We have been talking to young fathers, midwives, health visitors and social workers in Lambeth and Southwark about the idea of having a free phone app that supports fathers through pregnancy and early parenthood.

The idea has been very positively received, in fact we have found that there is an even greater need for support for fathers during pregnancy and parenthood than for mothers.

Mums generally have an extensive support network and lots of resources compared to dads.  Dads don’t necessarily want to engage in group support and find it difficult to discuss pregnancy and parenting with their mates.

St Michael’s Fellowship in Lambeth helped us to set up interviews and a focus group with young fathers that they are supporting. The dads we spoke to want to be involved in their partners’ pregnancy and to share parenting, but are anxious about becoming a father.  They worry about how it will change their relationship with their partner and unclear as to their role throughout pregnancy and as a parent. 

They said they can feel isolated without friends or family to turn to and are often ignored or treated dismissively by healthcare professionals. Dads are often treated like the perpetrator and they worry that they will be ridiculed or criticised for their ignorance.  An app would give dads the privacy they want to explore the new world of parenthood.

They said they prefer film and graphics to lots of text and want an app that is interactive with an element of gaming. 88% of this age group have smartphones and they keep them with them 24/7.  For them an app is a familiar, relevant an accessible medium which they prefer to leaflets, books, internet or even face-to-face communication.

We also spoke to health visitors, midwives and social workers in Lambeth and Southwark, who were all very positive about the idea of an app for dads.  They stressed the benefits of an engaged dad who can provide valuable support for his partner during a time of emotional and physical stress. 

They said that dads can reassure their partner as her appearance changes and encourage her to have a healthier pregnancy, attending appointments, eating healthily and giving up smoking.  Dads can also recognise the danger signs of not coping or post natal depression. Dads are more likely to remain in the relationship if included, involved and valued from the start.

We are very excited by the initial feedback on our idea. We're currently seeking funding to take this project forward and look forward to working with fathers, midwives, health visitors and social workers on this project.