New dads missing out on vital safe sleep advice due to COVID restrictions: 'It's critical they be prioritised'

Picture: Supplied
Picture: Supplied 

There are fears new dads are missing out on vital safe sleep information due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Red Nose Australia has conducted a survey of new and expectant dads and found that two thirds were not being given any professional advice around safe sleeping measures for their baby. This, they said, is especially worrying given more dads were working from home and therefore taking on a larger caring role.?

The information gap was largely due to restrictions prohibiting dads from attending antenatal appointments, where safe sleeping is often first discussed with parents-to-be.?

Speaking with 120 men across Australia, they found as many as 60 per cent of dads had not been able to attend even a single antenatal appointment.

This had led to 65 per cent saying they hadn't had any safe sleep advice from a health professional, while the same number reported feeling 'very' or 'somewhat' worried about SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).

RNA said it was crucial new dads be properly informed, particularly during the current COVID?'baby boom', which in some areas such as Victoria, has seen hospital birth bookings spike by 35 per cent. ?

One dad who said he felt like he was 'in the background' through much of his wife's pregnancy care is Antish?Prayagsing, from Melbourne, whose wife Nishty?gave birth to their daughter Brielle Athea four months ago.?

The first time dad said he'd had to spend many of the first appointments, including ultrasounds, FaceTiming?with his wife and their obstetrician from the car. While he's grateful this still allowed him to be involved, he said it put a barrier between feeling as if he could ask as many questions as he may otherwise have.?

The couple had also enrolled in hypnobirthing classes at a Melbourne hospital, which were cancelled due to the pandemic. Though Nishty was able to find a private provider, due to restrictions he was unable to attend with her.?

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Picture: Antish was advised of safe sleeping practices for his newborn daughter through Red Nose Australia

Picture: Antish was advised of safe sleeping practices for his newborn daughter through Red Nose Australia

"I did feel sort of let's say, not left out, but I did feel I was missing information, because babies don't come with a?manual, and you've got to figure things out yourself. And with this system, with the support of the midwife and OB, you try to grasp as much as you can but not being able to attend most of the appointments, I felt like I was missing out," he told Essential Baby.

"Even?though my wife was there and she relayed it to me. But it's never 100 per cent of the information that way, it's maybe 60-70 per cent."

Saying he'd wanted to be very hands on from the start, this made it challenging to try to work things such as swaddling and bathing their daughter more challenging, until he rang the RNA's Safe Sleep Advice Line?for support. Among the details they shared was the importance of using a firm mattress, putting Brielle to sleep on her back and keeping the cot free from toys or other bedding. And how to check if she was too hot or cold.?

As the couple have no family nearby for support and did not have a midwife visit their home as part of their postnatal care, this was their only source for this information, he said. Adding more needs to be provided to first time parents.?

"We're all new to it. There definitely needs to be some more information available and ready to go for parents. I know there are apps - which I have been using, but if you don't look into it you don't know. ANd I think a lot of people won't look into it, they want the information to come to them. More concrete information would really be helpful."?

"All those things we don't know, but that needs to be available for us dads to know... it needs to be available and ready."

In Australia, nine babies are lost each day to stillbirth, SIDS and fatal sleeping accidents and NRA CEO?Keren Ludski?agreed dads played a vital role in ensuring safe sleep.?

"We know how to keep babies safe, but only if the message gets through," she said.?"When mums-to-be are attending all pregnancy-related appointments alone, they are receiving so much information that it's unlikely they would pass all of it onto their partner."

"But we know that dads are getting more involved in newborn care than ever before, so it's critical that they are?prioritised?for newborn safe sleep messages too."

The organsiation's annual fundraiser will take place nationally on August 13.?