for help, explains the Alberta FatherInvolvement Initiative. The stiff upperlip stereotype of masculinity still holdsback many new dads and partners fromtalking about how they feel and gettinghelp. Breaking the sense of isolationcreated by a mental illness such as thebaby blues (a form of depression) is acritical step to feeling better.
“If you’re down in the first twoweeks postpartum, it’s called the blues.We call it postpartum depression if itpersists and begins to interfere witheveryday life,” says Nicole Letourneau,a University of Calgary professor ofnursing and the Alberta Children’sHospital Foundation Chair in Parent-Infant Mental Health.
Postpartum depression, Letourneausays, affects 10 per cent of men and 10to 15 per cent of women. Symptoms ofdepression include a loss of interest inactivities that used to be enjoyable andan inability to look after yourself andthose in your care.
Letourneau suggests building asupport team before baby arrives.Ask friends to stock the freezer withcasseroles, make a list of childcarecontacts and even arrange help withchores such as laundry and vacuuming.
“I always say to parents that if you can’t
ask for help when you’re a new parent,
when can you?” Carving out time for
yourself, whether for an afternoon nap,
walking around the block or playing
ping-pong with friends, can be the
answer to boosting mental health.
It took about two months for Corbettto overcome his depression. “The lovestarted to come back,” he says, and hewas able to respond to his daughter’slaughter and gurgles. Looking back,Corbett says those initial rocky weekshelped him grow into a confident andcompetent parent.
POSTPARTUM HELPFOR DADS AND MOMS
It’s a strength to ask for help. Ifyou’re a parent who’s feeling blueor depressed for more than twoweeks after your baby is born,you can find help by asking yourfamily or primary care doctor formental health support or:
• Connecting to community
services and programs such
– Alberta’s Parent Link Centres
( parentlinkalberta.ca or
– Postpartum groups andclasses for dads, momsand couples offered byCalgary’s Families Matter( familiesmatter.ca)
– One of Alberta’s ninechapters of the CanadianMental Health Association( cmha.ca)
– Alberta Health Service’sphone service Health Link(811).
affects 10 per cent
of men and 10 to 15
per cent of women
Several studies underline theimportance of community support tothe well-being of mothers—and thelong-term health of their children.With 10 per cent of mothersexperiencing postpartum depression,support is most effective when it beginsbefore birth.
Prenatal programs help mothersunderstand the importance of goodphysical and mental health duringpregnancy and after the birth of theirchild. |a