Top Tips for Dads During Early Postpartum
Today I am honored to introduce you to Daniel Sherwin of DadSolo.com. Daniel is a single dad to his daughter (9) and son (6) and he is on a mission to make single-parenting easier for other Dads out there like him.
In this guest blog post, Daniel share his most practical tips for Dads to follow in the early days home with baby.
Although there is a lot of discussion about the prevalence of postpartum depression among mothers, there isn’t as much talk about fathers during the postpartum period. What many people, including new parents, don’t realize is that fathers can experience postpartum depression, too.
Despite the skeptics and the stigma of paternal postpartum depression, researchers have found that roughly 10 percent of fathers actually do suffer from it. Similar to postpartum depression in women, a combination of environmental and biological reasons are to blame. For instance, lack of sleep, increased stress levels, and changes in testosterone levels can all contribute to postpartum depression in men. In addition, single dads may be more susceptible to feeling overwhelmed, which may lead to postpartum depression.
It’s Not Your Fault
Postpartum depression is more than just a mental or emotional issue. According to the research studies mentioned above, it has been linked to lower levels of bonding and fewer positive interactions between parents and their children.
For instance, depressed parents (whether mothers or fathers) may be less likely to read, sing songs, or tell stories to their infant children. As you can imagine, this impacts children, and has even been linked to behavioral issues later in life. Therefore, it’s important for both you and your child that you care for yourself, rather than ignoring warning signs and symptoms that there is a deeper issue.
Although you may not be able to completely avoid postpartum depression, there are ways to reduce the symptoms. If you’re a dad or father-to-be, here are some ideas for easing yourself into parenthood.
Depression manifests differently in men than it does in women. Although men might sometimes experience feelings of sadness, they are more prone to sudden anger and aggression. They are also at risk for substance abuse and even suicide.
For these reasons, it’s important for fathers to find ways to care for their mental and emotional health, including throughout the postpartum period. This includes reducing stress and implementing healthy coping mechanisms for any negative emotions that might unexpectedly arise.
Some ideas include:
Eat balanced meals with plenty of healthy protein, fruits and vegetables
Try to get some exercise or physical activity, even if just a few minutes per day
Take up stress-relieving activities such as yoga, meditation or even fishing
You should also try to sleep whenever your baby sleeps. It’s common to lose sleep when caring for a newborn or infant, but sleep deprivation can make depression worse.
Hire a Doula
Having a birth doula can be a huge help to parents during the birth process, but many parents don't realize that a postpartum doula can also bring tremendous help to parents during the early months of babyhood. Postpartum doulas aren’t just for new or expecting mothers; a postpartum doula can be helpful for any parent, including fathers.
Becoming a parent is a life-changing experience, and postpartum doulas can help you ease your way into parenthood. Having a doula to assist you during those first few weeks will make the transition less stressful for everyone involved. You’ll be able to grab a quick nap or run to the restroom while knowing that your baby is in good hands. This support can help alleviate some of the stresses that can lead to depression in parenthood.
Many men are uncomfortable discussing their depression due to the stigma surrounding it. However, it can benefit you to seek help or talk about your depression, whether with a trusted friend, relative, or even a licensed therapist, if needed. If you’re unable to talk to anyone in person, you might even try searching online for a support group, such as an online community of other new fathers.
Although we typically associate postpartum depression with women, it definitely can affect men as well. When things get difficult, remind yourself that your children are only little for a brief time. Whether you’re anticipating the birth of your first child or your fourth, the self-care tips listed above can help you navigate the early postpartum period so you can get back to enjoying these moments of parenthood.
To learn more about Daniel Sherwin and his work visit his website: DadSolo.com