Dads and Postpartum Mental Health

I asked a panel of dads what they remember bestsellers about having a newborn and their advice to a new dad. Here are their answers.Allow me to state the obvious for a moment here: Being a new parent is hard! It doesn’t matter if you are a mom or a dad, if you are single or married, or what your support system is like – being a new parent is hard. Today we are going to focus on dads. If you are an expecting father yourself, you may be worried that your whole world is about to be flipped upside down! Well, it likely is, but that doesn’t need to send you into a panic. In this post, 6 dads will share their stories and advice for surviving the newborn phase. 

The first few days…and weeks…and months..and probably years after your baby is born will come with a steep learning curve. You will have to adjust to a new routine and a new family member, while taking care of your recovering partner and getting very little sleep. Dads can easily get overwhelmed by the stress and pressure of transitioning into parenthood.

While you are taking care of your family, make sure that you are taking care of yourself as well. Take the time to talk with your baby’s mother about how she is feeling and how you are feeling. Most likely, the people around you will be focused on her, but that doesn’t mean that you need to ignore your own mental health.

I am going to keep this post light and encouraging, so we will skirt over serious mental health care. If you are experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression, I urge you to talk to a healthcare provider. That’s right, dads can have PPD too. For more info on dads and postpartum depression head over to the Postpartum Health Alliance

Now, here is what my panel of dads had to share:

I asked a panel of dads what they remember bestsellers about having a newborn and their advice to a new dad. Here are their answers. Kyle

My own husband was the first person that I asked of course. He is the dad to our 8-month-old boy, and works full-time as an Emergency Medical Dispatcher.

Did you take any time off work when your baby was born?

I had originally planned on 2 weeks but added about half a week on to the end of it.

What do you remember thinking as you took your little one home for the first time?

I think the first thing I thought was something about how could I be ready to be a dad.  Followed by how excited I was to sleep in my own bed. I also thought “holy cow this is mine.”

What was your favorite part of the newborn phase?

Probably how much they just want to be held and cuddled.

What was the hardest part of being a new dad?

Trying to balance the baby’s needs and moms needs with my own sleep and work schedule.

Now that you’re an expert, what advice do you have for first-time dads? 

Don’t let someone else tell you what is right.  You will know what is best for your baby.

 

I asked a panel of dads what they remember bestsellers about having a newborn and their advice to a new dad. Here are their answers. David

My cousin David is a stay at home dad to a sweet 9-month-old little boy.

Did you take any time off work when your baby was born?

I was on summer break when my son was born, and I quit my job on his due date, so yes!

What do you remember thinking as you took your little one home for the first time?

Before he was born I would have thought this was silly, but I was sooo careful driving home from the hospital. Babies may not be as fragile as you think, but that day I wanted to make extra sure everything would be okay.

What was your favorite part of the newborn phase?

It was great to be able to spend so much time with my family, both my wife and my new son. The month we had off together helped us figure out our new lives and settle in. We went on plenty of walks to get out of the house and help mom recover.

What was the hardest part of being a new dad?

The lack of sleep. Giving birth to a child is exhausting for both mom and dad. And then after that event your baby probably won’t sleep too long at night. We both felt like zombies for a while.

Now that you’re an expert, what advice do you have for first-time expecting daddies?

Be as supportive as you can to mom! She’s just gone through an intense experience and will need your help for everyday things. Then even beyond the first month, remember to stay involved with your baby–don’t let mom change all the diapers or rock them to sleep every night.

 

Tom

Tom is the father to four, ages 12, 10, 8, and 5. He works in marketing, communications, and PR. You can find him at Dadmarketing.com

Did you take any time off work when your baby was born?

1-2 days. Sadly, it was very minimal because it was very discouraged at my employer during that time.

What do you remember thinking as you took your little one home for the first time?  

Nervous on the short 1-mile car ride home, and scared — we were in charge of this baby 100 percent.  It was a big game changer, but a fantastic one.

What was your favorite part of the newborn phase?  

Holding her every chance I could get.  Reading her stories.  Taking her everyday places we take for granted — all for the first time.

What was the hardest part of being a new dad?  

Having to be apart from her for the majority of the day at work.  I’d have rather been a stay-at-home dad or work-from-home parent if I could have at the time.

Now that you’re an expert, what advice do you have for first-time expecting daddies?  

You’re no less qualified and competent than your wife, so trust your instincts.  Don’t let anyone make you feel like less of a parent just because you don’t physically give birth to the baby.  Let them know you’re in charge every bit as your spouse.

Anything else that you would like to add?

When I became a dad, I was amazed at how society makes dads feel like second-class parents:  doctor visits, marketing, movies, magazines, media — it’s everywhere.  But dads are equal, competent parents in every way, shape and form.

 

Eric

Eric is a friend of mine and father to one 19-month-old boy. He works as an accountant.

Did you take any time off work when your baby was born?

One week (kind of 7 days- Thurs, Fri & the following week)

What do you remember thinking as you took your little one home for the first time?  

It was very exciting to take Gray home for the first time. I think the biggest thought was do I have everything ready. Am I going to be able to handle this from here on out? The first two nights in the hospital were a bit of a challenge, as he cried a lot, so not having the nurses to help us was a bit nerve wracking, however, my wife is a pro when it comes to babies, so the transition wasn’t as difficult as it could have been.

What was your favorite part of the newborn phase?

Looking back now, I would say getting to just snuggle/hold him without a.) spoiling him b.) him trying to get away and be on the go. I don’t know if it was my favorite part, but it was also extremely important stage for learning as a new parent. If I had to start parenting at 19 months I would HAVE NO idea what I was doing.

What was the hardest part of being a new dad?

I think the hardest part was adjusting to life after a baby with my wife. There is a balancing act that we were all playing, and I think at the beginning stages Tori did a lot of the heavy lifting, which took a toll on her. As I got more comfortable and things started to slow down I think things definitely leveled off. It is no longer easy to manage the relationship, as you have someone that takes all attention and is more important than anything else.

Now that you’re an expert, what advice do you have for first-time expecting daddies?

Two things. One, enjoy every moment. It truly goes by extremely quick and it is such a wonderful feeling to know you are impacting this little ones life every day. Second, routines are your best friend. It is not always easy, but following the same routine pays dividends in the long run. The initial stages are not always pretty, but when your little one starts sleeping thru the night, or is no longer using their pacifier it feels like you are accomplishing something as a parent. Part of the routine that I would recommend to everyone is reading. That is a personal opinion, but I can see how much it has impacted Gray and I am so happy that we started reading to him when he was a few weeks old. He is a sponge, and it is your job to teach him as much as possible and it amazes me what that kid knows.

Paul

Paul is an IT consultant and father to a 2 and a half year old girl. He is also the write of The Unexpected Dad

Did you take any time off work when your baby was born?  

Yes, I took off 2 weeks when my daughter was born.

What do you remember thinking as you took your little one home for the first time?  

I was pretty well freaked out.  We were not ready to leave the hospital and I felt like I didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing.  Once we got in the car and started driving home from the hospital, the responsibility of having my baby daughter in the car hit me.   I must have been driving 20 MPH all the way home, hands clutched on the wheel and slowing down or stopping at every intersection even if the light was green.

I remember we got home and I looked at my wife and said “Now what?”

What was your favorite part of the newborn phase?  

Just the wonder of having this new little person in our house with us.  Those first few weeks were great (yet challenging for sure); our focus was completely on our daughter.  The three of us were basically spending 24 hours a day together, it was awesome.

What was the hardest part of being a new dad?  

A feeling of being unprepared and ill-equipped for this new responsibility.  Not matter how many books I read and no matter how much advice I was given, it seems inadequate when reality hit.  But the very hardest part is when your child gets sick and you don’t know what to do to make it better.

Now that you’re an expert, what advice do you have for first-time expecting daddies?  

  • Get advice and read books, but realize that when you actually have your baby at home, you need to go with your gut.  You know your child better than anyone else and your first instinct is probably correct.
  • Be prepared to do more household chores than you have done in the past.  You will have to pick up extra duties after the baby is born.
  • Go out on extra dates with your wife before the baby is born.  You priorities will shift 180 degrees once the baby is home and time alone together will be a precious commodity.
  • You WILL freak out at some point.  It’s ok.  You will get through it, after all you’re the Dad.
  • Embrace being a father 100%.  Your hobbies, time with your buddies and alone time will suffer, but nothing is more important than your child and your family.  Those other things can be picked back up again later.
  • There will be very challenging things to deal with but try to savor every moment, they will only happen once.

Craig

Craig is a friend/co-worker of mine. He is a sound engineer and dad to a 15-year-old girl and 12-year-old boy.

Did you take any time off work when your baby was born? 

I did not take time off. There were days with no work and my mother in law came over to help.
What do you remember thinking as you took your little one home for the first time?  

My first thought was lets celebrate and drink.

What was your favorite part of the newborn phase? 
There really wasn’t any favorite part of the new born stage. Maybe the last day of that stage

What was the hardest part of being a new dad? 
Hardest part of being a new dad is learning to multi task according to the baby schedule
Now that you’re an expert, what advice do you have for first-time expecting daddies? 

Advice I would give. Sleep when they sleep and help mom as much as possible with night time feedings. you’ll be well rewarded.
Time goes by so fast be there for them.

If you’re looking for more information, check out this list of books for expecting parents. Being as prepared as possible will never hurt!

 

Do any expert dads out there have tips to add? Tell me in the comments below!

I asked a panel of dads what they remember bestsellers about having a newborn and their advice to a new dad. Here are their answers.
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49 thoughts on “Dads and Postpartum Mental Health

  1. Dads matter too. I did a post on this recently too and dads can have trouble adjusting to parenthood just as much as mum’s! Nice to see others focusing on it too x
    #TriumphantTales

  2. The first time I heard of male PPD was an episode of Desperate Housewives and I thought “wow would never have thought of that”…when I was getting close to my due date I had an epiphany; I have had nine months of getting used to the idea that my body and my choices have an impact to my twins and the weight of that responsibility, while a new dad is handed a baby and told this is yours care for it. I really enjoyed the post and whether it is mom or dad PPD or anxiety it should be discussed more.

    • I haven’t really seen it discussed much in the media at all! I think a lot of people write PPD off as “oh, it’s the hormones.” Yes, that obviously is a big part of a woman’s mental state postpartum, but bringing a baby into the family is a huge life change. Any huge life change comes with the risk of straining a person’s mental health and causing depression or anxiety.
      You are right – we should talk about it.
      Thanks for reading, Kim!

  3. I absolutely loved reading this! It’s so sweet to hear from the dad’s point of view. I want to ask my husband these questions just to have somewhere!

    • Oh, that’s a great idea! I feel like moms are always the ones to fill out the baby books. I should have my husband help as well. 🙂

  4. It is really great that dads are getting an opportunity to have a voice and I love that more dad bloggers are appearing every day. In Holland I must say there is far more equality in parenting. Thank you for linking up to #ablogginggoodtime 🎉

    • Thank you for reading! Unfortunately, when it comes to parental privileges, it seems like the US is quickly falling behind. 🙁

  5. I think it’s wonderful that you focused on the dads too. I was sad to see that they couldn’t take off a lot of time. My husband was able to take 6 weeks off paid, and it was such a big help. Kudos to these dads. They sound so supportive.

    • Wow! That’s awesome that he was able to do that. My husband used up his PTO and ended up paid about half of his normal wage for two weeks.

  6. Nice article. My hubby definitely had/has some PPD from the birth of our baby (she’s now 7wks). He was the BEST birth partner through labor, but when she arrived he quickly found out that she was “all instinct”. He didn’t have a lot of experience with young babies, as an only child. He also never babysat. I think he thought she was going to come out smiling and laughing at all his jokes.
    After an experience of trying to soothe her when she was overtired and cranky, he told me he had “no connection with her”. Hearing that absolutely broke my heart. I was hoping to read in this article an instance in which another new father shared this view. I asked him to talk to his father/buddies about it, but I think he doesn’t want them to think he’s just cold.
    Since she started smiling, he’s warmed up to her more. I also have him bottle feeding her breastmilk once a day. Hopefully with time, they’ll connect and be the daddy-daughter duo I always hoped they’d be.

    • I am so sorry to hear about his difficulties, but I appreciate you sharing!
      I think you are on to something with her smiling – babies start off a lot of work for no reward. They don’t bond, they don’t appreciate, they just don’t seem to care that you’re there. She will be getting more and more loving, and I’m sure that will make him feel better. Our 8-month-old just beams when his dad walks in the room now. Yesterday I kept telling him “mama” and he just went “da da da da da da” until my husband came back in from the kitchen.

      I’m sure his friends will relate more than he thinks!! If he’s embarrassed to talk to them, maybe his dad or a professional can help. I’ll pray for your family to find happiness. <3

  7. Really interesting reading a dad’s perspective! I like how you interviewed the different kinds of dads too, working Vs stay at home. The sleep part is so hard, I remember my other half holding his eye lids open at dinner one night lol I was sitting on the other side of the table like, “it’s okay let’s just both go to bed now lol” thanks for sharing with #GlobalBlogging!

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