A new Department of Health guide aimed at increasing the role of fathers in the pre and postnatal process has received the support of the Royal College of Midwives general secretary Cathy Warwick.

Speaking following the publication's launch by Public Health Minister Anne Milton at the RCM's annual conference this week, Prof Warwick said: "[This guide] will increase awareness of the importance of fathers being engaged in their partner's maternity care, as well as assist local maternity services and midwives develop their practices.

"A father's role should not begin and end at conception, there is now substantial evidence of the benefits resulting from fathers being involved in their partner's maternity care and midwives play a vital role in engaging with men."

Health officials created the guide after research found many mothers feel their partners receive "little or no support" leading to increased incidences of male postnatal depression and post-traumatic stress.

The health minister added: "Becoming a parent is hugely exciting but it can be a challenging time and some fathers can be left traumatised after their partner has given birth.

"We've worked closely with the RCM on this [guide] to make sure midwives recognise their unique role so fathers feel welcomed and supported during this special time in their lives."

Advice from the guide, which has also been endorsed by The Fatherhood Institute, has already been implemented in several NHS Trusts including North Staffordshire where antenatal classes are now held on Sunday evenings to fit round fathers' working lives and sporting commitments.

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A full copy of the guide along with top tips and case studies is available at http://www.rcm.org.uk/college/policy-practice/government-policy/fathers-guide/ 

Check out www.jfhc.co.uk next week for more exclusive videos and content from the RCM Conference 2011 including Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham, ITV's Nina Hossain, RCM's Cathy Warwick and Anne Fox of the National Childbirth Trust.

Posted on November 18 2011 at 1500 by richard.hook@pavpub.com