The following is an updated article that I first published in 2008, entitled Fears of first time fathers.
I recently came across an interesting article by Chris Woolston entitled Fear of Fathering. It had been earmarked by a first time father I know and makes great reading for all parents-to-be.
In the clinic I call it “third trimester father syndrome”, referring to the rush of bad backs, nagging infections, insomnia or general stress in the last 3 months before the babe is due for first time fathers-to-be.
What struck me in the article is many of the fears that men have are similar to their partner’s – that they will loose their identity, money (his concerns about taking on increased financial responsibility, her worry that she’ll loose financial independence or jeopardize her career) and that they’ll never have time for themselves, let alone sex, ever again.
If you are entering parenthood for the first (or even third) time and share some of these concerns, consider reading this article with your partner to use it as a springboard to discuss your fears. From a holistic perspective, talking about these feelings before the baby is born may reduce the chance of developing paternal postnatal depression.
Also on the topic of men and parenting:
Men at Home is an Australian website dedicated to stay at home dads.
A discussion paper in the Medical Journal of Australia addressing depression and anxiety among new fathers
New research suggests that fathers may be more important than mothers in determining whether a child becomes overweight or obese.
Update May 2010:
One in 10 new fathers may have the baby blues.
The Eastern Virginia Medical School team based their findings on 43 studies involving 28,004 parents from 16 different countries including the UK and the US.
They found new fathers were generally happiest in the early weeks after the birth of their baby, with depression kicking in after three to six months. By this time, at least 10% and up to 25% had post-natal depression.
The research identified three major triggers for post-natal depression in new fathers:
1. Sleep deprivation
2. Increased responsibilities.
3. A partner with post-natal depression.
While hormones play a role in post-natal depression in women, this study is also a reminder that there are many potential social, psychological and health issues involved in triggering depression in new parents. Even outside of a new parenting situation, living with someone who is depressed can have a major impact on your own mental health.
Support for new parents, regardless of gender or family type, is fundamental in the prevention of post-natal depression.
Reference: Sad dads – aka Prenatal and Postpartum Depression in Fathers and Its Association With Maternal Depression, James F. Paulson, PhD; Sharnail D. Bazemore, MS, JAMA. 2010;303(19):1961-1969.