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How to support a new dad?


New dad and baby

With this week marking Men's Health Week and also Father's Day, I wanted to take some time to highlight men's health; focusing on new dad's mental health and wellbeing.


The arrival of a new baby (or babies!) is a massive transitional period, some would say the biggest transition you'll ever go through. With mums doing the heavy lifting (literally!) through pregnancy and childbirth, a lot of the focus, is on the new mother but often the new father, or other new parent, can fall between the cracks. We can often forget what a lifechanging event this also is for the new dads and partners. So what are the best ways to help support new dads and what organisations and resources are out there for them?


I've teamed up with some amazing organisations who currently provide support for men and new dads to ask them for their expert point of view and advice on this subject. Read on to find out what they've got to say.....


Mantenatal Logo

MANtenatal is a fully digital platform, providing antenatal classes specifically for new dads (designed by dads & endorsed by the NHS and Midwives). Here's what Gordon, the founder and owner of MANtenatal has to say when I got in touch:


1. What would be your top tip for boosting mental wellbeing for new dads?

Check in with yourself – stop, think and ask yourself how you feel about being a father. Communicating with your partner is essential to sharing what many men keep buried down inside. Its ok, not to be ok! You can also Set short-term goals – work towards something to better yourself for the sake of your family. Personal goals can give you a real sense of purpose

2. What would be your best "dad-advice"?

Adjust your expectations – things are not the same for every dad and each baby is unique. Stop trying to reach perfection, it does not exist. Instead, focus on progress and learn as you go. That is far more realistic and asking for help/ support is a strength and not a weakness!

3. How can new-dads get in touch with you/get support from your organisation?

Simple visit our website www.MANtenatal.com or follow us on all social platforms, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MANtenatal.Official or Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/mantenatal/ We love DM’s or you can email us info@MANtenatal.com


Andy's Man Club Logo

Andy's Man Club are a Men’s Mental Health Charity; offering free-to-attend talking groups for men and challenging the stigmas around Male Mental Health. Check out what they had to say below:


1. What would be your top tip for boosting mental wellbeing for new dads?

My advice would be to take time out for yourself, easier said then done at times with a new born but it's a must to help keep on top of your mental wellbeing.

2. What would be your best "dad-advice"?

Best Dad advice from me would be, don't be so hard on yourself, being a new dad is massive mix of emotions and at some point it will get tough and mistakes will be made. No 'Dad' is perfect.

3. How can new-dads get in touch with you/get support from your organisation?

We are on all forms of social media and the head office can be contacted by emailing info@andysmanclub.co.uk for more information and help finding the current locations of our groups, all groups meet 7pm on Monday evenings expect Bank Holidays. Hull currently has 5 locations, with a group in Beverley and Goole as well. Click here to visit our website: https://andysmanclub.co.uk/ or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/andysmanclub

or Instagram https://www.instagram.com/andysmanclubuk/


DadPad Logo

DadPad is the essential guide for new dads, developed with the NHS, helping to give you the knowledge and practical skills that you need with a new baby, but providing resources to support you and your partner in giving your baby the best possible start in life. Here's what they had to say:


1. What would be your top tip for boosting mental wellbeing for new dads?

That’s a difficult one, as there are so many different ways to boost our mental wellbeing, and – as we’re all individuals – they won’t all be suitable for each of us. Each person’s individual situation (whether you have close and supportive friends and family around you, your working hours, etc), personality type, and hobbies and interests will all impact on whether different ways of enhancing our mental wellbeing will work for us.

However, it’s of crucial importance that we do all acknowledge the need to not only take positive steps to boost our mental wellbeing when we become a new dad, but also to be aware that – despite what we might read and see in popular culture and on social media – becoming a new parent isn’t always a time of unadulterated bliss and happiness! Indeed, figures suggest that – similar to new mums – as many as 1 in 10 new dads will experience post-natal depression (or some other form of perinatal mental ill-health) within a year of their partner giving birth, due to the combination of: hormonal changes (yes, this affects

dads as well as mums!); environmental factors (new pressures relating to income, housing, relationship with their partner, lack of sleep, etc); and psychological factors (including previous mental health issues, coping skills, and so on). Given that dads are now acknowledged as having such a crucial role to play within a family unit – thankfully, gone are the days when the role of the ‘man of the house’ was seen as purely being there to earn the wages and administer the discipline – it’s essential that he does all that he can to ensure his own mental wellbeing at such a challenging time in his life. The traditional list of ways to keep ourselves mentally refreshed and healthy include:

Taking ‘time out’, including (for example) by finding time to listen to some favourite music, reading a book, or having a good laugh in front of a favourite TV show;

Exercise – going for walks, for example, especially in nature is recognised as a good way to take time for yourself and to ‘clear your head’; and

Healthy lifestyle – eating good food and avoiding ‘self-medicating’ with alcohol, recreational drugs, etc are also acknowledged ways of keeping mentally (as well as physically) well.

However, if pushed, our top tip would be to keep talking to those around you – including, of course, baby’s mum – about your worries, your fears and the things that you might be struggling with. All of these are natural and experienced by the vast majority of (probably, to some extent, ALL) new parents, so it’s nothing to feel ashamed of, or to think that it means that you’re not a ‘good dad’. It’s widely acknowledged that the earlier that we seek help for difficulties that we might be experiencing in our mental health – even doing something as simple as sharing these worries with another person – the better the potential outcome.


2. What would be your best "dad-advice"?

Plan ahead! One of the key things that you and your partner can do in the run up to the arrival of your baby is to start reading up on the potential challenges and difficulties that you might face, and talking together about how you might deal with them. Preparation and communication are key – for both of you!

As well as learning about and discussing the most obvious things – like baby care, sleep, feeding, and parental leave – it’s also important to be open to the fact that, even if you and/or your partner have no history of mental health problems, this is also something that you might have to deal with.

If possible, go to as many antenatal classes and appointments with your partner as you can. As Kelly Arnold explained to us: Attending appointments with your partner will help you feel more involved in the arrival of your baby and also give you the opportunity to ask questions about things that may be worrying you. Learning as much in advance as you can on baby care will be a huge help for you, enabling you to gain confidence and reducing the risk of feeling overwhelmed and/or anxious in your new role. This will bring a number of benefits to all members of your family unit, including:

Providing baby’s mum with a partner who is ready and able to get hands on from the start, relieving her of the pressure to be all things to everyone – including ‘teacher’ of dad – and giving her a bit more time, space and energy to recover from the birth and (if the two of you decide to breastfeed your baby) get breastfeeding successfully established;

Helping you and your baby build the oh-so-important bond of secure attachment between you, which will bring enormous benefits to all of you as your child continues to grow and develop; and

Reducing the risk of your own mental health and wellbeing deteriorating.

In addition to antenatal classes, we’d of course recommend that a dad-to-be gets hold of either a DadPad and/or downloads the DadPad app, as they contain lots of good advice on key skills for new parents, as well as information on perinatal mental health for mum and dad. Further, the app will also have links to sources of local and national support, and crisis response.


3. How can new-dads get in touch with you/get support from your organisation?

Although we aren’t able to offer direct advice or support for dads-to-be or new dads, we do aim to provide lots of information and guidance via our DadPad app, DadPads and website (https://thedadpad.co.uk/) which contains our Blog section, with lots and lots of articles on topics relevant to new dads, including baby care, bonding and attachment, mental health, and supporting baby’s mum. To get in touch with us, you can email us at: hello@thedadpad.co.uk. or check us out on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/dadpaduk or Instagram https://www.instagram.com/dadpaduk/


The Happy Baby Hive Logo

The Happy Baby Hive provides parent and baby wellbeing classes, covering the Hull and East Riding area; currently offering baby massage, baby yoga and special workshops. All classes include practices that not only strengthen the parent and baby bond, but also help support mental health for both baby and parent. It felt rude to post this blog without answering my questions too, so here it goes!


1. What would be your top tip for boosting mental wellbeing for new dads?

It's hard to come up with just one tip, but I would have to say, spending some one to one time with your baby; take care of your little one, change them, cuddle them skin to skin, play or even try some baby massage. Connecting to your baby is proven to help boost your mental wellbeing and it also will boost your confidence. There seems to be a tendency in our society to see mums as naturally more capable, but I strongly disagree; dads are just as capable and I've seen so much evidence to the contrary, dads are amazing! Also, make sure you take the time to acknowledge what a big change this is, it's perfectly ok, and normal to take time to adjust, go easy on yourself, all new parents are learning and adjusting.


2. What would be your best "dad-advice"?

I thought I'd tag in my husband for this one, and get some advice direct from another dad; he said his best advice would be to make sure that you find a way to both get rest and to keep talking to each other.


3. How can new-dads get in touch with you/get support from your organisation?

It is my mission to support new parents and families and I'd love to hear from you, you can get in touch directly at my email, thehappybabyhive@gamil.com or via my website www.thehappybabyhive.co.uk or you can find me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/thehappybabyhive or Instagram ttps://www.instagram.com/thehappybabyhive/


Becoming a new dad is a huge change in your life and it takes time to adjust, make sure you go easy on yourself and take time for you and your partner to adjust and adapt to a totally new way of life. Remember that if you need any extra support or help there are organisations and people out there to help; don't hesitate to get in touch, I'd be more than happy to help and point you in the right direction, if needed. Save this article for later or share with a another new dad or expectant dad. And remember, you're doing an amazing job!


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