Updated: Mar 11, 2021
Little by little, postpartum depression is being discussed more frequently, and it is starting to be understood and put in context. Mental health issues cannot be considered as individual health problems. They are usually caused by the environment and because the social structure is becoming more and more disconnected to the natural human needs and physiology.
As Rachelle Garcia Seliga so well says, "Maternal health is perpetually seen through a lens of pathology. Mothers are often entered as ‘the problem’ in regards to maternal mental health."
However, it is not only women who suffer due to the lack of support and community.
Today I am having a conversation with Roberto Cuncu, transformational coach and father to discuss what can lead to postpartum depression in men.
What is post-partum depression in men in your understanding?
It is the consequence of several events before the childbirth.
The cause can be relationship related: the future mother and father find themselves in an unknown situation, the relationship is not profound enough, something changes in the couple dynamics: the mother is biologically involved in pregnancy and birth, the man can feel emotionally very disturbed, cannot share his feelings, can get very confused. He doesn’t know his role in this new situation.
Men experience prenatal depression as well, since they have no reference on how to prepare themselves, men often don’t know what to do (apart from putting the baby to bed or changing his or her nappies)
Many men find themselves confused already during the mother’s pregnancy. The mother is changing, feeling different.
Since there is less community, men don’t have emotional support, and don’t see other examples close by, within the family or friends, where they can identify.
When the baby arrives, men are usually already confused. They feel lost. They feel disconnected from the whole event; the new baby confuses men even more. They don’t know anymore how to position themselves. Before the mother was gestating, but now she gives all her time and attention to the baby, breastfeeding, she doesn’t sleep enough, and the man cannot help too much. Since he cannot help with breastfeeding either.
Women are isolated when staying home alone with the baby, sometimes their emotional needs are not supported, they can feel lonely and in a crisis and men don’t understand what is going on, so they retire themselves - they work more, they are away often.
They try to see their friends to seek support, they go to the bar to socialise with their peers as they did before and are afraid to go home where they feel helpless.
The social paradigm is the biggest problem: the man has to provide, has no emotional role, the sensitive man doesn’t know how to get away from the socially accepted rules, they feel alone. They cannot express themselves - and it worsens throughout the years. The child is there to stay, the mom is involved in nurturing the baby. The fathers feel more and more isolated. This leads to the relationship to worsen.
Some men are depressed without knowing, they only realise that their relationship is not that deep as they thought it would be.
How can a transformational coach help men in this situation?
The most sensitive way during a coaching session is to help the client explore in depth what is happening to him. It is not an invasive way and the client can understand his emotional state and the reasons behind it.
Through coaching, solutions can be found that help with better communication and establish an open dialogue. It creates a safe space for the client to discover himself, and his real needs.
So he will be able to show up with his partner and his child in a sensitive and responsable way.
(Roberto is a certified transformational coach who works with clients from all over the world through video and/or telephone calls. If you wish to get in touch with him, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org)