Nursery Today magazine

Ergobaby commissions research focussing on dads

A third of dads claim to suffer depression after the birth of their baby, according to new research.

The nationwide study revealed that more than a third (34 percent) of British fathers claim they’ve experienced post-natal depression, with almost two thirds feeling anxious after the birth of their child and a third admitting they had found it hard to bond with their baby.

When asked how they felt embarking on this new journey, a quarter (24 per cent) of new dads said they felt under “massive pressure” to provide for their family, whilst 22 per cent found the lack of sleep debilitating. 

A fifth (21%) said they felt overwhelmed by their new responsibilities, 16 percent hated no longer having time to do the things they enjoy, and 15% feeling like they were failing their family.

The research commissioned by Ergobaby UK, also revealed that half (49%) of new dads felt a sense of shame for struggling to cope. When asked were this pressure came from 40% felt judged by family members, 32% by friends and more than a third of new dads felt pressure from society as a whole, with one in ten told to simply “get a grip”.

Little wonder then that more than half (55 per cent) of UK fathers don’t talk about their baby struggles, and instead suffer in silence. 

And two in five British dads have been made to feel embarrassed for playing an active parenting role such as taking shared parental leave to wearing their baby in a carrier or pushing the pram. 

Recent high-profile criticism of celebrity dads in the public eye may have contributed to this behaviour, with one celebrity dad controversially being told that carrying his baby “emasculated” him, by a high-profile journalist, just last year. 

A staggering 84 per cent of those surveyed believed the impact of childbirth on dads goes unrecognised, and 72 percent claimed there isn’t enough support for new fathers. While it is well recognised that mothers can experience mental health problems post-partum, little attention is paid to their partners.

Amanda Loveday, Marketing Manager at Ergobaby UK said of the findings: ‘‘This research shows that we aren’t giving dads the tools or time to adjust to parenthood. By championing simple actions such as babywearing – which can reduce stress and increases bonding – or talking openly and without shame about fears and concerns, we can better equip new dads to enjoy the positives of parenthood.”

Babywearing was in fact named as one of the top three ways for British dads to bond with their baby according to the study, with 62 percent of dads believing carrying their baby helped them form their bond, it seems these choices should be encouraged and cheered on rather than shamed.

The other two most popular activities for creating a connection with their child were playing with their baby (71 percent) and talking to the baby (66 percent).

60 percent added that putting the baby to sleep helped them bond with their child, 57 percent said giving the child a bath and 52 percent thought dads should give the baby its bottle as often as possible. 

And with a whopping 9 in every 10 dads (88 percent) saying they would have found it useful if there was more information available to new dads about bonding with their child it’s clear there is an appetite to learn more.

Despite their struggles, however, the survey of more than 1,000 British dads saw an overwhelming 92 percent saying they wouldn’t change being a dad for anything and 96 percent thought being a dad was the best experience ever. 

Al Ferguson, founder of leading parenting network TheDadsNet commented: “The early months of parenthood are especially hard, with anxiety, isolation and depression being increasingly common amongst new fathers.  However, this often goes undiagnosed due to the perceived shame or guilt felt by men.
“Perinatal health matters for both mums and dads and establishing a good bond early on – through implementing simple steps such as babywearing or speaking to friends and family – can really help mental wellbeing for parents and children.”

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