Saint Etienne. “Men can hear that when there is a baby, we can break down”

Saint Etienne.  “Men can hear that when there is a baby, we can break down”

They always attended the birth preparation sessions but it was as a couple. Never alone among men.

Except the 93 future fathers who volunteered to participate in a pilot initiative in the Loire department, launched in 2022 by the Naître et bien-être network.

For a year, from January to December 2022, six maternity wards in the Loire (1) hosted two-hour birth preparation sessions reserved exclusively for men. Sessions led by a psychologist and midwife pair, always with a man forming this pair.

“They consisted of offering these future fathers topics for discussion, pregnancy, childbirth, the couple, the relationship with the baby… but on the men’s side,” relates Mathilde Dublineau, doctor of psychology and director of the Naître et bien network. -be.

“They have different questions from women”

“Men are a bit alone with their doubts, their emotions, their worries,” she adds. “They have different questions that women may have during these workshops. » With a voice that can be freed and the need to share certain questions that they do not necessarily dare to address, such as the resumption of sexuality within the couple, the father-baby relationship.

A sign that the traditional pattern is being disrupted these days is the extension of paternity leave to 28 days. “The company has not planned to support men in this new family organization with a specific system,” observes Mathilde Dublineau. “Men today cannot rely on the previous generation and need help. »

The network knows the benefits of this pilot project: “Emotional support, strengthening of family ties, prevention of violence, reduction of gender inequalities. Men can then hear that when there is an infant in the house, we can break down, be on edge, irritable. They will know who to call if they feel overwhelmed. We know that domestic violence within a couple can appear at the time of the birth of the first child. »

“We must implement this approach at the national level”

The experiment ended, after a year, with a satisfaction survey produced by the network. Its results are real arguments in favor of implementing these preparations. What comes out of it?

“It’s a very good system that must continue,” said one. “It would take two sessions,” said another. “Being several dads was interesting to be able to discuss and ask questions,” says a third.

When questioned, health professionals considered it “100% relevant to establish this session”. Arguments that the Departmental Union of Family Associations (UDAF) of the Loire strives to put forward to the public authorities. “There is nothing designed for men,” insists Bertrand Vialatte, director of UDAF Loire. “It is time for politicians to recognize the importance of this approach and implement it at the national level. It really is a system for the future and support for parenthood.”

An approach that is easy to deploy, according to Mathilde Dublineau: “The staff, the premises, everything is already there. And the cost for Social Security would be modest. »

(1) The maternity wards of HPL, Saint-Étienne University Hospital, Roanne, Saint-Chamond, Montbrison and Firminy participated.

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