Infant Journal
for neonatal and paediatric healthcare professionals

Postnatal services are not engaging with fathers

Bringing Baby Home, a review from the Fatherhood Institute funded by the Nuffield Foundation, considers UK fathers and fatherhood in the first postnatal year. It explores who dads are; what they do as caregivers and what influences this; what impact they have (on children and mothers); and how services engage with them.

The research systematically reviewed around 800 studies, including studies based on the UK’s large-scale birth cohort studies, on fathers and fatherhood in the first year following birth. The review concludes that, despite clear evidence that there is a strong case for routine engagement with fathers in the perinatal period, NHS systems are not set up to engage with, assess and support new fathers.

The review identifies challenges in maternity services such that family records cannot be seen in a joined-up way and fathers are not recorded as central members of a new family. It also found that no systematic support is offered to new fathers by NHS providers – no recognition of their role, or even, sometimes, their existence. Evidence shows fathers have significant impact on key maternal outcomes including the initiation and continuation of breastfeeding and postnatal depression. However, services do not provide information to support fathers in their role, despite 80% of new mothers reporting the father to be their main source of support.

The report suggests four key recommendations for how policy and services could be improved.

To read the report visit:

Bringing Baby Home, a review by the Fatherhood Institute.