More than 1000 dads across western Sydney have signed up to a free text message program to help new and expectant fathers navigate life as a dad.
The Focus on New Fathers program is a pilot run by NSW Health which sends text messages to new dads and dads-to-be providing them with tips, tools and links to services.
The text messages cover themes like how dads can support their partner, how they can connect with their baby and dad self-care.
When his partner Kirsten was 20 weeks pregnant, Quakers Hill resident Nathan Brewer heard about the program from a friend who recommended he sign up.
“Kirsten would often ask if the baby had texted me today as the messages would often come in the ‘voice’ of a baby helping me form a connection with our child early. The text messages also gave Kirsten and I extra moments to talk and laugh during the pregnancy,” Nathan said.
“The text messages were bite-sized, engaging and made me feel like I had my own personal learning source of dad information in my pocket.
“It’s a shared responsibility and that’s why Focus on New Fathers has been, and continues to be, so helpful. The texts are easy to absorb and the information isn’t overwhelming.”
The text messages helped complement what Nathan was learning about pregnancy, birth and parenthood from their Blacktown Midwifery Group Practice midwife, baby books and videos.
“One of the text messages about encouraging and supporting breastfeeding reminded us to help each other and to have each other’s back,” Nathan said.
Baby Grace-Jasmine was born at Blacktown Hospital in May this year and both Nathan and Kirsten are smitten.
Nathan said the love and bond between him and Grace-Jasmine is undeniable and he is enjoying being a dad.
I’m so happy, I’m so chuffed,” Nathan said.
“Being a good parent is about investing in your relationship, learning about pregnancy and how to look after yourself as a new dad.”
The Focus on New Fathers program also regularly checks in with dads to ask them how they are feeling emotionally. If dads indicate they need extra support, they can be linked to Perinatal Anxiety Depression Australia (PANDA) on 1300 726 306 or Mensline for phone support and referral on 1300 78 99 78.
“It was so easy to sign up, it took 2 minutes of my life,” Nathan said.