Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Postnatal depression in Dads?

Recently there were two articles about fathers who suffered mental health issues, guilt, lack of bonding following the birth of their children and wish to speak out about it.

I believe that there is such a thing as postnatal illness for men - it happens to be mental health problems in the postnatal period. For the new father even attending the birth can be traumatic. I know Nick felt totally powerless and out of control when I gave birth to our son. I know our experience could be described as a 'traumatic birth' due to complications but for any guy who doesn't even like going to a doctor's surgery to be flung in the midst of a surgical theatre and expected to smile, it is verging on the ridiculous! Mothers are lucky if they get debriefed after the birth so there is no chance for the fathers! Within hours the mother is back home and Dad is expected to be the perfect father, husband/partner, host, secretary, cook, cleaner, laundryman. Oh yes - and be ecstatic and fit in a pint or two with the lads down the pub and go back to work in a day or two. Did I mention being woken every few hours too?

I have every sympathy for the dads but my plea is the same as mums - DO NOT SUFFER IN SILENCE. Read the articles and books suggested above. Talk to them or other people in your support network. Time, patience, support and a baby who will start to 'give back' will all improve the situation.

When I spoke in Australia last year at the Marce conference I listened to Timothy O'Leary from Frances Perry House, Melbourne, talking about his 'Father's Time Program'.
Fathers in these groups are encouraged to be positively anchored during times of stress - a frank, open discussion about these issues leaves pre-natal fathers feeling much more purposeful about their transition to parenthood than simply encouraging fathers to 'get involved'.

We need more of this education in the UK. let me know if you have come across any!

Thank you to my colleague from Professional Speakers Association, Ali Turnbull for telling me about these articles. See her website at


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