Scheme helps dads play a greater role in postnatal care

Posted: November 15, 2011

Princess Anne Wing pilot scheme recognised in new guide

A pilot scheme being run on the Princess Anne Wing (PAW) at the Royal United Hospital in Bath, which aims to help fathers to get more involved in their partner's maternity care, has been recognised in a new guide launched by the Royal College of Midwives today at their annual conference.

The guide, called Reaching Out: Involving Fathers in Maternity Care is a joint publication produced by The Royal College of Midwives, the Department of Health, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and the Fatherhood Institute.

The guide reports that many mothers feel their birth partners receive little or no support. Mothers said there is a lack of awareness and recognition by midwives and health professionals of the benefits of effective paternal involvement in maternity care. Raising awareness of postnatal depression and post-traumatic stress disorder for fathers is also a key issue.

Managed by Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the Princess Anne Wing has successfully piloted a Partners Staying Overnight scheme - one of only five across the country that has been recognised by the guide as an example of good practice.

The scheme encourages new fathers to be a visible parent from the start, so they can bond with their baby and help and support the mother in the first few hours after the birth. The Trust also provides reclining chairs for the fathers to rest in during their stay in the unit.

Amanda Gell, Clinical Midwife Manager at the Princess Anne Wing, said: "Partners can find it very difficult to leave a new mother and baby following the birth, by encouraging the partner to stay ensures the support that they have given during the birth is continued and also allows essential family time together. Our aim is to provide positive birth experiences and this helps us to achieve this.

"The pilot scheme has been such as success it is now a permanent fixture on the unit."

Noreen Hart from the National Childbirth Trust (NCT), which backs the scheme, said: "The option for partners staying for the first night at PAW is an important step in supporting the beginning of a family and the feedback from families is that this has made a huge difference to partners' involvement in their baby's first hours as well as both parents' overall satisfaction with their experience.

"This is a real feather in the cap for Princess Anne Wing and beautifully demonstrates their commitment to continually improve the service they provide for parents in and around the area."

The Reaching Out guide will be launched today at the Royal College of Midwives annual conference in Brighton by Public Health Minister Anne Milton.

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