Dads’ and adjusting to fatherhood
Preparing for baby, and becoming a new parent, is a major life transition for men. And compared to other stages of life, this is a time when men are more vulnerable to experiencing psychological distress. In fact,up to 1 in 10 men willstruggle with symptoms of depression or anxiety following the birth of their baby.
Some of the challenges that new Dad’s face
Whilst there is a lot of overlap between the stresses and strains experienced by new Mums and Dads, there are also some unique stressors faced by Dads. Some of the challenges commonly reported are:
- struggling with competing demands at work and home
- the expectation to be a ‘hands on’ Dad, when many men did not experience this from their own fathers, and so have no role-model to follow
- changes to the primary relationship/sleep deprivation
- feeling unsure about how to parent
- feeling a loss of control
- social isolation
One complicating factor for Dads that are struggling is that their experience goes against society’s expectations about men and ‘maleness’. Traditional notions that men should be ‘tough and strong’ mean that the experience of vulnerability itself may be experienced as shameful, isolating the man and leaving him reluctant to talk to his mates, partner, or family.
That’s why it is so important to openly acknowledge that lots of Dads find this adjustment difficult, and everybody needs extra support after the birth of a baby. With the right help and support things can improve.
How can you support your partner?
- Ask your partner how you can best support them.
- Be curious about their experience, trying to understand it rather than trying to change it for them.
- Encourage them to speak about it with someone that they trust – this could be a GP, a friend, a family member. Or call one of the telephone support services listed below.
- Provide them with information, and access to resources, via the links at the bottom of this article.
Some resources for new Dads
A vitally important resource for new Dads is… other Dads! Friends with children can be a great source of support, ideas and advice. To support networking and connection between Dads Melbourne-based Perinatal Psychiatrast and father Dr Matthew Roberts has started ‘Town Hall Dads’.
SMS4dads provides new fathers with information and connections to online services through their mobile phones.
Panda – provides information and support for Dads, and offers a specialised perinatal anxiety and depression helpline – 1300 726 306
Dadvice– provides information and resources for new Dads from BeyondBlue