Support for new fathers
The www.sms4dads.com website and associated app provides invaluable support to new fathers.
As noted on the website “the birth of a new baby can be the happiest time in a dads' life. But getting ready for the new arrival can be difficult. All of the changes after the birth can also be hard to manage. This is a time when dads are usually very busy and they may not have support available.
When stress builds up dads may not know where to go or who to ask. Even with the internet there are so many options that it is not easy to find the right information.
SMS4dads provides new fathers with information and connections to online services through their mobile phones. The text messages with tips, information and links to other services help fathers understand and connect with their baby and support their partner. The expected date of delivery or date of birth, which is entered at enrolment, ensure that the texts are linked to the developmental stage of the baby (from week 12 of the pregnancy until 24 weeks post birth). Many texts use the ‘voice’ of the baby, for example, ‘Talk to me about anything dad. Your words will help my brain development’ others suggest actions ‘Find ways to tell your partner she is doing an amazing job. This could be really important to her’.
Texts, which include links to online resources, also prompt fathers to monitor health behaviours (diet, exercise, social connection) and every three weeks fathers receive a ‘How’s it going?” interactive text. Dads can reply with Awesome or Cool or OK or Shaky or Bad. ‘Bad’ responses are escalated to receive a telephone call from a national perinatal mental health help line. Fathers’ acceptance of the messages (Texting ‘STOP’ removes participants from the program), their use of links and response to ‘How’s it going?’ texts are recorded. Fathers are offered an exit interview and mothers are invited to give their perceptions of how SMS4dads worked for their partners.”