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New group says bottoms up to fatherhood
THE world of parenthood can be something of a minefield for new fathers.
So to help navigate it – over a friendly pint – one Oxford man has set up a group aimed at giving new fathers and dads-to-be a chance to share their experiences.
The group, Babies and Beer, met for the first time at the Port Mahon in St Clement’s Street last week and will start in earnest on Wednesday at 6.30pm.
Rich Heap, 28, who lives in East Oxford, is expecting his first child on April 22.
He said: “Throughout the pregnancy there have been antenatal services and information but it all seemed very much geared towards the woman, as is natural. There was nothing specifically for men so I decided to do something.”
Five prospective dads and one father of a nine-week-old baby attended the first session, but Mr Heap hopes more people will come as word gets out.
He said: “We did end up talking more about baby stuff than I was expecting. A lot of it was to do with what our partners were going through and how best to support them.”
He said he hoped members of the group would be able to share information about the practical side of parenting.
Mr Heap, a business researcher, said: “I think there is a bit of a gap in support for people approaching fatherhood from a practical perspective.
“I’m talking about things like first aid for babies and young children, and practical things like how to put in car seats properly.
“It is the practical side that men maybe respond to – men don’t necessarily like to sit around talking about their feelings.”
He said he was also keen to share tips on where to get baby items cheaply, and advice on finance such as paternity leave and what different families are entitled to.
He said: “You can’t experience the pregnancy first hand but these are things we could be doing in preparation.”
He said his wife Jess’s pregnancy had gone smoothly so far and the couple planned to have the birth at the delivery suite at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital.
The group will meet fortnightly at the Port Mahon and all dads-to-be and dads of babies up to the age of two were welcome, or older if they feel they would benefit from the support.