Parents At Work recognise that the Covid-19 pandemic may be causing unease for parents-to-be and new parents. As strong advocates for ‘sharing the care’, we believe this is even more pertinent in these challenging times. Richard Fletcher from SMS4dads has written an open letter for new fathers at this time. Dr Vijay Roach, President of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG), has also shared an informative video for pregnant women during Covid-19, which you can view below.

Letter from Richard Fletcher, SMS4dads Program for new fathers

Dear new or soon-to-be fathers,

Providing care and support to a pregnant mother and then discovering your fathering role within your new family is a challenging and important task, which has few guidelines. But protecting your family against Coronavirus will largely depend on how other people behave, so it may feel impossible for you to fully protect your family. Your income may take a hit and however hard you try, you won’t be certain how the economy will look in the future.

“So I’d guess that with so much fear worldwide, so many unanswered questions about the pandemic, you might be wondering how you will manage the workload and scary feelings that come with so many unknowns.”

You might be worried about the harm that can befall your developing baby if your partner becomes infected with coronavirus. We currently have no evidence that it can harm the baby. You might be worried about how you will keep working, and who will be there to do the caring if you develop symptoms and test positive. You might be making plans for family members and what you will do, but then find that you have to start again as hospitals change their rules and new restrictions are put in place. 

On top of your own worries you will also be tuning in to how the mother of your baby is coping emotionally and how your infant is feeling. That’s part of being a father. Sometimes that means shutting off your own fears and scary thoughts, ignoring that scrunched up feeling in your gut or your chest and getting on with it. But somewhere, you have to take care of yourself too.

No-one can tell you what to do in your situation but here are some tips that have come up through the SMS4dads program.

  1. Do things that we know help with stress. Get some exercise, cut down on the alcohol, eat proper food and talk to someone about what is happening.
  2. When you do talk to someone, tell them what’s going on inside you, not just what you are doing.
  3. Trust that health workers are doing their best for your partner, your baby and you. But speak up for what you need too.
  4. Spend time with your baby, even before they are born. Staying close while they figure out their world can be the best medicine of all.
  5. Start lining up support for all the things you might not be able to manage by yourself.
  6. If things get rough, if you cannot sleep or relax, if you are very sad and cannot enjoy anything… you are not alone! And none of this is your fault!

Here are three places you can call or contact. They have people to listen to you. They know about how dads can be struggling. They can help you get sorted.

Message to pregnant mothers from The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) have shared a comprehensive message for pregnant women and their families which you can read here. They state that while pregnancy is a time of great joy and expectation for most women and their families, following the declaration of the Covid-19 pandemic, RANZCOG understands that all pregnant women will feel a great sense of anxiety about their own health and that of their unborn or newborn baby. 

In the video below, RANZCOG President Dr Vijay Roach delivers an important message for pregnant women and their families.

“At a time when we’re concentrating on physical health, we need to remember that pregnant women are at higher risk of developing anxiety and depression. This can apply to your partner as well.” – Dr Vijay Roach