|Since my wife had her baby I have been feeling very flat and
lethargic. It is really strange because I was so excited about
becoming a father, but since the birth of my son, all I do
is worry about what kind of father I will turn out to be.
I know that my wife is puzzled by my behaviour, and thinks
that I am letting her down. Can you help me figure out what
is going on?
Although you may not have heard of such a thing, men do
get postnatal depression too. In fact, as many as 15% of
new fathers find themselves experiencing feelings of sadness
The fact that you are struggling is really not that surprising.
Your life has changed irrevocably. You may be feeling isolated
and left out of this strong bond that you see between your
wife and your child. You may be mourning the loss of your
formerly active sex life. You may wonder if you will ever
have a social life again. And so on. In addition, the fact
that you feel ‘what about me’ when your wife
is having a tough time physically, can make you feel that
you are shallow and selfish person.
You have been taking good care of your family, and holding
down your regular job, and part of the problem is that you
may be forgetting to take care of yourself. So start by
looking at whether you and your wife can alternate night
feeds so that one of you gets a good sleep. Discuss options
with her, including getting a night nurse once a week so
that the two of you can sleep. Take a look at your diet,
and make sure that it is well balanced. Nutrition has been
found to play a role in depression. If you are neglecting
to exercise, then perhaps you can be creative in this. When
you get home from work, offer to take the baby to the park
for a brisk walk. This action has a variety of spin offs.
You get time to bond with your baby and gain confidence
in dealing with him. You get fresh air and exercise, which
are beneficial. Your wife gets time on her own to have a
nap or do some chores. She will be appreciative. You will
feel part of things.
These are just suggestions that may not work for your life.
But the idea is that you need to look at your needs, and
then find creative ways to fulfil them that cements your
family connections. The danger at this time, is that many
men find that going to the pub, or socialising with other
men, is the easiest way to feel a bit better. But this is
not a solution, and can lead to as many problems as it solves.
What may really help is to find someone you can talk to.
There are helplines and trained practitioners who will regard
your situation as perfectly normal and be able to help you
get through this difficult time. The Post Natal Depression
Support Association may be able to guide you in this. Their
website is www.pndsa.org.za.
Remind yourself that you feelings are situational. Change
of any kind is not easy for humans, and parenthood has wreaked
havoc in your life. Be as kind and patient with yourself
as you are with your wife. With the right interventions,
you should be soon able to look back at this time and know
that you did you best under the circumstances.
Postnatal depression - Postnatal Depression
Postnatal depression - Causes
Postnatal depression - Father’s Embarrassment
Postnatal depression - Helping Yourself
Postnatal depression - Predisposition
Postnatal depression - Postnatal depression or baby blues?
Postnatal depression - Treatment