How do dads get postpartum depression if they didn’t give birth?
Dads struggling postpartum or even developing depression or anxiety isn’t something we discuss often. Typically during this time period, the focus is on baby. If the focus isn’t on baby, then it is on mom’s recovery. But for every mom diagnosed with a postpartum mood disorder, 50% of their partners are also likely suffering from a mood disorder. If you think about factors that likely contribute to postpartum depression like financial instability, lack of support and birth trauma, none of these factors are limited to just the birthing parent.
The stress of a new baby, in combination with concern for your partner who just gave birth, feelings of helplessness when if comes to a partner breastfeeding, and additional pressure on the household can all contribute to the development of postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety.
Interesting fact about hormones.
Did you know what dads or non birthing partners also experience a shift in hormones? Often mood disorders in mom postpartum are commonly blamed on hormones, but what if mom wasn’t the only one experiencing this shift? We actually have studies that show that the non birthing partner does experience a shift in hormones which may also contribute to their vulnerability in developing postpartum depression.
How can we support our partners?
Normalizing and validating their experiences can make huge impact. Screening for postpartum depression at the 6 week appointment need to be given to both partners. Many partners minimize or “white knuckle” their way through their symptoms because they don’t think they are valid to experience. Encouraging dads and partners to attend support groups and therapy is also wildly helpful. Let’s shift the narrative away from how well the baby is doing and instead checking on both mom and dad after delivery.
If you or your partner is struggling with postpartum mood disorders, feel free to schedule a free consult with Ashley about the best approach for your care.