It’s Father’s Day! Today, we celebrate the father figures in our lives who have guided us, supported us, and taught us some of life’s most invaluable lessons.
Fatherhood is a beautiful journey, but it has its fair share of difficulties. Women’s health is often at the forefront of parenthood discussions, and with good reason, at that. On the other hand, men’s experiences – especially in the early stages of parenthood – are less acknowledged and sometimes misunderstood.
In this article, we’ll put the spotlight on dads- specifically new ones. From their mental health to the sleep problems they face, we’ll explore some of the most common challenges fatherhood comes with, and what can be done to remedy them.
Men’s Mental Health
We know that mothers experience a wide range of emotions and sensations during and after pregnancy. In fact, postpartum depression affects 1 in 10 new mothers. What’s less commonly known, however, is that fathers and partners can also be affected. According to the AAP, men’s paternal depression can even increase to 50% when the mother also experiences perinatal/postpartum depression.
Paternal postpartum depression tends to occur soon after the birth of a child. It’s no surprise that the transition into fatherhood can come with high levels of stress and anxiety. First-time fathers tend to leave these feelings unchecked, thus becoming more vulnerable to depression. Some fathers also experience guilt around not being able to fully understand or relate to their partner’s pain and recovery from childbirth.
A study found that 70 percent of fathers felt that their stress increased within 12 months of welcoming their first child. The same study also revealed that 23 percent of new dads felt increasingly isolated during this period of time. Heightened stress and no support network to lean on can make the parenthood journey much more difficult.
All cultures have different expectations for how their members should behave. In many societies, men are expected to be both physically and mentally strong. This pressure often leads men to suppress their emotions and avoid asking for help when they really need it.
Traditional gender norms teach that men are to be the family’s main or sole breadwinner. This can lead men to experience burnout. To try to live up to this notion, some men will work tirelessly, consequently devoting less time to sleep.
Health and Sleep Problems
There’s nothing like a newborn to throw a parent’s sleep schedule out of whack. As draining as caring for a young child may be, it’s not the only thing that contributes to fragmented sleep.
Underlying health conditions are underrated sleep disruptors. Men tend to experience higher rates of cardiovascular and chronic lung problems which can interfere with rest. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a condition that also tends to affect men more – approximately 13% of men between the ages of 30-70 deal with moderate OSA.
Men are also more likely to consume alcohol in excess. Interestingly, an Ipsos MORI survey found that 56 percent of fathers developed an unhealthy habit soon after welcoming their first child. For some, that unhealthy habit was exercising less. For others, it was increasing their alcohol intake. It is generally accepted that alcohol and sleep have a complicated and often negative relationship. We’ll explore just how damaging this relationship can be in our next blog post.
Insufficient sleep can trigger irritability and lead to lower alertness. The consequences of lack of concentration can extend to the workplace and when looking after the children.
Sleep Solutions for Dad
If you’re a new father reading this, we hope we haven’t scared you off! Please know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Although you may have kissed the thought of ever getting a good night’s rest again goodbye, try to look forward to the third month of your baby’s life. Babies can sleep for about 5 hours at a time around the ages of 3-4 months old.
When you finally get some time to sleep, you may find that your body simply won’t rest. Although this can be frustrating, it can be easily remedied by taking Zenbev. The sleep aid works hard to ensure that your body naturally gets its melatonin production process going. Before you know it, you’ll be sound asleep – waking up a few hours later feeling refreshed, alert and ready to tend to your child.
Unfortunately, the stigma around men’s mental health persists. Regardless, being vocal about your needs is important for ensuring that you can bring your best self forward for your children.
Try to take naps whenever you can. Seek out support groups for dads. Lean on loved ones for help. Consider taking parental leave if you have access to it. Don’t be afraid to seek out professional care if you need mental health support.
Remember, when you take good care of yourself, you’ll be better equipped to take care of others.