After having a baby, everyone asks how the mother is doing: “Are you feeling okay?”, “are you eating well?”, “how’re you coping?”.
Even the midwives and health visitors make sure the mother is doing okay, and the doctors at the six-week check-up. It’s understandable them asking, your bodies just gone through a painful experience, your emotions are all over the place (and I mean all over the place), but nobody asks how the father is doing.
Well, what about dad?
Around 1 in 10 new dads suffer from Postnatal Depression (PND) in the first 3 to 6 months of the babies life, with a heightened risk of suffering from PND when in your twenties.
It affects dads in the same way it affects mums, with some of the signs being:
- Socialising less
- Loss of appetite
- Feeling anxious or worried
- Lack of energy
- Change in sleep patterns/ struggling to sleep
The hardest thing is admitting that you aren’t feeling yourself and that you need that extra support. Just be honest with yourself, no one will judge you if you need it and you won’t be the only person to ever feel that way.
There’s an expectation after you’ve had a baby that everything has to be fine. You’re meant to be on cloud-nine, struggling with the sleepless nights but smiling through it because it’s all worth it – you have a baby. But it is hard, and no one is happy 24/7 after having a baby.
Emotions are high for both mum and dad, nights are sleepless, everything is different. Relationships with family and friends change – you have new priorities and expectations.
Most of the time, the dad struggles as they feel that they can’t help their partner as they feel they’re doing things wrong because mum takes things the wrong way because of they are really hormonal.
Dads also struggle with building relationships with their babies. If the mum is breastfeeding, often dads feel useless in the night (sometimes in the day too) as they can’t help feed the baby. But there are other ways to bond, such as going for short walks or going to baby massage classes to relax your baby.
Twenty-five-year-old Tony Crone, Liverpool, suffered from postnatal depression after his daughter Elizabeth was born in 2014.
“I have good days and bad days,” he says, “but I just felt like I was failing. It’s just something nobody talks about though.”
He has since set up a website with his wife, Mel, called the PND Daddies, to help support other dads and provide them with a place they can go to for support and information.
You, mum and dad, are so precious to your baby and he/she loves you more than you know. It’s hard, but never feel useless because as long as your baby is loved and happy, you’re not doing anything wrong.
Just make sure you and your partner are okay.
So mums, if your health visitor or midwife forgets to ask how your babies dad is doing, give them a little reminder, or ask the dad how he’s doing too during one of the visits.
It’s okay not to be okay after having a baby. Make sure you both, (mum and dad) ask each other how they’re doing and reassure each other that they’re doing a great job. It’s hard to look after a newborn, never mind when you don’t feel yourself, so make sure you or your partner are okay and get the support/help you need.
Don’t be afraid to ask – just because you might need some support, doesn’t mean you’re doing a bad job at all, you’re doing great.