27 May 2020, 1:55 p.m.

DadPad is an information pack in digital form developed by dads, for dads to help fathers of all ages in Gloucestershire prepare for family life.

This is particularly relevant in a time when access to parental education classes and midwife appointments have been changed or curtailed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The app covers a range of issues, such as how dads can support mums who are breastfeeding, the anxiety and frustrations that come with parenthood, as well as hands-on advice on issues like nappy changing. Its aim is to provide new fathers across Gloucestershire with guidance on how to develop the mind-set, confidence and practical skills needed to meet their baby’s physical and emotional needs.

In addition to general advice, the app is designed to help partners cope with theirs and their partner’s mental health problems during pregnancy and in the period following the birth of a baby. These perinatal mental health issues affect 1 in 5 women and can include anxiety, depression or more severe illness like post-partum psychosis, which can have a devastating effect on families if left untreated. It is also common for new parents to feel a sense of anxiety, which can lead to fathers becoming depressed, particularly if their partner suffers from perinatal mental health problems or where they feel unable to cope.

Consultant Obstetrician and Senior Responsible Officer for the Local Maternity System Dhushy Mahendran says: “We are committed to continually improving the maternity experience for families in Gloucestershire so that every child gets the best start in life, so we are delighted to support this fantastic new resource.

“Traditionally, lots of information, advice and support is female-focused, but partners can feel equally unsure or overwhelmed. DadPad is designed to reduce anxiety in a number of ways, for example, by helping dads gain confidence by getting involved with their baby’s care, as well as learning how to create a strong bond and build stronger family relationships. It also provides links to trusted sources of information and advice.

“We expect that it will enable new dads to play an active role in helping improve the health and wellbeing outcomes families in the county.”

Mark Gale, Chief Executive at Gloucestershire Gateway Trust said: “Young new dads sometime feel isolated as they step into the new world of parenting . We know the value of getting people connected to local support options. That’s why we’ve been delighted to support the DadPad.”

The Peter Lang Trust said: “The Peter Lang Children’s Trust is pleased to be associated with the launch of DadPad in Gloucestershire. The Trust has always encouraged those we support in the voluntary sector to engage with fathers as much as possible, recognising how important they are to the social and emotional development of their children.”

DadPad creator Julian Bose, Director of Inspire Cornwall CIC says: “The DadPad was created because babies don’t come with a set of instructions and dads told us that there was important information that they wanted to be given on what to expect and how to care for their baby. We listened to what dads, their partners and health professionals asked for and combined it all in the DadPad.

“With technology playing such a big part in everyone’s lives today, developing an app seemed an obvious step. This has opened up a world of possibilities in delivering content and features and, crucially, getting updates and news out to dads quickly and easily.”

The app has been funded by two charities, Gateway and the Peter Lang Trust, along with Better Births Gloucestershire and will be rolled out immediately. DadPad can be downloaded for free by going to the App Store or Google Play Store, and entering a Gloucestershire postcode when prompted. A limited number of hard copy versions will be shared with people who are unable to access online resources.

The developers of DadPad are working on a version for same-sex couples, which should be available later this year.