What part do men play in child bearing?

What role do men play as a woman gives birth?
What role do men play as a woman gives birth?

Having a new baby is usually a wonderful event, but with maternity services geared towards Mum, what part does the partner play in ensuring a smooth delivery?

Feedback collected by Healthwatch Bucks identified that partners wanted to talk about their birth experience.

Healthcare Bucks identified that partners wanted to talk about their birth experience. In light of this, they ran two focus groups to talk to dads about their role before, during and after birth

The findings were then compiled into an informative report: Dads and Maternity: Partner Experience.

Feedback from partners was overwhelmingly positive, however most were keen to express that they wanted more involvement overall.

“You might not be giving birth but you are there and you are important”

Dad, Healthwatch Bucks Focus Group

The report found that “Overall people were positive about their experience of birth and what the NHS provided, with midwives being singled out for particular praise.

“Even when dads has a difficult birth experience, their overall feedback was positive.”

Some of the quotes from dads said: “We went for a tour of the birthing centre, and all the staff were brilliant!”

Another dad said: “We did the NHS classes – they were really good, informative friendly.”

Healthwatch Bucks have also provided some recommendations for dads at the birth side:

Partners should be encouraged to give feedback about their birth experience

The time of ante-natal classes should be reviewed to make sure they are accessible to those unable to take time off work easily

The profile of those attending ante-natal classes should be reviewed and, where it does not align with the ethnic profile of those giving birth, measures should be put in place to encourage take up across all ethnic groups

Material provided before, during and after birth should be reviewed and where appropriate should be targeted at partners

Processes should be put in place/reviewed to ensure that if partners are left alone with a new baby practical and emotional support is available – or partners know where to find it

Consideration should be given to:

Basic online NHS approved ‘how to’ guides on basic elements of baby care

Providing more online/written/face to face material aimed specifically at the role of the partner before, during and after birth

Midwives should if necessary clarify with partners that any advice they give is professional rather than personal, to avoid any element of doubt

Further work should be done to look more specifically at differing partner requirements, for example same-sex partners, ethnic minority partner

Looking forward, Healthwatch Bucks will be providing their report to the Head of Midwifrey at Bucks Healthcare Trust to find out from her what can be done or is already being done to take these recommendations forward.

Importantly, the report also draws attention to advice needed when dealing with a new-born. One father reported that he Youtubed ‘How to bathe a baby’ and wasn’t sure if advice given by midwives was professional or personal.

Healthwatch Bucks has asked that consideration be given to providing NHS approved ‘how to’ guides on basic elements of baby care, and that midwifes should if necessary clarify advice with partners, to avoid any element of doubt.

Healthwatch Bucks is pleased to have the support of the Head of Midwifery at Buckinghamshires Healthcare Trust and will be working in conjunction with her to take these recommendations forward.

The full report is available at www.healthwatchbucks.co.uk.