Being a new Dad is life changing. There are amazing highs, and for about 1 in 10 men, there are some pretty low lows. Postpartum Men and Postpartum Support International (PSI) report that about 1 in 10 men may experience some sort of postpartum mood disorder after the birth of their baby. Yet, this topic is rarely talked about for several reasons.
Please note: We are speaking specifically about male partners in this blog post so we will be using masculine pronouns. These partners may be in heterosexual or same sex relationships, but are specifically not the person that gave birth.
Less Attention For Dads
Some families may joke that now that baby is here, Dad doesn’t matter anymore. For good reason, so much attention is placed on caring for the baby and then some attention is placed on caring for the physical and emotional well-being of the birthing person. And that leaves less available attention to the well-being of the male partner. In most situations, it is not a conscious decision, but rather one of necessity.
Feelings of Rejection
Being a male partner of someone who just gave birth means a change in the relationship dynamic. Prior to baby, date nights and intimacy were at a different level. Now that sleepless nights and a newborn are here, those events have either completely stopped or drastically decreased. And that is completely normal, but can also feel very unsettling to male partners. The shift is equilibrium means there will be a slight adjustment period, but any lasting symptoms can be a sign that something is outside the scope of normal.
Signs of Postpartum Depression or Anxiety in Men
Increased anger with others
Increase in alcohol and/or drug use
Increase in levels of frustration, irritability, or annoyance
Physically and/or emotionally violent behavior
Increase in stress levels
Ongoing physical issues
Change in work or hobby interest (either sharp increase or decrease)
Thoughts of physical harm or suicide
How To Support A Male Partner with a PMAD
Remind him he is not alone. With 1 in 10 men experiencing some sort of PMAD, chances are he knows someone who is feeling similar.
Reinforce seeking help does make him less of man. Lessen the stigma associated with asking for help by reminding him it does not decrease his status as a man.
Find support specific for him. Be this a Dads-only group, a therapist specializing in mood disorders for men, or a postpartum doula trained in PMADs throughout the family, the right support can make a big difference.
Give him the opportunity to recovery. You can recovery from a PMAD with proper support, but it is a commitment that may take some time.
Our postpartum doulas are trained in recognizing what is outside the scope of normal for behavior for both men and women in the postpartum period. However, we have understand our limitations. For men experiencing a PMAD, we recommend a consultation with Bryony Crain at Rebirth Coaching and Counseling.