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

  • Exercising regularly

  • 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

  • Irritability

  • Anger

  • Lashing out

  • Hyperfocus on work as distraction

  • Self-blame

  • Lack of focus and motivation

  • Isolation

  • Impulsiveness and taking risks, like reckless driving or extra-marital affairs

  • Substance abuse

  • Suicidal thoughts

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.

If you find yourself feeling

hopeless - overwhelmed - unable to function

please ask to speak to a mental health provider

For further support, we recommend visiting Grieving Dads and Love Comma Dad.