For most couples, it is the dads tasked to find signs of postpartum depression in moms. Because of this, dads often overlook the fact that their mental health needs to be kept at-check too. Yes – post-partum depression for dads is real. It’s called Paternal Post-Partum Depression, and it manifests differently in comparison to their partners. This article will talk about the signs of this phenomenon, and how to manage it.
In June 1986, my husband Allan became a father. Our first born Raf was born the Lamaze way. Allan was with me throughout the labor and arrival of Raf. Being a doctor, he was so involved in choosing my obstetrician and hospital. He came with me in a number of doctor’s visits, and in the times he was not available, he would call our OB for updates. We enrolled in Lamaze classes that further gave him the experience to connect with me in the process of expecting a baby. Apart from this, he cared for babies in his Pediatrics rotation in the hospital, so he had first-hand training. In retrospect, I can imagine the support he gave me throughout my pregnancy made him realize that he was in fact going to be a father. This isn’t always the case. For other dads-to-be, the realization of bringing a child into the world may be signaled by other things like rising medical and medicinal expenses, doctors’ fees, laboratory exams, maternity clothes, and his wife’s tummy getting bigger by the day.
So do husbands experience post-partum blues? Studies show they do. New fathers may run the risk of feeling discouraged by the growing demands of parenthood: coping through changes in sleeping patterns, having to support the exhausted mom, helping handle a colicky baby late at night, losing quality time as husband and wife, coupled with demands at the workplace. Dads may not always cry but it does not mean they are immune to frustration and anger. If left unchecked, this depression may manifest in terms of irritability and loss of pleasure in anything.
With all these said, how can we avoid Paternal Post-Partum Depression? For new or expectant parents out there, here are some tips and tricks:
- Converse with seasoned parents to help ease any anxiety the both of you may be feeling;
- Ask family members to care for the baby while the two of you go out for a stroll, lunch or an afternoon snack. Whatever the activity may be, make sure you give yourselves ample time to reconnect as a couple;
- Visit your wedding Ninangs and Ninongs to share the changes you are both going through. Listen to their stories and the ways they coped with their newborn. Your favorite titos and titas can also be helpful as a listening ear and may even have some words of wisdom to impart;
- Research on tips and tricks when it comes to caring for your newborn. From carrying, feeding and burping the baby or even just changing the diaper – don’t be afraid to seek help. Just make sure you are both actively engaged in connecting and bonding with your child;
- Moms usually take maternity leaves, enabling them to focus solely on adapting to life as a parent. As for dads, it is important to manage expectations at the workplace at least for the first two months as reduced sleep may affect work performance and even cause tardiness at work;
- For the dads, make time to go out with your friends to chat about the changes you’re going through. It will be helpful if some of them are dads as well and can understand your new role better;
- If symptoms of Paternal Post-Partum Depression persist, seek the advice of a health care professional who can listen and guide you onto the road of recovery. HCPs are the best people to assess if talk therapy should suffice, or if there is a need for anti-depressant medication.
Changes in the family can cause sadness and stress. These are normal. But we need to be open in seeking help for improvement to be underway. The more stable each unit in the family is, the more they are able to support each other. This way, both mom and dad can fully enjoy this new chapter in their family life.
About The Expert
Maribel Sison Dionisio, MA, Family, Relationship & Marriage Expert
Maribel, a Relationship and Parenting Consultant for over 25 years has co-authored books, like “Helping our Children do Well in School, Growing up Wired” and “I’ve been Dating…now what?”. She was a contributor and the Parenting Expert of Wyeth’s Nurture Network from 2010 to 2018. Maribel is a regular Parenting Expert for various TV and radio programs, like Radyo Singko’s Relasyon and ABS-CBN’s Umagang Kay Ganda. Maribel served as a Judge for the Jollibee Family Values Award.
In 2008, she set-up AMD Love Consultants for Families and Couples. She worked at the Center for Family Ministries and trained as an Imago Therapist of the Imago Relationships International, New York. Maribel and husband, Allan, are both graduates of the Family Ministry course, Ateneo de Manila. They prepare couples for marriage in the Discovery Weekend and are columnists for the Feast Magazine. They have co-authored two relationship books, Thinking of Marriage and Teen Crush. Allan and Maribel, happily married for 36 years, have 3 children, Rafael, David, and Angelica.
The views and opinions expressed by the writer are his/her own, and does not state or reflect those of Wyeth Nutrition and its principals.