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Mom had a baby, and Dad's... depressed?

How to help your spouse deal with your pregnancy

by Lylah M. Alphonse  |  3720 views  |  1 comment  |      Rate this now! 

A study study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association recently found that 10 percent of husbands experience depression sometime between their wives' first trimester and the end of the baby's first year, and 25.6 percent of new dads are depressed during the first 3 to 6 months of the baby's life -- in other words, when their wives are 3 to 6 months postpartum.

What does this have to do with working moms? Interestingly enough, the dads aren't likely to notice that they're depressed -- at least, not right away. But the moms do. And while dads often react by working longer hours and spending more time at home, moms on maternity leave don’t have that luxury. So it’s worthwhile to keep an eye out for signs of post-partum depression in your spouse, and get him the help he needs early on.
Harlan Cohen, author of Dad's Pregnant, Too, suggests that dads-to-be talk to other fathers before their babies are born. “Beyond reaching out to a professional, men need to talk to other men about their experiences. They need to have a support system before the baby is born,” Cohen points out. “It's hard to talk to a partner who has just given birth about what a man is feeling because she's even more sleep deprived while dealing with her own recovery and the baby's needs. There isn't much room for a depressed man. Men need other guys to talk to. Books like Dad's Pregnant, Too! are powerful for men and incredibly helpful for women so they can better understand what a man is thinking and not always sharing.”

One way to minimize the chances of depression in new dads is to make sure they’re prepared for their wives’ pregnancies. There’s a lot that they don’t tell you in those prenatal classes. Here is some of Cohen’s advice; print it out and give it to your spouse!

Give women permission to be uncomfortable at times. A lot of guys don't want to see the women they love uncomfortable. Giving her permission is the difference between telling a concerned pregnant woman to stop worrying when she expresses concern versus telling her "I understand that you're worried, but it's going to be all right."

Know what's coming your way. So much of the nervous feelings associated with pregnancy are a result of having so little control. If an expectant father has a baseline of what's normal and to be expected, he can have much more control over how he reacts to situations. The more he knows, the more comfortable he can be when unexpected situations pop up. An educated dad-to-be can ease the anxiety instead of adding to it.

About the Author

Lylah M. Alphonse is a journalist, blogger, and mom and stepmom to five kids. She is a Senior Editor at Yahoo! Shine, writes about juggling full-time career and parenthood at The 36-Hour Day here at Work It, Mom!, and blogs about everything else at Follow her on Twitter: @WriteEditRepeat.

Read more by Lylah M. Alphonse

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