Daddy's Got the Baby Blues

Dad info share one dad's experience, plus advice and tips on what to do if you think you might be suffering from postnatal depression

After all those months of waiting to meet your new baby, emotions can run high and some fathers will become overwhelmed and can develop post-natal depression.

Postnatal depression is essentially another form of clinical depression, brought on by having a new baby and dads can suffer too. In fact, a massive 10% of new fathers show signs of depression either during their wife's pregnancy or up to six months after their child is born. Three to six-months after the baby's arrival a whopping 26% of new dads feel depressed.

Tony's Story

Donna began to get very close to the baby and I began to feel more and more useless - I felt like a spare part. Donna knew several other mums in the area and would enjoy meeting up. When they came to our flat, I didn't know what to do with myself. I began to leave, just to get out of the way.

Donna and I had some terrible rows. It seemed so unfair. I also found it really hard to get close to my baby - he would always cry for his mum and she would take him away from me to comfort him.

I found I couldn't sleep and began not to enjoy anything. I became really irritable and started not eating properly. In the end, my best mate said I looked really rough. It took a lot of courage, but I eventually went to see my GP.

New Dad Reality Check

Your baby will cry. Endlessly, it may well seem! You may be up at 3am (and 5am) helping with a feed when you just want your bed. The mother and the baby, especially in the early weeks, can seem like the stars of the show and you, just the dad, can feel like a bystander looking in as the mother and infant bond.

Bonding with Baby

It can help to establish some small steps to avoid potential feelings of resentment, make time to stop and be with your baby, have lots of cuddles, someone else can make the tea! Skin-to-skin is especially good, take your shirt off, strip your baby down to their nappy (or further if you dare!). Holding your baby can help you avoid feeling isolated and give your partner some rest.

Postnatal depression can make it tough for you to bond with your baby. Be aware of that but having depression does not make you a lesser parent, in the same way that catching a cold wouldn't - it is an illness, not a weakness or a reflection on how much you love your baby.

What are the Symptoms of Postnatal Depression

  • Fear, confusion and helplessness
  • Withdrawal from work, family and social events
  • Frustration
  • Marital Conflict
  • Insomnia
  • Negative parenting
  • Physical changes such as headaches, changes in appetite

What Can You Do?

  • Don't try to ignore these feelings and soldier on
  • Don't resort to drink, drugs or burying yourself in work in an attempt to cope - this is a short-term fix and will do more harm than good in the long run
  • Remember that your health is important to your partner, to your baby, and for her development
  • Seek help from the start: don't wait to be asked by a health professional, such as your family health visitor or GP, about how well you're feeling or coping
  • You're more likely to recover quickly if you can acknowledge the problem and actively seek a solution. Consider asking for support or practical help from family or friends, if you want to chat with other Dads anonymously use the Dad.info forum or consult your GP

Further Support

  • Join our community of Dads in Dad.info's Forum
  • Pre and Postnatal Depression Advice and Support (PANDAS) have lots of help and advice - FREE helpline 0808 1961 776 · The Association for Post Natal Illness
  • Contact your local GP or health visitor

This article is by Dad.info, a male-focussed project within Fegans Children's Counselling Charity to support Dads