Births may be on the decline, but boot camp for new dads is on the rise!
The National Center for Health Statistics released data from 2016 that shows the national fertility rate for women between 15 and 44 years old is 62 births per 1,000 women, while Arizona’s is historically low at 63.9.
While birth rates are decreasing, there are still plenty of babies making their grand appearance, and plenty of first-time parents worried about everything from changing diapers to teething and everything in between. It can be overwhelming and challenging for expectant parents to prepare for the arrival of their bundle of joy, and while mothers can depend on their maternal instincts to take over, many men are nervous about their inexperience. While most men are excited about fatherhood, many don’t have the same experience caring for infants that women may have from being a big sister or babysitting.
That’s where Flagstaff Medical Center comes in. They are offering an innovative program called Boot Camp for New Dads. Here, the men-only atmosphere gives dad’s a comfortable, safe environment in which they can ask questions, express their fears and concerns, and garner a more realistic perspective on what to expect and what to do. The program helps new dads feel ready and confident for their little ones to arrive.
The childbirth education team at Flagstaff Medical Center leads the program, with labor delivery nurses often at the forefront. The Flagstaff program is part of the wildly successful nationwide effort, with more than 300,000 “graduates.” There are 260 programs in 45 states, and even those stationed on U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force bases have the chance to participate in the largest program for dads in the country.
After almost three decades, Boot Camp for New Dads continues to gain momentum and strengthen the institution of fatherhood in the United States. Dads learn about holding and comforting a real baby, burping, changing, swaddling, calming crying infants and much more. Veteran dads who have “graduated” from the program often attend with their newborns, using them as a real-life example for what to do and how to do it.
Most men attend the workshop in the two months leading up to their baby’s arrival. They can ask questions and get advice from veterans who are happy to share their own experiences and provide hands-on time feeding, holding and changing babies.
Flagstaff’s Boot Camp is facilitated by an experienced father and coach who address a variety of issues, including forming a parenting team, safety, preventing child abuse, work hours, bonding, dealing with relatives and much more. Lessons place an emphasis on the tremendous support new mothers need from fathers.
- How to navigate their transformation into fatherhood.
- Ways to form a healthy parenting team with their partner.
- Steps to create a safe home environment for their new family.
- Helping breastfeeding moms.
- Balancing work hours and baby time.
- Handling household pets that may be confused by a tiny, new family member.
- Bonding with their children.
- Signs and symptoms of postpartum depression.
- Trusting their instincts
- Communication and patience with their new family.
- Raising happy, healthy babies.
Veterans of the program say they learn new skills and develop more confidence and enthusiasm for future fatherhood. This new and improved attitude helps them work closely with their partners to create a happy, safe home environment for their new baby.
Flagstaff Medical Center offers Boot Camp for New Dads every other month, and you can find out more by visiting the official website or calling the NAH Education Department at 928-773-2491.
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