Having a baby brings about enormous life changes for both birthing and non-birthing parents. Although the specific demands on each parent may differ, both parents are at risk of experiencing adjustment difficulties to their new life.
The primary breadwinner can feel a new pressure on having to provide, may feel stressed about the long-term security of their employment, or may feel doubtful about their parenting capacity (especially if their own parenting was negative).
Non-birthing parents with a history of mental illness may find that the anticipation of having a baby (during their partner's pregnancy), or the birth of their baby, serve as triggers for a decline in their mental health. Non-birthing parents who have no history of mental illness, may struggle to adjust to their new life, experiencing stress, anxiety, depression or other mental health concerns for the first time.
Some parents experience mental health disturbances as a result of their partners' emotional difficulties. When either or both parents' mental health is in decline, this can affect the relationship between parent and infant. The first few years of a child's life are significant for their overall development, and both parents' mental health is important for optimal family functioning.
Why non-birthing parents seek help
Here are some common reasons why expectant and new parents seek help:
Apprehension about supporting partner in childbirth
Difficult diagnoses during pregnancy
Concerns about birthing parent's physical or mental health during pregnancy/childbirth
Feeling pressured about balancing work expectations and family
Loss of old relationship and old life
Partner's or own disinterest in sex
Concerns about bonding with baby
Fears about caring for infant or safety of infant
Dealing with critical, erratic, angry partner
Dealing with partner's mental illness after birth
Fear about repeating negative parenting patterns
Feeling suicidal, worthless, or wanting to escape from your life
Seeking help can be daunting. However once the first step has been taken, the process of getting help can be a great relief. You will need a referral from your GP to see one of our Psychiatrists. Dr Matthew Roberts and Dr Michael Block have a special interest in working with fathers and couples.
1. Book a (long) appointment with your GP 2. Write down the feelings and symptoms you are experiencing before seeing your GP or complete this stress test and take the results to your GP 3. Remember GPs talk about their patients' feelings, moods, appetite, sleep patterns, libido, relationship difficulties, parenting struggles, work pressures - EVERY DAY. There is nothing to feel embarrassed about. 4. Ask your GP to send a referral to thePsychiatrist/Psychologist you have chosen, or to the Psychiatrist/Psychologist your GP recommends 5. Book an appointment with the Psychiatrist/Psychologist who will help you to address the stressors in your life, and find better ways of managing
What is the difference between a Psychiatrist and Psychologist?
Our psychiatrists work closely with the Antenatal & Postnatal Psychology Network in order to assist men, women and couples during conception, pregnancy and the postnatal period. Generally your GP will inform you of the most appropriate referral.
Information and phone support
PANDA Lifeline Suicide Helpline Parentline Mensline Australia