TRANSITION TO FATHERHOOD
Becoming a father is a life changing event. Try to attend antenatal classes if at all possible to prepare yourself for the challenges ahead!
- You now have another person’s needs to consider. You may feel proud and fulfilled to become a father
- You may feel your partner has less time for you and is focused only on meeting the baby’s needs
- You are experiencing feelings you didn’t expect. Feelings of overwhelming love and the need to protect your new baby and your partner
- Feeling tired and new priorities in life
- Perhaps financial hardship due to loss of an income and cost of caring for a baby. This can cause more stress and anxiety for the family
- Family and friends visiting more often to see the baby, or perhaps feeling isolated if family live far away
- Your partner may be struggling in similar ways to adapt to motherhood. She may become tearful and low at times – needing more emotional support
- Mixed feelings and emotions are very normal following the birth of a baby
New fathers can develop depression in the antenatal or postnatal period and this is not uncommon. Younger men and families with low incomes may be more vulnerable to depression. If your partner is depressed you are also more likely to suffer from depression.
No one can be sure why this happens, but life changing events can trigger these emotions. It is also known that if you have previously suffered from depression or emotional issues you will be more at risk of developing depression.
What can you do about it?
- Admit there is something not right, this is the first step to getting better
- Talk to your partner, a trusted friend or other family member about how you are feeling
- See your GP to discuss how you feel and treatment options available
- Self-help measures such as a healthy diet and regular exercise can be beneficial. Try to cut down on alcohol or avoid completely as this can lead to further depression
- Focus on the positive aspects of being a new father
- Get plenty of rest. Ask family and friends for practical help if needed
- Share parenting with your partner. Support each other
- Seek local support groups or websites that can help. Your local children’s centre may have a group for new fathers. Sharing being a new dad with other dads can help
- Talk to your health visitor
- Try and maintain hobbies and interests where possible, allowing for the changes in demands on your time now
Other organisations and sources of help and information
National Childbirth Trust
Your Health Visitor/GP
Babies Aloud DVD, available on Amazon. Marce Society. Focuses on Fathers and Post natal depression.