Loss and grief.
Loss and grief is a normal aspect of becoming a new dad yet it is not often talked about. Holding a sense of loss and grief alongside the joy of becoming a dad can feel confusing for many men. Often new dads feel shocked, guilty and ashamed by their feelings of loss and grief. So they often push their feelings deep down inside.
Try to remember that it is common for new dads to feel the loss of a part of their sense of who they are, activities they enjoyed or their relationship with their partner. It can take some time to adjust to what they might have lost. It can also take some time to really appreciate the new things they have gained. Some new dads feel ashamed by this unexpected grief and if their feelings are not addressed it can impact their mental health and wellbeing. It's important to know that your partner might have similar feelings.
Myths about parenthood
The arrival of a new baby is a time of excitement for most families. Mixed in with the joy there is often some anxiety as well. It is also a time where many men learn that being a dad is more complicated than they had expected. That many of the beliefs they had grown up with about being a dad were actually myths.
Common myths about parenting can add a sense of pressure to feel nothing but positive emotions about the birth and meeting and caring for the baby. This can cause confusion and anxiety when some or the less pleasant feelings common to new dads occur, such as anxiety about learning to be a father and uncertainty about the new reality he is facing.
Experiencing loss during parenthood
Sometimes people have experienced losses on the road to conception and parenthood. Complex losses can include a traumatic birth, premature birth, past miscarriages, stillbirth, IVF or relationship breakdowns. Once a healthy baby is born, new mums and dads are often encouraged to forget these losses.
Apart from adding to the confusion, this can also affect people’s capacity to connect with their hidden grief once their child is born. When a new parent’s grief is not given time and space to be heard their grief may become more complex and can lead to postnatal mental health issues such as depression or anxiety.
Losses associated with becoming a parent
Here at PANDA we speak to thousands of new mums and dads living with postnatal anxiety or depression each year. Many of our callers tell us they feel bad about their feelings of loss when they should be focused on the joy of bringing a baby in the world.
If you are experiencing difficulties dealing with any of these kinds of losses, especially if it leads to symptoms that affect your day-to-day functioning, we recommend you seek support.