Daddies, diapers and duty: Class teaches basic skills to new, fathers to be

Senior Airman Vincent Mione, 78th Operations Support Squadron air traffic controller, practices his diapering technique June 16 during the Dads 101 class at the 78th Medical Group. The next class will be offered August 24. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ray Crayton)

Senior Airman Vincent Mione, 78th Operations Support Squadron air traffic controller, practices his diapering technique June 16 during the Dads 101 class at the 78th Medical Group. The next class will be offered August 24. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ray Crayton)

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Becoming a father can be a daunting task. Bonding with other dads and soon-to-be dads makes it a bit easier.

In the Dads 101 class, taught at the 78th Medical Group, fathers and soon-to-be fathers learn things such as diapering, swaddling and how to bond with the baby once it is born.

"It is a prep for parenthood," said Master Sgt. Richard Reece, 78th Medical Group Mental Health Flight chief. Reece is also known as "dad."

Reece has been teaching the class to new fathers for six years. In the beginning, most men were forced to attend by their spouses. Now, Reece is seeing a genuine interest in men signing up on their own.

Staff Sgt. Andrew Speicher, Air Force Sustainment Center contracting officer, said the information he received about how the delivery process works was helpful.

"We learned from each other and had other dads throw in their two cents," Speicher said.

Twenty years ago, men were banished to a waiting room to wait out the delivery of their babies, said Reece. Now, men play an active role in the delivery room.

Reece told the group of 10 that they would know when their wives were in pain and could tell the doctor or nurses.

"You have to be an advocate for your spouse in all aspects," he said.

Each participant received a certificate of completion and a dark gray cloth messenger-type bag with a "Be Prepared, A Practical Handbook for New Dads" book as well as other items.

The practical part of the three-week course instructed dads on how to swaddle an infant, comfort a crying baby and how to change diapers. 

"You get a second diaper on the bottom, just in case of a blow out," said Senior Airman Vincent Mione, a 78th Operations Support Squadron air traffic controller, as he demonstrated the technique on an anatomically-correct doll.

Staff Sgt. Dustin Stewart, a unit deployment manager with the 461st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, was the swaddling expert of his group.

"You make sure you support their head and there's a burrito baby," he said, holding up the life-like doll swaddled tightly in a baby blue blanket.

With a baby girl due Oct. 14 his wedding anniversary, Lance Corp. David Canela, an administrative clerk with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron-773, said the class helped him with swaddling and also how to prevent shaken baby syndrome.

In the military world, there are also different kinds of issues that can happen, such as TDYs and deployments.

"We try to help cover any stress that comes with a new child as well as separations, which conflict with the bonding process," Reece said.