DaddyNatal will help. Attending a men only class will appeal to more men. That said, half of attendees are probably booked on to the course by their partner. I think men that are already fathers tend to be very keen to book on to the course depending on their first time experiences.

I always ask the question of men: WHY? Why wouldn’t you want to attend? Why wouldn’t you want to learn how you can be the best possible support for your partner and unborn child? Why would you want to make your partners labour longer and more painful?
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