The impact on dads of witnessing childbirth

Many dads find it hard to witness a complicated birth and may feel they can’t talk about the experience easily. So how do we support dads better?

man mental health decline


Are you working longer hours due to the cost of living crisis? Do you feel pressure to be the main earner and how was being present at the birth for you, if you were there? We asked a small group of dads for their views and the results were interesting.

Of the dads who had been present at the birth of their child, which was most of them, over half said the birth had been complicated and the vast majority said this had been a difficult, sometimes harrowing experience. The words used to describe how it made them feel were ‘very sad’, ‘worried for both my wife and baby’, ‘scared’ and ‘angry and scared for my wife’. Only half of these dads had spoken to someone about their feelings.

Half of the dads worked over 35 hours a week, with a quarter doing over 45 hours a week, and well over a third did more than one job. Half felt pressure to be the main earner, but most accepted this, although half said it made them feel depressed. Two thirds had increased their hours or changed jobs due to the cost of living crisis. Most did not share childcare equally with their partners. The majority of those who grew up with dads said their own dad worked long hours.

Mental health

There is growing interest in the mental health of dads as campaigners such as Mark Williams lead the call for more support and greater awareness.

His self-published new book, How are you, dad?, begins with an account of his own traumatic experience of becoming a dad. His wife was taken for an emergency c-section back in 2004 and he thought she was going to die. She then developed severe postnatal depression. Mark had to leave his job to care for her and his newborn son.  His mental health went into freefall and he admits to suffering from uncontrollable suicidal thoughts.

He wants to see greater recognition of the different ways having children can affect dads’ mental wellbeing, including post-natal depression in dads, which he says is linked to a mix of hormonal changes, sleep deprivation, stress, relationship issues, financial concerns and a history of mental health problems –  issues that are made worse by the enhanced stigma for men seeking help for mental health problems and the lack of inclusion of dads in parenting discussions, Williams argues. He would like to see dads’ wellbeing considered in post-natal checks and more support groups for dads generally. 

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your Franchise Selection

Click the button below to register your interest with all the franchises in your selection

Request FREE Information Now

Your Franchise Selection

This franchise opportunity has been added to your franchise selection



Click the button below to register your interest with all the franchises in your selection

Request FREE Information Now

You may be interested in these similar franchises