Partners Get PND Too

dad hugging newborn baby

As an expectant mother, you are given a midwife, you’ll attend classes from hypnobirthing to antenatal, pregnancy yoga to bumps and babies, get support before, during and after, particularly through any spells of anxiety or PND. But what about dads? What is out there for them during this huge change in their life?

Going into labour, there’s midwives, nurses, doctors, consultants and more for mum. They focus entirely on your care and wellbeing during those hours of labour. Whether it’s vaginal or caesarean, the focus is on mum and baby, and rightly so. But what is it like to be a new dad or partner of someone giving birth? Having asked a few partners about this topic, many of them said the same thing…

“I felt utterly useless!”

“Newborns are so small and fragile”.

“My wife is always crying and shouting at me, and I don’t know what to do”.

“There’s love but so much fear at the same time”.

“Our lives have changed so much, and my mood has totally changed since baby’s arrival, but I don’t know how to ask for support”.

Almost all dads and partners were glad when the newborn stage was over. They felt overwhelmed and didn’t have a baby group to chat to others about how they felt. A few of the dads who were stay-at-home-dads or part-timers really focused on the loneliness of those days, much like mums do.

If your partner goes quiet, or when they disappear in front of your eyes, or start working late, please start that conversation.

Because partners can get a form of PND too.

Partners can often also feel overwhelmed and unprepared but have little to no support network as everything is typically about the mum and baby. As much as dad wants to be involved, he can lose his role a little and, if we are all quite honest, us new mums can be shouty, teary, tired, and hormonal after birth and partners can't always cope with everything all at once.

Get them to talk to their doctor or health visitor, whether it be days later or even months later, as PND can manifest itself at any point in that first year and beyond. It can sideswipe them from nowhere or it can be a slow creeping thing. Don’t be embarrassed to seek help or encourage him to do so. The gamut of emotions is real and both particular to him and yet shared by many too.

Many other partners struggle during the perinatal​ period with their mental health and early prevention is key for yourself, your partner, your family and the development​ of your child.​

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Changes in Behaviour to Look for:

  • Substance abuse
  • Anger
  • Avoiding situations
  • Physical​ health problems
  • Personality changes
  • Seemingly distant

Risk Factors:

  • Fathers witnessing a traumatic birth.
  • Fathers with​ undiagnosed​ disorders or existing mental health issues.
  • Lack of sleep.​
  • Adverse childhood experiences.
  • Partner with postnatal depression.
  • Financial​ worries & isolation.

Top Five Tips​ for Managing Mental Health

1. Speak with someone or a professional. It will not impact on their employment - it's a problem if it's affecting your whole family. Early prevention means a quicker recovery.

2. Exercise and healthy eating are important​.

3. Sleep is vital for good mental health - there are consultants in this field​ that can help as well as lots of information online.​

4. Baby massage, skin to skin and being in tune with your baby will be of benefit to you too.

5. Communication with your partner and joint hobbies which will stop feelings of isolation during the transition of parenthood​.

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