The last couple of months here at The Natal Family have been very exciting! Last month we saw the publication of The His and Hers Guide to Pregnancy and Birth by our very own founders Steph and Dean Beaumont, and on the 7th July we celebrate the launch of DaddyNatal Online, by Dean Beaumont, in conjunction with Penguin Random House.
DaddyNatal was originally created by Dean in response to his experience becoming a father for the first time 8 years ago – feeling somewhat unprepared for the birth of his first son, despite attending antenatal classes and reading books, Dean started the DaddyNatal programme to support dads to be the best birth partners and fathers they can be.
But let’s hear from Dean how the DaddyNatal online project was born and what is so good about it…
Q.: “Dean, when did you first have the idea about creating DaddyNatal online and what problem were you trying to address with this project?”
Dean: “Every project we launch at The Natal Family has a lot of time, thought and trialling first put in to make sure it is right before going live – and this project was certainly no different.
DaddyNatal Online had been an idea of ours for a number of years, but I first started working on it seriously and discussing the concept with a few different potential partners in May 2014. In November 2014, I had my first discussions with Penguin Random House about the project and we continued to work on the idea, proposals and details for it throughout 2015.
After the publication of ‘The Expectant Dad’s Handbook’ in 2013 I was getting increasing numbers of requests each month for classes from around the UK and beyond, which sadly were simply not possible for me to fulfill. I had also had numerous dads say that they loved the book but wanted further DaddyNatal resources to use to help them to continue to prepare. I also knew of dads who didn’t feel comfortable (for various reasons) to attend a group class but wanted to be able to access the information we cover in them. And finally we also had many mums-to-be who wanted to sign their partner up for a class but were nervous he might not attend if they did. The idea of being able to make DaddyNatal classes accessible from someone’s own home, any time they wanted, to do in privacy if they wished, seemed like a great possible option to address all these issues.”
Q.: “So how will dads be able to access DaddyNatal Online and how long is the course? Does the online element mean that DaddyNatal is now going international and going beyond the UK borders?”
Dean: “Dads can access DaddyNatal Online simply by visiting www.daddynatalonline.com and signing up!
The course is split into 11 segments – each of which has a video to watch which gives you all the crucial information, and you can also watch each video as many times as you wish. Each segment also has other learning support materials alongside the videos, including downloads with key information on and quizzes to help dads check their learning as they go along.
Indeed, the beauty is that DaddyNatal Online can be accessed from anywhere. ‘The Expectant Dad’s Handbook’ sells the most copies in the UK, but its second biggest selling country is the US and its third is Lebanon! So it is very feasible than dads in those countries (and others) may also want to access the classes, which of course, until now, they couldn’t!“
Q.: “Tell us about the filming in London – how did it work, how long did it take and how did you find it?”
Dean: “Filming took place at the recording studios of Penguin Random House over January, February and March 2016. I have done a lot of media work before for numerous TV documentaries but presenting content direct to camera is certainly very different to giving an opinion, being filmed during a class or being interviewed!
This is also the first project of this type that Penguin Random House have worked on, so it has been a steep learning curve for us all! The first day of filming in particular gave all of us (the cameraman, the producer and myself!) a lot of learning points.
Filming DaddyNatal Online took place over 5 full days – which seems a lot when you consider a typical DaddyNatal workshop usually lasts 4 hours! But we needed to try different things to see what worked, and sometimes something unexpected demanded a retake – on one occasion a very loud rumbling tummy (mine!) meant that we had to reshoot a whole section as the mic picked it up!“
Q.: “We know that you LOVE the interaction with the Dads at your classes, so for you NOT to have dads in the room must have felt quite different. Do you think that the content of DaddyNatal Online differs to what you cover in your face-to-face classes?”
Dean: “It was incredibly different. Being on a set, talking to a camera lens which was literally a few inches from your face, with just two people silently watching was much more difficult than I thought it would be. But the production team at Penguin Random House are fantastic, and we worked together really well to find our flow with it all.
Some content may differ from classes, as obviously in a class if a dad asks a question then a different tangent and more personal element of discussion might take place. However, because every group of dads attending a DaddyNatal class is different anyway, I would say every DaddyNatal class is also therefore different. Having said that, I’m confident to say that our core content always stays the same, and it certainly does for DaddyNatal Online too.“
Q.: “One thing that has always been unique about DaddyNatal classes is that they were for dads only. Surely this project allows for women to watch the classes too – what do you want to say to mums who will be watching with or without their partners?”
Dean: “Absolutely, in the same way that The Expectant Dad’s Handbook was written based on the DaddyNatal classes and aimed at dads, it has a wide female readership too. So many women have written to me saying how useful they found reading the book, and from my point of view, if they also wish to watch and find the DaddyNatal Online programme helpful – then that’s fantastic.
It might work for some couples to watch the videos together, but equally it might work better for them to each watch them separately and then possibly discuss anything which might arise from them. Everyone learns differently, there is no right and wrong when it comes to working out how to make the Online programme work to help you prepare – if you both want to use it, just check with each other how you feel would best work for you, and take it from there.
For couples who do want to prepare together, our new book ‘This His and Hers Guide to Pregnancy and Birth’ would also make a great additional resource, as it is specifically aimed at a couple using it to prepare for their birth together, and it raises lots of possible discussion points and choices to consider along the way.“
Q.: “Will you still be running face-to-face DaddyNatal workshops for those lucky dads who are close enough to join your classes?”
Dean: “There will be some special one-off DaddyNatal workshops from time-to-time, but in addition to my work, I am crucially also a dad of four young children (aged between one and eight years old), so it is also important to me that I do not miss their childhoods by being away travelling to different parts of the country every weekend. I need to have time to also be a Daddy myself – after all, it was that journey which inspired the classes, the book and this new online programme! I also believe that my continued experiences as a father of young children help keep all the work we do at DaddyNatal very current and relevant to what my fellow expectant and new fathers of today are experiencing, so you can say that work and home are something of a closely interlinked circle!”
Q.: “And finally, what would you like to say to dads who will be choosing the DaddyNatal Online course?”
Dean: “Firstly, thank you for choosing DaddyNatal Online! I really hope you enjoy it, and if you want any additional support, or have any specific questions, please do contact me.
Secondly, and more importantly, congratulations for choosing to do everything you can to learn as much as possible about how to be the best partner and birth partner you can be. It is a great step, and it signals how seriously you are taking becoming a dad.
Take this opportunity to learn as much as you can and to feel as prepared as possible. Think about how YOU want to approach fatherhood. You don’t have to do it in the same ways that your friends or family did or do. You don’t have to fulfill certain stereotypes or expectations. You just need to find what feels right for you and your family. It is the start of a great journey. Even if this is not your first baby, it is still an opportunity to do something new or try different ways – the choice now is yours.”
Well, isn’t this just exciting? Here at The Natal Family we had been looking forward to this fantastic new project for a while, and it’s amazing to know that DaddyNatal classes and content will now be accessible to so many fathers and fathers-to-be.
Thank you Dean for taking the time to answer our questions, and we wish you the very best of luck with this fantastic project!