It's an exciting time in life becoming a new dad. But it can also be a daunting one, with the family dynamic changing forever.
But what is well known is that from early pregnancy through to the first parenting months, an involved father can support many practical and emotional needs of both mother and child.
Kidz Need Dadz is a charity working to strengthen families by supporting and educating dads on the importance of being involved in their children's lives.
A new focus for the charity has been in relation to baby time issues such as new parent anxiety, difficult childbirth, postnatal depression, child health issues, stressed parenting, or primary or sole caregiver parents.
The charity's DadzKare Coordinator, Caen Chapman-Taylor, has recently been working with mother-baby groups to learn how he can better support dads.
Lisa Ford, Office Manager at Kidz Need Dadz, says this work is important, as dads who are educated and informed can support a stronger, resilient family, rather than distancing themselves from the mother-child relationship.
"The mother-baby groups have been supportive and excited to have our Coordinator present, engaged and interested in baby time issues. This aligns with Maori values – it takes a village to raise a child, not the mother alone. Dads are part of the family and need to also be knowledgeable and supported in this changing and challenging time of childbirth.
"It still occurs where midwives tell the father they cannot be part of the birthing process. We know that removing Dad from a baby's birth can delay a child's development and potentially initiate a separation of the family.
"Mother-baby centric support is necessary to give mums the ability and confidence to care for a baby. However, fathers are part of the family and need training, care and support in parallel. Interestingly, it is well known that perinatal depression and anxiety affect mums but also can affect dads by proxy."
Caen is a father himself so he has experience of fatherhood and understands the changes that take place for a new mum, including hormonal changes and mental health.
Working with the mother-baby groups, he has been able to gain their perspective on how they believe Dads can support mother and child better, so he can apply that to his discussions with dads.
Lisa says where a parent is unsupported through change, this can result in relationships failing.
"Consequently, a child's development is more likely to be diminished when the family separates. We believe that supporting a father through baby time issues improves the family dynamic, reduces stress, potential separation and the "ambulance work" which has high social and financial costs."
Kidz Need Dadz work to reduce the effects of absent fathers by providing a number of services, including education programmes, community family events, supervised contact with children, and DadzKare. DadzKare features a 24/7 crisis line, weekly support group, and one-on-one advocacy support.
Lisa says their work is so important as dads have male-specific issues that are not addressed through alternative services.
"Dad centric services upskill, prepare, and support Dads with baby time matters through a changing family dynamic. Baby time issues traditionally focus on the mother and child. Our goals are focused on supporting dads and subsequently improving the father-child relationship.
"We take a holistic view that a well-supported dad is a better partner and dad to the mother and child. We also work with dads on their conduct with the Mum and child within or outside the relationship. We assist Fathers in resolving care and contact arrangements to find a balanced outcome that best supports the child."
Kidz Need Dadz has been supported by TECT since 2007 with over $68,000 in funding.
Lisa says TECT's funding is critical for Kidz Need Dadz to continue to deliver their services, strengthening father-child relationships through support, education and fun.
"There are very few father-centric support services available or comparable to the service we offer in the Bay of Plenty. If we did not receive support from TECT, it would mean less or no support for fathers, which would result in children being less resilient and having fragmented conflicting family relationships.
"It takes a village to raise a child, and we thank TECT for supporting Kidz Need Dadz to be part of the community that supports our children."
To learn more about the work of Kidz Need Dadz, visit https://www.kidzneeddadz.org.nz/.