New antenatal program fills in the gaps for gay dads
Sydney-based midwife Rachael Matthews has developed a program to support same-sex couples who are transitioning to parenthood.
With 23 years’ experience working with families in the healthcare system, the registered nurse noticed a glaring lack of services for male couples who were planning for the arrival of a newborn, typically through the Growing Families surrogacy program.
“They aren’t doing any antenatal courses, they are not going to classes for heterosexual couples, they are watching You Tube videos on how to change nappies, or asking their mums and sisters for help," she says.
Having spent most of her career in public and private hospital services, Rachael has directed new parent education for what she sees as a neglected group of gay men, wanting to prepare for their new arrival but without the support offered to women.
“I don’t agree with the one size fits all with the hospital system,” she says.
The Dads Hive program is delivered in the home … typically via Zoom in the current safe-distancing climate, making it accessible to Australian and internationally-based dads.
The four-hour program ($120 an hour including an 80-page manual and follow up optional in-home visits), covers sleeping routines, how to set up a soothing environment, breast milk banks and demonstration of formula preparation and storage, baby handling skills (bathing, settling to bed, nappies and dressing), infant communication and bonding, tips for travelling and how to stay connect as a couple.
Dads Hive was designed for families with one or two men fathering a child, and sits apart from Rachael's program for women.
“Both programs are similar but uniquely different, as we are as men, women, transgender or gender fluid parents,” she states.
“I want to work with guys who are adopting or fostering, I’m all about them as a couple. I get frustrated when I hear people say: ‘I don’t know how dads can be maternal,’ I’m all about breaking down those stereotypes.
“I want them to feel empowered to get the information themselves rather than go to mothers and sisters.”
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Gay dads face discrimination (AMHF)