Fathers Grieve, Too
Pregnancy and infant loss impacts fathers in different ways.
If a pregnancy did not end in the birth of a live infant or if a newborn passed in infancy, fathers need to process their experience and be supported to grieve in their own unique way after the loss of a child.
FATHERS OFTEN EXPERIENCE DELAYED GRIEF…WHY?
Focus is usually on the mother
Fathers tend to assume a supportive role and neglect their own grief
Societal pressure to act strong
Limited outlets for expression of father’s grief
Lack of recognition of father’s grief
Stigma, which may prevent parents from talking about their own feelings of grief and loss
WHAT CAN BE HELPFUL WHEN YOU’VE EXPERIENCED A LOSS?
Individual counseling - create space to process your own emotions
Couples counseling - can improve communication and help you better understand your partner's journey
Connecting with your partner (mutual massage, 2-minute hug, couples yoga)
Seeking social support (pre-existing social networks or faith communities)
Attending a bereavement support group
Spending time outdoors
Getting enough sleep
Eating nutritious foods
Setting time limits and boundaries for work
SIGNS OF GRIEF AND TRAUMA IN MEN FOLLOWING PREGNANCY OR INFANT LOSS
Flat affect/lack of emotion
Hyperfocus on work as distraction
Lack of focus and motivation
Impulsiveness and taking risks, like reckless driving or extra-marital affairs
BASIC FACTS ABOUT PATERNAL MENTAL HEALTH
Postpartum depression affects 10-25% of dads, regardless if there is a live baby.
24-50% of male partners of women with postpartum depression report depression themselves.
Up to 18% of male partners report postpartum anxiety.
Prior history of depression/anxiety puts fathers at a higher risk of developing postpartum depression/anxiety.
After birth loss or trauma, men have the same risk of developing PTSD as their partners.