Dads Get the Baby Blues Too

Preparing for a new baby can be an exciting time for new parents. They often get caught up decorating the room, going to doctor’s appointments, and buying the necessities. There is not much time to focus on personal health when you are almost a father.

It takes a lot of effort to keep the mom and baby healthy and comfortable. Once the baby arrives, sleep deprivation can become an issue. Once again, most of the focus is on the mom and baby.

Family and friends may make extra efforts to monitor health and look out for postpartum depression. Dads may ignore their own feelings during this time, thinking that they are just tired or frustrated. It is important for fathers to understand the reality and signs of the baby blues in men.

Symptoms

It is a fairly new concept to validate a father’s postpartum depression. With women, the cause is often contributed to changing hormones and more widely accepted. All family members, however, need to be well-cared for after a new baby is born.

Emotions can run high even in well-balanced relationships during this time. Stress can be higher when you add other factors, such as blended families, difficult in-laws, and heavy work schedules. Couples should be aware of the symptoms of the baby blues in both men and women.

It is also important to have a checkup with a professional if you do not feel right, even if you cannot pinpoint the problem. Look out for these commonly reported symptoms that indicate possible baby blues in men. Excessive irritability

  • Insomnia
  • Feelings of hopelessness or inadequacy
  • Postpartum depression in the mother (couples often experience this symptom at the same time)
  • Elevation of previous anxiety disorder (heightened fear, more panic attacks, or more obsessive-compulsive symptoms than usual)
  • Overall sadness
  • Trouble bonding with the baby

You can also take an online postpartum depression test to get a better idea of your situation.

Risk Factors

The baby blues can happen to anyone, even if they have a proper support group. Lack of support, however, is a common risk factor. It is easy to become overwhelmed when you have minimal help. It is not unusual for a young couple to live far away from their parents or other family members.

Friends are often busy caring for their own families. Fathers in lower income brackets are also more susceptible to getting the baby blues. They may have to work extra hours to make ends meet or be unable to afford help.

Poor insurance coverage or lack of insurance can also prevent fathers from taking good care of themselves. An ill or special needs baby may also be a reason for less sleep and depressive tendencies, as well. A family history of depression should not be ignored. Having a baby is a major life change and everyone handles it differently.

Prevention and Care

It is extremely important to be kind when a man opens about his postpartum complications. Many men need help but do not want to ask for it. If you learn to recognize the symptoms, however, you may be able to prevent the situation from worsening.

Education is key to preventing serious cases of the baby blues. Doctors should provide information for the father when they are monitoring the mother’s pregnancy. This helps them ease into the reality of what may happen after the baby is born.

Once a diagnosis is made, consistent care is necessary. Provide regular breaks for father, counseling, and a healthy diet. Rest is key to proper mental function, as well. Depression can become more serious with sleep deprivation.

Fathers often go to work all day and help with babies at night. Paternity leave is not always paid for and many families cannot afford for the father to take time off.  Shorter maternity leave has been linked to a higher risk of maternal depression. Make arrangements with family for help with the baby. There is not always help available, however.

Couples must work together to make sure they get sleep. Take turns napping when the baby naps and arrange the night shift so that each parent gets a few hours of uninterrupted sleep. Parents may also need to spend some time alone without the baby.

A short trip out for coffee or a meal can help restore perspective. Professional therapy can help fathers sort out their feelings and feel validated. A support group with other dads can also be a great help. Family and friends can help keep new parents healthy by doing a few simple tasks.

  • Cook and deliver meals
  • Pick up groceries or other necessary items
  • Stop by simply to talk (isolation can contribute to postpartum symptoms)
  • Do the laundry, clean the house, or mow the yard
  • Watch the baby while parents nap
  • Babysit for a few hours once the baby is big enough

When both the father and the mother receive good care, families can thrive. New parents may think they have to handle every difficulty without complaint since they chose to have a baby. They need to know there are other parents experiencing the same struggles.

Preventative care can keep postpartum depression at a minimum. Early detection makes it much easier to treat and ensures that the baby remains healthy, as well. Traumatic incidents in the news are often the result of ignored postpartum depression.

Education about symptoms, prevention, and treatment are a necessity for all expecting parents.

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