What about Dad?

You lie in bed, hearing the cries coming from the crib. The baby’s awake again, but you are so tired you dread getting out of bed. The days and nights are starting to blur together, and you’ve lost track of feedings and diaper changes. In your darker moments, you long for that time when there was just the two of you, with lots of time after work to relax together over dinner, watch a movie, and cuddle.  No one told you that fatherhood was going to be like this.Father and baby watching television

With all the focus on perinatal mood disorders and how moms cope after babies are born – and, believe me, I think those discussions are very important – it’s easy for fathers to get lost in the shuffle. Dads can be so busy trying to help their partners and keep on top of work and other concerns that they ignore their own mental health. Look at the following statistics:

Worried father and baby crying

  • 1 in 20 men experience anxiety or depression during their partner’s pregnancy
  • 1 in 10 new dads struggle with anxiety or depression in the year following the birth of their baby


But – wait a minute, you say – fathers don’t give birth to babies or have hormonal changes, so what causes mood shifts? Turns out you would be wrong on one count – fathers-to-be and new fathers do experience decreases in testosterone during pregnancy and after the baby’s birth. And while this may help dads to be more in tune with their infants (yay!) those hormonal changes can also be linked to fatigue and depression. Add onto that the other stresses (pressure at work, less income) and the interrupted sleep (sigh…the baby’s awake again) and you can begin to see why new fathers may become depressed and/or anxious.

So what’s a Dad to do? Here are a few tips from the experts:

  • Have a healthy diet (think lots of water, protein, greens, and healthy carbs)
  • Dust off that treadmill – exercise can reduce stress, reset your brain, and boost energy. Better yet – wear your baby when you walk or run.
  • Sleep whenever you can. Take shifts with your partner so you are not both awake caring for the baby at all times.
  • Plan ahead for small periods of time doing something you enjoy – watching the game or show, grabbing a coffee, washing your car.
  • Connect with other Dads. In your family, your neighbourhood, your workplace, or online seek out advice and info from fathers who have been down or are going down this road. Think of this as looking for a parenting coach. And check out an EarlyOn Child & Family Centre running Dads/kids groups in Burlington, Oakville, and Georgetown.

Pensive dad with his baby at the beach

Finally, be gentle with yourself. When a baby is born, so is a parent. Adapt to the idea of learning as you go, without an orientation period or instruction manual (although there’s one here that is great for the newborn days). Your baby is not keeping track of your mistakes, but absorbing the sound of your voice and feel of your touch. And slowly you’ll realize this is what you were told about fatherhood – it’s an amazing experience, and the most important work you’ll ever do.

What helped you adjust to fatherhood? Connect with us. We would love to hear from you.

For parenting information or to speak with a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000

About this guest blogger:

Janet Siverns:

Picture of Janet Siverns

I have worked as a Public Health Nurse with Halton Region for many years. On any given week you will find me at one of our Prenatal Nutrition (HPNP) or Adjusting to Parenthood (A2P) groups. I enjoy having supportive conversations about mental health. As a survivor of perinatal mood disorders (PMD), I have a passion for helping new parents navigate the sometimes challenging transition to parenthood. When not at work, I enjoy the company of my grandchildren  and going for walks with my goldendoodle Finnegan.

Posted in Babies, Depression & Anxiety After Birth, Depression & Anxiety During Pregnancy, Parenting, Parenting Your Baby, Pregnancy | Tagged | Leave a comment

From your baby, with love

Hi Mommy – it’s me again.

Baby sleeping on mom's chest skin to skin

Yes, it’s dark outside, but I can’t read clocks and all I know is that I need you. When I wake up because my tummy is grumbling, I need you. Continue reading

Posted in Babies, Breastfeeding Your Baby, Depression & Anxiety After Birth, Depression & Anxiety During Pregnancy, Parenting, Parenting Your Baby, Parenting Your Toddler & Preschooler, Toddlers & Preschoolers | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Things are going missing…how to teach your preschooler to be trustworthy.

My friend had placed a box of chocolate bars for a fundraiser on her hall table. She was happy to see they were disappearing quickly and assumed her husband must have sold a bunch of them at work.

Four year old girl eating large chocolate bar with pleasure Continue reading

Posted in Keeping Your Toddler & Preschooler Safe, Parenting, Parenting Your Toddler & Preschooler, Play, Growth & Development, Preparing for Kindergarten, Toddlers & Preschoolers | Tagged | 16 Comments

5 essential tips for your child’s first dental visit

When I took my son to the dentist for the first time, he was about three years old. It was a disaster! And this was a child who was normally happy, agreeable, social, and who listened to reason! He did not want to open his mouth for this stranger (the dentist) and when he finally did, he started crying and the dentist could not continue. That was the start of many fearful visits to the dentist!

Looking back, if we’d started visiting the dentist earlier in his life, I feel he wouldn’t have been so fearful. I now know more about first dental visits and also about the care of gums and first teeth.  So I’m going to share what I know with those of you who are expecting, or have an infant, to help make your experiences more positive.

1 year old baby being held by mom as dentist exams mouth Continue reading

Posted in Babies, Breastfeeding Your Baby, Breastfeeding Your Child, Children & Tweens, Feeding Your Baby in the First Year, Healthy Eating for Toddlers & Preschoolers, Healthy Eating for Your Child/Tween, Keeping Your Baby Safe, Keeping Your Child/Tween Safe, Keeping Your Toddler & Preschooler Safe, Parenting, Parenting Your Child/Tween, Parenting Your Toddler & Preschooler, Play, Growth & Development, Play, Growth & Development for Babies, Pregnancy, Toddlers & Preschoolers | Tagged | 1 Comment

The holidays are over… now what?

So here we are in a New Year. The hustle and bustle of the holidays are behind us – the decorating, shopping, gift-giving and entertaining are all done.  We hear all around us that it is time for new beginnings. Gym memberships beckon and headlines encourage us to eat well and spend less. I should feel energized, optimistic, and excited, right?  So why do I feel, well, flat?

Sad woman looking out window

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Posted in Babies, Depression & Anxiety After Birth, Depression & Anxiety During Pregnancy, Parenting, Parenting Your Baby, Parenting Your Teen, Teens | Leave a comment

How grandma can be an awesome breastfeeding support

I remember how exciting it was for my husband and me when we had our first newborn! However, I also recall feeling overwhelmed by the exhaustion, breastfeeding challenges, caring for the baby and household chores! Breastfeeding and bonding with my baby were so important to me – but how could I do it all??

ENTER: my mom!

Happy Asian family at home

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Posted in Babies, Before Pregnancy, Breastfeeding Your Baby, Parenting, Parenting Your Baby, Preparing to Breastfeed | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

All you need to know about vaping

Vaping is gaining popularity with youth. My teens claim everyone’s doing it and the statistics are showing a rise in use. In 2017, more Ontario students in grades 7-12 had used e-cigarettes compared to tobacco cigarettes. About one-in-ten students (around 80,800 in Ontario), report using more than just a few puffs of vape, with or without nicotine, in the past year.

Two women vaping outdoor. The evening sunset over the city. Toned image

Vapes also known as e-cigarettes , vape pens, mods and tank systems are battery operated devices that change a liquid into an aerosol that is inhaled.

An important question to ask ourselves is “should we be worried about vaping?”

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Posted in Alcohol, Tobacco & Drugs, Children & Tweens, Emotional Well-Being & Mental Health for Your Child/Tween, Emotional Well-Being & Mental Health for Your Teen, Parenting, Parenting Your Child/Tween, Parenting Your Teen, Teen Brain, Transition to High School | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments