How are you feeling?

By Louise, The Honest Midwife

It is highly likely that over the past few weeks and months since your baby arrived, there has been no shortage of friends, family, midwives and GPs asking, “How are you, Mum?” As part of routine postnatal care and support, new mothers are routinely screened for mental health and there is a wealth of support that can be offered.

But… what about partners? Aren’t they new parents too? It is only very recent that fathers, partners and other family members are supported by perinatal mental health services and screened for support.

Becoming a parent is a life-changing event for everyone, be they man or woman, and it is important that they are supported as they make the transition to parenthood. Partners can feel pressure to hide any feelings of anxiety or depression for fear it will worry Mum, who may be navigating her own emotions.

It is now widely acknowledged that at least 1 in 10 men or partners will suffer with postnatal depression (PND).  You or another family member may notice changes in behaviour, an increase in alcohol use, changes in food intake or exercise regimes, short temper,  or quiet or withdrawn behaviour.  If that is the case, encourage that person to talk about how they are feeling.

Whether this is your first or second child, the transition to parenthood cannot be underestimated, so it is worth having regular check-ins with each other. Here are our top tips for supporting each other during these wonderful yet overwhelming times:

Before baby arrives

Spend time before your baby arrives considering what some of the challenges you could face may be. Parents love the amazing classes accessible through our site, Let’s Talk Birth and Baby. The Wellbeing Workshop explores many topics and discusses case studies to help you think about the road ahead and how you may navigate future challenges. Everything from Grandparents to nights out without the kids is discussed and will give you a great foundation from which to start or continue your parenting journey.  Click here for more information.

Make time for each other

A common mistake is putting 100% of your time and energy into caring for your new baby and forgetting about each other. Obviously in those first few weeks, whilst you are learning all about nappies, feeding, sleep cycles and the colour of poo, there is little time for anything else. However, the dust will settle and, once you find your feet, it is so important that you find a little time to reconnect with each other. Turn the TV off every couple of weeks and have a chat. Check in with each other to see how everyone is getting on! Remember, before your new baby came along it was just the two of you and, although it all seems a long way off, they will have flown the nest before you know it and it will be just the two of you again..

Talk to each other

Trying to guess what the other may be thinking can be exhausting and send our minds off in totally the wrong direction. If your partner has become unusually quiet but insists that all is OK, gently remind them that by not telling you what is wrong, they are causing more worry than they are preventing. A problem shared is far better than a problem bottled up. 

Accept help

Speaking with your GP or midwife about how you are feeling is a great place to start when seeking support.  In addition, there is now a wealth of organisation offering support both locally an online.  The Hub of Hope is a great resource, which lists all the support available in your area.