A NATIONAL campaign to help dads navigate the early months of their partner's pregnancy, birth of their child and first year of life is gaining traction in Bendigo.
The SMS4dads program was developed at the University of Newcastle and piloted in NSW before gaining national funding from the Department of Health last year.
Almost 50 men from Greater Bendigo have signed up to receive free SMS communication from the program which helps them figure out what to do when the baby is coming.
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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dads can sign up for a unique set of messages designed especially for First Nations dads.
The Bendigo and District Aboriginal Co-operative (BDAC) spokeswoman Kim said the program would be promoted through the local health service.
"It's really important to equip our people to be the best they can be," she said.
"We are here to support our dads and families and we think it's great when something is developed specifically for Aboriginal people," she said.
BDAC has several men's programs, including Merrijig Mooroopook, which translates to healthy spirits, and a men's shed.
University of Newcastle SMS4dads spokeswoman Louie Hahn said the program was being promoted on Bendigo radio and in other regional centres.
"We have reached 10,000 dads over the life of the project so far," she said.
"There is a focus on regional and rural dads because we know they don't have as much available to them as urban dads (in metropolitan centres).
"When they sign up they enter the details of how many weeks pregnant their partner is and they are sent messages that are directly relevant to age of their baby."
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Ms Hahn said the messages were designed to begin at 12 weeks into the pregnancy.
"What we found was that the number one influence on a woman - whether she stays healthy and gets medical support when she's pregnant - is her partner," she said.
"But there isn't much out there that speaks directly to dads. And what we found was that the dads who have taken part in it were really really grateful to have something that was for them.
"SMS4dads supports men in their role as fathers and increases awareness of their influence on baby's brain development. It also helps fathers understand and connect with their baby and partner. It also checks in on their wellbeing and offers professional support if needed."
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