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Time to recognise that new dads will feel pressure too.

Byline: CHARLOTTE WARD

THERE is no doubt that mothers go through a lot when a new baby is born, yet the way in which becoming a parent affects fathers is often ignored.

"How are you coping?" is a common question we ask new mums as they navigate the challenges a baby can bring. But while health workers are primed to spot postnatal depression in women, fathers are often overlooked.

A study has revealed that up to a quarter of all dads suffer from paternal PND, yet 65 per cent of the 2000 men asked said it was difficult to admit the emotional health problems associated with parenting.

A man's changes when A US study, published in the journal Hormones and Behavior, supports research that men have substantial biological responses to fatherhood.

Neuropsychiatrist Louann Brizendine, author of book The Male Brain, said: "A man's brain changes when he becomes a father. His testosterone level will decline by 25 per cent, while his prolactin (the parenting hormone) increases by 30 per cent to help him adapt to the nurturing role of fatherhood."

As well as experiencing hormonal shifts, today's fathers are under enormous pressure to "man up" and provide emotional, financial and hands-on caretaking of infants because family members often live far apart and women are more likely to work, added Dr Brizendine.

She added: "Fathers are expected to pick up the slack but aren't often given the credit they deserve or support they need."

Therapist Esther-Maria Lindner, who helps families prepare for the challenges of parenthood with her holistic program (aparaba.com), said new dads often feel unprepared.

Linder added: "During the first year with a new baby, I often witness couples go through major difficulties, yet they are unwilling to call in support from the outside."

According to Dr Brizendine, new fathers can develop PPND (paternal postnatal depression) with symptoms including sadness, anger, loss of interest, sleep problems, no sex drive and low energy STRUGGLING PPND symptoms are easily treated by a doctor or therapist but the man has to acknowledge he is struggling in the first place.

Dr Brizendine said an important starting point is to ask new fathers how they are coping.

She added: "PPND can occur any time before or after the baby is born, up to one year. So if you know a new father, ask him if you can help. He will appreciate it."

Any new parent knows that sleep deprivation, prolonged crying and a steady flow of dirty nappies will put a strain on your relationship. To survive those challenges, couples need to find a way to continue to connect.

Olivia Horne, happiness coach at &Breathe wellbeing workshops for parents (andbreathepostnatal.com), said: "Have a no-phone zone every day to connect with each other and talk about your day, from both sides."

A man's brain changes when he becomes a father

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STRUGGLES Some new fathers need help coping with becoming a parent

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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Nov 14, 2017
Words:490
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