Men have their own unique experiences with labor, childbirth, and parenting. They often experience a transition to parenthood that is just as profound as the mom’s transition. As educators, it is important to find ways to address “dad” as an individual. In fact, studies demonstrate that men often feel that their feelings about the pregnancy and parenting are unvalidated (Jordan, 2007). Research validates that dad’s influence and behavior is just as critical as moms’ in fostering the health and well-being of the entire family. Click here for 3 evidence-based reasons that validate why it is important to include dad.
Prenatal educators have a prime opportunity to reach out to dad during class. The following are a few strategies to help educators speak to expectant fathers during childbirth classes:
• Consider an exercise whereby mom and dad each complete a parenting questionnaire. The questions will address how they feel about becoming a parent and how they envision their role. One study (Belsky and Kelly, 1995) suggested 5 critical areas of concern for new parents:
• Division of housework and child care
• Financial worries
• Balancing work and family life
• Marital relationship stress
• Time for self and social activities
Some of the concerns listed will be the same, but others will be different for each partner. Ask for volunteers in the class to share one “area” that was different for each parent.
Click here for a sample of a tool that can be reproduced and used in your classes. (Adapted tool from Sean Brotherson’s IJCE publication from 2007).
• Remind dad that his participation in “getting ready for baby” is key in helping mom feel confident as a mother. He should not underestimate his role in supporting mom. Dad’s support of mom is his first step in being a good parent to his baby.
• Discuss practicing a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy, address the importance of dad’s healthy lifestyle as well. This might be the only time that dad's lifestyle is addressed during the pregnancy. Dad’s perspective on smoking, alcohol use, and breastfeeding support impact the health of mom and child. Point out a couple of the evidence based reasons in the evidence based reasons attachment. Provide local smoking cessation resources as a standard part of class, as expectant parents will be uncomfortable asking for this resource specifically.
Provide dad with resources just for him:
• Books: Hit the Ground Crawling: Lessons From 150,000 New Fathers by Greg Bishop, 2006; published by Adventure Dads; Crash Course for New Dads by Greg Bishop – 2008; published by adventure dads;Getting to 50/50: How Working Couples Can Have It All by Sharing It All by Sharon Meers and Joanna Strober; 2009; Bantam publishing
• Handouts: adventuredads.com has a free downloadable Dad’s Adventure magazine. You can copy as many as you need or call them directly and purchase magazines 25 cents per copy.
Emphasize what dad can do to nurture baby:
• Read to baby – studies specifically suggest that “dad’ reading to baby promotes later success in school
• Practice skin to skin contact – establishes a vestibular connection and regulates the baby heart and breathing rate
• Play with baby – adventuredads.com has a fantastic video that guides dads in how to play with their baby
• Help mom breastfeed by:
•Help mom get comfortable and bring baby to her
•Sit with mom during breastfeeding and enjoy this time for the 3 of you
•Bring mom water and food – when dad feeds mom, he is also feeding baby
Click here for a free downloadable “dad and breastfeeding brochure” from the Fatherhood Institute.
A challenging economy, tighter budgets and more work with less time to do it are a few of the challenges managers face. As we progress through 2010, what do you wish to accomplish? How will you positively impact your workplace?
Mentor Your Team
“Leadership is important for setting the tone of an organization (Al Shammari 1992). Leaders provide the vision for an organization’s objectives and a blueprint for how they can be achieved. It is their responsibility to ensure that the motivation, tools, knowledge and skills required to reach established goals are present in the workplace.” (2007 ICN)
Inspire others to work their best—start each day or shift with an inspiring beginning by communicating with each other. Gather the staff and communicate at the beginning of each shift. Starting each workday on a positive note helps everyone you work with get their day off to a good start. Managers and/or charge nurses may use this opportunity to communicate news and disseminate important information.
Mentor potential leaders daily. Find co-workers with hidden potential. Inspire these employees to learn leadership techniques, pursue additional education and to solve your units’ challenges. Share what you have learned and ask for help. Get everyone involved and delegate responsibility.
Celebrate successes, the weather, birthdays—everyone enjoys celebrating at work. Potlucks, parties and recognition are motivational. Include the entire healthcare team: physicians, housekeepers and everyone that contributes to the team's success.
Do you need to increase your revenue? Search for free programs and resources. Collaborate and utilize inexpensive or free materials. Did your budget get slashed? Can’t purchase educational programs? Search organizations for free patient handouts. March of Dimes, Safekids, your local health department and state websites are just a few resources to find information. If a grant writer is available to you, communicate your needs and search for available funds. Auxiliary and volunteer organizations may also be helpful to underwrite some costs for programs. Perhaps a public health student could evaluate your programs in comparison to your competitors. Find a “top ten” organization or hospital in the country and follow their programs and marketing. Many times their programs can spark ideas to create new programs to fit your patient base or staff needs. Are there colleagues advancing their educations? Their course projects could parallel with new program development.
For more than 10 years, Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Illinois has hosted a Look What We Can Do! class for new moms and babies up to one year of age. Guest speaker and childbirth educator led topics keep this group’s costs to a minimum. Web based information from many sources and speakers such as lactation consultants, podiatrists, librarians, and pediatric dentists etc. keep this group interested in exciting topics for new moms until their child’s first birthday. The primary cost for this informational class is for the class facilitator (a certified childbirth educator) and minimal expenses for supplies.
Focus on the positive and encourage a fun work environment. Encourage walking clubs at lunch around the campus, encourage a healthy lifestyle, and recognize team work. Value your employees’ time away from the workplace. Prioritize everyone’s break time—everyone needs a little time away during the day.
Set three or four realistic goals for the year and have them in your vision daily. Placing them on your desk allows you to check on yourself often and see how you are doing. With some planning, you will applaud your efforts at the end of the year for a job well done in 2010.
References: (Baumann, 2007)