Dad’s Classes are serious men’s business

Dad’s Classes are serious men’s business

Mater Mothers’ Hospitals holds inpatient classes for new dads after the birth of their baby to talk about what it means to be a new dad, how to bond with their new baby and remember to care for themselves too.

The classes were developed after new fathers said they value the opportunity to talk to one another about topics such as the birth experience, balancing responsibilities of work and family and managing stress.

Pastoral Care Practitioner Eleni Kouzoukas has been involved with the classes for nine years.

“We run the classes twice a week and discussion is supported by an occupational therapist and a Pastoral Care Practitioner,” Eleni said.

“We capture dads when they’re raw, exhausted and in need to debrief with someone independent to their story.

“It’s a place they can rest and escape from their experience, because as we know birthing experiences can vary and best laid plans go out the window when the birth comes around.

“I’ve had some dads just sit there and cry for most of the session because they’re emotionally overwrought. They hold themselves together because they feel their partner’s gone through enough and it’s not the right time to bring anything up and it’s amongst the processing we do with them that emotions rise up and we acknowledge the group as a safe place to receive support,” she said.

Mater Mothers’ Occupational Therapist Esther Van Raalte said each session is guided by dads.

“Often dads know the basics but we build on top of those–we talk baby care skills, how to bond with their baby and how to manage stress,” Esther said.

“We discuss the challenges of dads returning to work and learning how to juggle their life roles and maintaining a healthy relationship with their partner,” she said.

The classes also teach dads how to release control and just accept things as they happen.

“Generally speaking, dads are used to structure and control around them, but when a baby comes along that’s challenged and they need to adjust their thinking and be more flexible,” she said.

Eleni said feedback from participants is overwhelmingly positive and dads leave the class armed with plenty of advice on where to seek support.

“We supply online resources, encourage them to connect with their GP and also meet regularly with a mate regularly who already has kids,” Eleni said.

“Our most important piece of advice is if you’re struggling with fatherhood, there is always someone you can talk to,” she said.

Dad’s Classes are held every Monday and Thursday (except public holidays) on Level 12 Mater Mothers’ Hospitals and run for 1 hour at 1 pm.

For outpatient support, please contact your GP or visit: healthyfamilies.beyondblue.org.au/pregnancy-and-new-parents/dadvice-for-new-dads

 

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