NHS maternity services are disadvantaging children by shutting out fathers at their birth, say an independent think tank.
The Fatherhood Institute say a father’s presence at birth can have profound extra benefits for child and parents, but most men are not encouraged to get involved.
Maternity services aimed at fathers are discretionary and do not systematically engage with them, they say.
The Institute would like midwives to be trained to engage with fathers, and a national programme with free study days to be set up on this topic.
It would also like the NHS to produce a clear definition of the father’s role at birth.
Fatherhood Institute CEO Duncan Fischer said: “Research clearly shows that the positive involvement of fathers right from the start is crucial; and that when professionals engage with fathers, particularly young or otherwise vulnerable dads, this makes a huge difference to mother and baby.
“Currently we don’t ask questions if a father fails to show for the antenatal appointment or doesn’t sign the birth certificate. If things are going to change, we have to start sending both mums and dads very different signals.”