A free text message service is aiming to help better inform fathers-to-be as they support their partners through pregnancy, birth and in the first year of parenthood.
Murrumbidgee Local Health District is encouraging fathers and support people to sign up for the service which sends regular text messages with practical tips, information and links to help them better understand and connect with baby and partner.
Father-of-five Kevin Poulton said it "does get easier" the more children you have, but dads could still sometimes feel "obsolete" during the final stages of pregnancy and birth.
"Any help you can get as a father is great, we are pretty useless first time around, but even after you have had five like me, this service would be very useful to help giving prompts and reminders that you still play an important part in your child's life," he said.
"Once the baby is almost on the scene you feel a little bit obsolete, a little bit excluded, so without having to receive the gentle nudge from your partner, anything else to help you do the right thing is certainly a great thing to have."
NSW Health and the University of Newcastle have partnered to launch the SMS4dads service which will send a text message straight to the father, or support person's phone three times a week.
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MLHD Focus on New Father's project coordinator Melissa Smead said while many fathers were busy leading up to the birth of their child, meaning they can't always attend appointments or classes, almost all have a mobile phone.
"The program is about connecting dads with the baby at the same time as supporting the partner," she said.
"They will receive three messages a week and a check-in every three weeks which can point them towards programs available.
"For a long time researchers have recognised that quite often fathers miss out on the opportunity in regards to having a baby as it is quite challenging.
"The SMS messages are quite quirky, most of them are in a baby's voice, some things like 'talk to me about anything dad', as most fathers don't realise they can talk to their babies before birth."
Ms Smead said the service could also help support fathers through ante and post-natal depression.
"They have somewhere to go to, a lot don't reach out and ask for advice so this is an easy way to ensure they are supported," she said.
Fathers can sign up anywhere from week 16 of the pregnancy until 24 weeks post birth. To register or for more information visit sms4dads.com.au
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