Hi Friends, and welcome back to the blog! If you are new to WHOA MAMA thanks for stopping by and if you are a vet, it is always good to have you back.
WHOA MAMA focuses on the good, bad, and ugly of motherhood as it relates to maternal mental health, but today I am going to switch gears a little bit.
Since Sunday was Father’s Day, and Monday was International Fathers’ Mental Health Day, this post is dedicated to all the daddies out there.
I do not watch a ton of TV, but I am a big fan of the show Insecure on HBO. This season two of the shows characters, Derek and Tiffany had a sweet baby girl. And even though these characters did not have a huge role in this season, there were some red flags regarding their mental health sprinkled throughout a few of the episodes. As a mental health professional this was a bit of a tease. Every time a new episode came on, I watched hoping the writers would address the changes to Derek and Tiffany’s mental health as they entered this new phase in their lives… Parenthood.
Unfortunately, it was not until the season finale that the door to Derek and Tiffany’s life was cracked open and we were able to see that they (especially Tiffany) were not okay.
Derek’s presence throughout this season was minimal, but his appearance was a bold reminder that the men in our lives are not exempt from experiencing changes to their mental & emotional health after becoming a father. They too can struggle with all of the challenges of becoming a new parent such as financial stress, bonding with the baby, changes to their love life, trying to be a supportive partner, feeling like a third wheel to mama and baby, and every parents favorite… good ol’ sleep deprivation.
So, have you considered that your partner’s mental and emotional health could have been affected by becoming a parent?
I do this often, so this should not come as a shock. But it is confession time…
Even though I knew this could be a possibility, after having my son, my husband’s mental & emotional health was not at the forefront of my mind.
My own mental, emotional, and physical health was still in recovery mode from having a baby, so unfortunately his mental and emotional health were not a priority. Mama, if you are/were like me it is okay. This is one of those moments where you can show yourself grace because you too were dealing with a lot.
So, going forward I would encourage you to consider that your partner could be struggling mentally and/or emotionally. Here are a few ways we as partners can help them along the way.
Emotional Check Ins: Find time throughout your day to be open and honest about how you are feeling. This can be done in the moment or as a part of your nighttime routine. Sharing your own feelings can help create a safe space for your partner to express the challenges he may be experiencing to his mental and emotional state.
Let your partner help: I truly believe mamas are superheroes, but even superheroes can use a little bit of help. Somehow my husband fell into the role as the diaper changer. As a nursing mama this was one of the times my husband had my son all to himself, and it was extremely helpful. They have some pretty funny and memorable stories from my son’s diaper changes.
If your partner does not automatically fall into a role this may require you to put on your big girl panties and ask for help. Your partner can take on other tasks such as feeding the baby, giving your little one a bath, helping during nap time, going for walks, play time, pretty much doing any task a mom can do besides breastfeeding.
This will give your partner time to bond with the baby and a chance to feel needed by you and your little one. Also, skin to skin between dad and baby is a great way for them to bond.
Make time for each other: Do not lose sight of each other. Aside from your emotional check ins it is important to spend time together. Take some time to snuggle, call up a friend or family member so you can go out on a date, or do something at home during nap time. Your relationship with your partner is just as important as it was prior to having your little one.
Sleep: Sleep has a huge impact on our mood. As a new parent sleep deprivation almost seems like a rite of passage, but it still does not change the fact that when you do not get the proper amount of sleep you will experience changes to your mental and emotional health.
Your stage of parenthood will determine whether you need to implement my survival tips or sleep hygiene tips. Check out my posts Dear Sleep… I miss you and Dear Sleep… Part II to learn more about both.
This is just a starting point and way to get the conversation going about the mental health of our men. I appreciate shows like Insecure that highlight these mental health issues through their characters Nathan who was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, Derek the new daddy, and season 1 Lawrence (it wasn’t said out loud but you cannot tell me that Season 1 Lawrence wasn’t struggling).
So, what do you think mamas? Have you considered your partners mental and emotional health after becoming parents? What tips do you have on supporting the dads in your life? I would love to hear from you, so please leave your thoughts below.
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See you next time,
**Spoiler Alert: In the next few weeks I will have a similar post discussing maternal mental health in relation to the red flags we saw from the character Tiffany. Please be patient with me as I have a few other posts I want to share and I am prepping for my move. But trust me the post about Tiffany is one you will not want to miss.**
If you need any additional support as you navigate motherhood schedule a 15-minute consultation with Patience today. You are not alone mama.
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