Relationships between dads and their children matter from the very start of pregnancy and throughout your child’s life.
Becoming a dad can be exciting but you may also feel left out, unsure or overwhelmed. Having a new baby is often a time of great change, it is not unusual for dads to feel anxious, or experience moments of worry and stress.
Your health visiting service is available for all the family including you. You can contact your health visitor if you have any worries, questions, and concerns about your own health, your baby, or your partner.
Dad's are very much welcome in all of Hillingdon children's centres with their child. They also have dedicated Dad's groups that run on Saturday's. Get in touch with your local children's centre to find out more and book a space to attend.
Remember, Babies Cry You Can Cope
Comfort methods can sometimes soothe the baby and the crying will stop. Is the baby hungry, tired or in need of a nappy change?
It’s okay to walk away if you have checked the baby is safe and the crying is getting to you. After a few minutes when you are feeling calm, go back and check on the baby.
Remember crying is normal and it will stop.
Never, ever shake or hurt a baby. It can cause lasting brain damage and death.
- Try to prepare and eat healthy meals
- Take regular breaks and get outdoors if you can
- Try to get as much sleep and rest as possible
- Take a relaxing bath or shower
- Talk through your emotions with friends or family
Fathers can also develop postnatal depression. Research suggests about 1 in 10 fathers are affected.
Men can find it harder to seek support, but it's important to tell a GP if you're feeling anxious or depressed.
It's important to be aware of the signs of postnatal depression because the faster it's diagnosed, the easier it is to treat.
Symptoms of postnatal depression can include:
• crying a lot
• difficulty sleeping
• thinking you're a bad mother
• not being able to cope and blaming yourself
• anxiety, panic attacks and feeling guilty
• being overwhelmed by even the smallest tasks
• feeling tense and irritable
• difficulty concentrating and making decisions
If you, your partner, or your family are concerned about your emotional or mental health there is support available. You can refer yourself for support from Hillingdon Talking Therapies or speak to your GP or Health Visitor for support.
There are also several organisations who specialise in helping and supporting Dads
• PANDAS Dads Facebook Page has information for men experiencing postnatal depression from the charity PANDAS
• National Childbirth Trust offers information, support and events to support new parents in their local area.
• The Birth Trauma Association has information and support for partners of someone who's experienced a difficult birth.
• The Fatherhood Institute works on policy and research to support fathers.
It’s normal to experience some stress as a new parent and signs such as feeling overwhelmed, disturbed sleep and lack of concentration are common amongst new parents. Partners need to trust their instincts if they feel something isn’t right.
Sometimes it can be very difficult to know how to help your partner if you notice something wrong. You may feel whatever you say or do, is not helping them to feel better and that nothing is working.
The first thing to do is encourage your partner to seek professional help, if not already doing so. That might be them speaking to their GP or Health Visitor or them referring themselves to Hillingdon talking therapies.
There are lots of things you can also do to support
• Listen - Giving a space for your partner to be able to talk about their feelings and fears can be really helpful.
• Get help - As well as professional help, look at who in your network may be able to assist. It may be help with meals, cleaning, or looking after baby and other children. It can be good for others to know what is happening so they can offer to help.
• Take it one day at a time - There may be good days and bad days, but take each as it comes.
• Be practical - Is there anything you can do to support your partner and baby and baby? Could you do some extra cleaning, prepare some meals or do the food shopping? Try asking your partner what may be helpful.
Remember it’s really important to support yourself too, that can be speaking to family or friends or attending Dad’s groups. If you work, find out what leave you may be entitled to with a new baby. The DirectGov website contains up-to-date advice on paternity leave, parental leave, and compassionate leave, which you may be entitled to.