It may seem like a strange idea for some to think of men suffering from postnatal or antenatal depression.
Some of us associate postnatal depression with the physical nature of having a baby and perhaps, placing too much emphasis on the change in hormones or change in brain chemistry surrounding childbirth.
However, for people in wider society, a trigger or major life event often sets off their mental health into a downward spiral. For some, this may be the loss of a job or even the pressure of a high powered job. For others, the break up of a relationship, moving house or their children leaving home.
Any change in the 'normal' goings on of a person's life can be a trigger for their mental health deteriorating. Therefor it isn't surprising that, when a man becomes a father, they too can suffer from poor mental health.
So many different fears and worries can surround childbirth for a man. They may be asking themselves;
'Will I make a good father?'
'What if I fail or don't give my child what they need?'
'Will my relationship with my partner change?'
'Will I be able to earn enough money to pay for all the expenses that comes from maternity leave and a new baby?'
Just like mothers, fathers who may have not had a good relationship with their own parents or who have a negative parental role model, may find becoming a parent particularly challenging. He may not become the father that he wishes he had had.
This may mean that the father creates a very high standard for himself to achieve as a parent. So high that it may not be achievable.
For other men, they may suffer trauma from the birth experience itself. It can be very difficult for a man to see his partner in pain. She may well feel in control and safe but for him, he may feel helpless. The need to protect their partner can be a strong one in some partners and this may exacerbate feelings of helplessness during labour.
For other men, who may have witnessed an emergency during labour, they may be traumatised by what they saw happening. If midwives or obstetricians are worried about any sort of risk, certain protocols may be actioned and that can be worrying to a partner, especially if this diverges from the plan that he had in mind for the birth of his child.
Have a look at this interesting article about a mans' mental health before or following childbirth. It gives an insight into this condition that we really need to talk more about in the UK.