Let's focus on Dad...
“How’s Mum? Mum and baby well?”, “Everything OK with Mum?”, “New Mum? – How are things?”
It’s no secret that becoming a new mum can be a roller coaster whilst adjustments are made to life with a tiny human. Sore nipples, leaking breasts, sleepless nights, guilt doubt, overwhelming love, happiness, anxiety, the list of emotions is endless. However, over the years we have become far better at recognising when mums may be struggling emotionally and have a wealth of services all designed to care for maternal mental health.
But what about partners? How often do we ask about them? How often do we stop to consider the massive changes that have occurred in their life? Rarely! And, astonishingly, nowhere in our official maternity care guidelines does it mention the wellbeing of partners.
Things definitely need to change, and slowly we are becoming more aware of the need to address fathers’ and partners’ mental health and wellbeing as they adapt to parenthood. However, until major changes are made in care provision, it is important that as expectant mums we consider, both in pregnancy and after the arrival of your newborn, that you ask how your other half is doing.
For many years women have dryly rolled their eyes and supported each other with tales of woe that their partners are unexpectedly falling short of the mark, but we forget that they are learning too and at the same time as holding down a job, worrying about finances, worrying about the new mum in the house, not to mention making copious cups of tea for every Tom, Dick and Harry that walks through the door. Are they told they never change a nappy, only to be moved out of the way when they do it wrong? Are they beginning to feel like a third wheel as you bond with your new best friend?
Research now suggests that for every mother that is diagnosed with postnatal depression, 50% of fathers will also be suffering – with no official support! So, for the Dads reading this here are a few boltholes where you can go for support until our services catch up:
Becoming parents is the most wonderful experience but as with anything that is worthwhile and reaps rewards, it is not without its challenges. Anticipating them during pregnancy and ensuring that you keep checking in on each other in the weeks and months following the arrival of your baby will help to keep everyone that little bit happier.
The 22nd June marked International Fathers Mental Health Day #DadsMHDay