It had been more than a year since Aryan came into this world. Finally, they had a baby to cuddle with every night, someone they had longed for. But the stalks not only brought Aryan, two opinionated grandmothers, but also post-partum depression. Sleepless nights, a screaming infant, and fights between Mrs And Mr K were now routine.
Helpless, hopeless, and despair filled their lives, Mr K struggled to attend to his wife’s needs, his demanding job, and the duties of being a father.
Mr.K had never felt this overwhelmed at work. Routine tasks seemed cumbersome, and his ability to focus had dropped. Soon enough Mr K’s cigarettes and alcohol consumption were on the rise. At his regular check-ups, his GP always stated, “you must be there for your wife and child”, brushing aside Mr K’s emotional needs, this was only till Mr K could not cope with any longer.
| 1 in 10 fathers experience postpartum depression.
Unlike women, men are less likely to express their feelings of sadness and more likely to react to their depression with anger, restlessness, and anxiety. These feelings are often triggered by a change in structure and dynamic within the household, something they are not entirely prepared for.
At the University of Sheffield Jane Iles, Pauline Slade, and Helen Spiby asked couples to complete a questionnaire about their stress levels at different times following childbirth—after 7 days, 6 weeks, and 3 months. Their findings suggested that the symptoms of postpartum depression were similar among men and women. The severity of symptoms for men often followed their partner’s or occurred simultaneously. In both men and women, higher levels of postpartum depression were related to inadequate partner support.
It is important to realize that men are as likely as women to experience postpartum depression. It important for men to accept these feelings and seek help to cope with the changes.
Here are a few things men can do to help them with postpartum depression
- Speak to a mental health professional – it is a cathartic experience. The empathy and non-judgmental space it provides a sense of acceptance, something the father needs.
- Join a support group – knowing you are not alone, and it is okay to feel what you are feeling.
- Exercise – it produces happy hormones that lift the mood and creates a sense of clarity.
- Take breaks – disconnect mentally for a bit, it refreshes and rejuvenates the mind.
- Sleep well – this acts like a reset button, it gives you energy for the day ahead.
- Fair division of work – even though the father may return to work before the mother, we must acknowledge that his hours away from the baby still count as productive waking hours. The overall workload must be divided between both parents.
In India, we are fortunate to have doting grandparents. It is important for grandparents to realize that they are there only to support and provide suggestions, parents need to make joint decisions and work together as a team for their child and help the grandparents respect, accept and appreciate the decisions made by new parents.
Kate Quinn, Helen Spiby & Pauline Slade (2015) A longitudinal study exploring the role of adult attachment in relation to perceptions of pain in labour, childbirth memory and acute traumatic stress responses, Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, 33:3, 256-267, DOI: 10.1080/02646838.2015.1030733