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fathers and mental health 

It is estimated that 10% of new fathers experience paternal postpartum depression following the birth of their child up until their first birthday.

New fathers often do not feel comfortable acknowledging or discussing their paternal postpartum mental health. This can be due to fathers not wanting to overshadow the support their partner requires in the postpartum period, combined with outdated societal views of men not being considered strong when talking about their feelings.

However, this can lead to mental health issues becoming more prevalent for fathers. 45% of fathers say they are affected by postnatal stress and anxiety, which means it’s important we recognise the mental health difficulties both new parents face and ensure there is support available for mothers and fathers.

Tips for new fathers

For many new fathers accessing regular support can be difficult, particularly for people living in rural areas of Scotland. Here is some guidance and practical ways that you can encourage positive mental health as a new father.

Find ways to connect with your baby
While mothers tend to have more contact with babies in the early stage of their lives, it is important that fathers are also involved in bonding with their child. Techniques such as skin-to-skin contact is an excellent way to form a bond with your child as it can help to soothe them and get them used to your voice.

Lean on family and friends
The early days of fatherhood are an overwhelming time which is why if support from friends and family is available, it’s important to try and lean on this as much as possible and not feel guilty for doing so. As the saying goes, ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’, and it’s important to take opportunities for time to yourself, with your partner or to rest.

Prioritise exercise
Exercise is proven to be effective in encouraging good mental health as it releases feel-good hormones such as oxytocin. Taking yourself and your family out for a walk in the fresh air will not only help to blow away the cobwebs but will also promote good sleep in the evening for both you and your baby.

Talk about your feelings
Most importantly, it is essential that you talk about your feelings with your partner or a health care professional as they will help to ground you and provide reassurance. Professionals can signpost you to the best available support or help you manage at home. Talking to other parents can also be beneficial as they will have experience of the challenges of becoming a new dad and may have some tips to help you further

Other support available

Fathers Network Scotland
A charity committed to improving children’s lives through the involvement of fathers.

Parent Club
An online resource endorsed by the Scottish Government that offers advice to parents through all the different stages of family life.

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