What Dads Need in Parenthood
Help for Dads During Pregnancy
Child success starts with success of the whole family. That’s why all our programs are focused on the well-being of everyone in the household. In our Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) program, first-time moms are matched with a free personal nurse while they are pregnant and for the first two years of their child’s life. But it’s not just moms that benefit!
Ke’Vone shares how being a part of NFP helped him as a dad, husband, and person during this big, life-changing moment in his life.
Becoming a Father
When his partner Jasira got pregnant with their son, Ke’Vone was excited but also nervous about bringing home a baby. They decided to join Any Baby Can’s Nurse-Family Partnership to get some extra guidance and support on taking care of their first child, especially since they didn’t have family nearby. They were matched with Nurse Home Visitor Eunice Karanja, RN, BSN.
Ke’Vone made it a priority to be at every nurse visit and learn as much as he could. He remembers how Eunice made time and effort to involve him in the visits.
“At Jasira’s regular doctor’s visits, I felt like I was just there to drive her to the appointment. The doctor didn’t involve me at all. And I get it – she’s the one that’s pregnant! But Eunice would ask me, ‘What are you feeling this week?’ or ‘How are you doing with the preparation?’ and I was like: Wait, you’re asking me that question! It felt good to be part of the team,” says Ke’Vone.
When dads have a better idea of what to expect during pregnancy, labor, and delivery, they can support their partner better and handle their own feelings, expectations and worries. Ke’Vone remembers Eunice telling him that the baby will probably feel closer to mom at first. So when he experienced this after his son was born, he felt like he was more prepared.
“The nurse visits helped us understand what’s going on. What did this term mean? What should we watch out for? As we got closer to the due date, I remember her bringing a doll and letting us get hands-on experience. It was exactly what we needed to ease any questions, especially in the last couple weeks,” recalls Ke’Vone.
Dads Need an Emotional Check-in Too
Dads often don’t feel seen during this time. In fact, 1 in 10 non-birthing partners experience postpartum anxiety or depression1. And it can be harder for them to get support.
Our staff give partners, grandparents, siblings and anyone in the household an opportunity to participate. During each visit, they check in on how everyone is doing since the last visit, answer any questions, and even give some “homework” that helps parents stay connected and learn between sessions.
“It is about mom and baby, but partners can bring a lot of support to the family unit,” says Eunice.
For Ke’Vone, these tasks helped him and Jasira have important conversations about being parents and starting a life together.
Guidance With New Baby
Eunice visited the family a few weeks after they brought their son home. Ke’Vone says it was comforting to have someone there, like sharing their baby with a family member. During an emotional time of sleepless nights and so many questions, Eunice provided consistency and support.
“At our pediatrician appointments, we could ask questions, but sometimes they don’t feel as personal. Nurse visits are personal. She knows us. We could correct things as they came up. When we couldn’t agree to an answer, Eunice was our tiebreaker! We trusted her to give us the best advice,” recalls Ke’Vone.
With each new milestone, they didn't have to look up answers or compare their baby to others. Their nurse reassured mom and dad that their son was meeting milestones, feeding at the right time, creating a schedule. She even gave advice to help their baby sleep!
As part of this team, their family was able to find resources, go back to work, grow together as a couple, and be partners in giving their son a beautiful future.
“Ke’Vone is an active and important part of this team. He’s very observant, very keen. He has learned how to be supportive, understand his son’s milestones, and cope with his own transition into parenthood,” says Eunice.
A Partnership for the Whole Family
The program is called Nurse-Family Partnership and not Nurse-Mother Partnership for a reason! Early support for women—and their children and partners—decreases time away from work, reduces family stress and child maltreatment, improves long-term health and mental health, and lowers costs to the family.
“Once a dad can understand the ins and outs of what pregnancy looks like—and post-birth looks like—it eases that voice in your head, of doubt or confusion. You can be stable and help hold everyone up. It’s a big responsibility and our nurse made sure I was prepared for it,” shares Ke’Vone.
Supporting partners who aren't giving birth is important for the ultimate success of the family. Any Baby Can also offers parenting classes, including ones just for dads and father figures. And we have family events and dads’ support networks (ask about our new Dad’s Café!).
“We [dads] feel isolated, but you’re not. You’re going through the same experience another dad is going through. The emotions are normal. Let them be,” advises Ke’Vone.
1 Leiferman JA, Farewell CV, Jewell J, Rachael Lacy, Walls J, Harnke B, Paulson JF. Anxiety among fathers during the prenatal and postpartum period: a meta-analysis. J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol. 2021 Jun;42(2):152-161. doi: 10.1080/0167482X.2021.1885025. Epub 2021 Feb 25. PMID: 33632067.
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