Up to 1 in 5 women will experience postpartum depression - a sad fact we’ve become more and more aware of in recent years. Of course, postpartum depression has several suspected causes. Doctors agree that the abrupt physical hormonal shift from pregnant to postnatal can undermine an otherwise stable person’s mood. Lifestyle, stress circumstances, and a history of mood disorders can also influence this disorder. While a mother’s life is rapidly changing with birth, so is their partner's! We know emotional changes are common among new moms, but dads also experience their own kind of postpartum mood shifts, too! Becoming a parent is life-altering. It’s common to see new dads in a sort of shell-shocked haze - or maybe that’s the sleep deprivation?
New Dads Get Up With The Baby At Night
Just like their partners, dads lose sleep over their newborn baby. Sometimes they stay up to soothe a fussy baby who won’t seem to stay settled. Or, they may just have a lot of worry and anxiety over making sure the baby is still breathing. Regardless, a person deprived of decent sleep is at greater risk of developing mood disorders. Even short-term sleep deprivation can create changes that cause people to become more grumpy, scattered, forgetful, and anxious. I feel like my “pregnancy brain” just extended into a permanent mom brain fogginess. For some unlucky parents, the change from eight hours of sleep to “interrupted sleep that might total six hours if you’re lucky” is a harsh one.
Dad Bod Is Real And It’s Sexy
Yeah, I said it. Dad bod is sexy - because it shows that a dad is connected to his family. Like a canary in a coal mine, a dad will begin to show the wear and tear of living off of fast food and fruit snacks weeks before a family HAS to hire a sitter. My husband’s dad bod makes me okay with having a little or a lot of jiggle. In all seriousness, it’s not uncommon for partners to gain “sympathy weight” during pregnancy. With the demand of a new child, their diet might change and their time to exercise is definitely impacted. Moms often struggle to lose weight after the baby is born for many of the same reasons men develop dad bod. It’s a shared struggle of parenthood; that level of partnership makes dad bods so sexy.
Dads Respond To Their Baby’s Hormones
It’s like some sort of magic, isn’t it? It’s science, actually. I don’t understand all the big words, but basically: dads experience a hormone shift when they become parents, too. Yes, you heard that right. Even the burliest of men will soften like a big ol’ teddy bear when a baby falls asleep on them. It’s because oxytocin is released when people touch. And babies need a lot of human touch to develop. So having a baby is kind of like having a free tap of mood-boosting love drug. And also poop.
All that poop means new parents are also under a lot of stress. The responsibility of being solely responsible for a vulnerable human that can’t tell you what’s wrong - it is rough going for even the most loving and patient parents. Life stress is going to take a toll on even the cheeriest of dads, unfortunately.
New Dads Also Experience Mood Disorders
Is it any wonder that dads experience all kinds of postnatal changes? As a mom with postpartum depression and anxiety, I can’t imagine anyone getting through the early years of parenthood sane. Toddlers take no prisoners. Scientists recognize this unique experience as “Paternal Postpartum Depression”. While they’re experiencing persistent sleep deprivation, our partners are also bearing the emotional load of typical life stressors. Add to that abrupt lifestyle changes that may unsettle even the coolest of cats, and undermine the whole house of cards with a steady diet of take-out; you’ve got yourself a mentally unstable new dad!
When you consider how much a tiny human throws everyone’s lives into a beautiful chaos, it’s obvious. Of course, new parents change. Dads change, too - even if they didn’t carry their child during pregnancy. Their sympathy weight might stick around, though!
How did your partner change after your baby arrived? Give me the deets on Twitter @pi3sugarpi3 with #BabiesChangeDads.