Peri and Postnatal Mental Health Campaign

OneLife Suffolk has partnered with Suffolk County Council Public Health Department and other organisations, hospitals and support groups to promote awareness of postnatal mental health with a particular focus on fathers.

Fathers’ mental health and wellbeing has attracted more media attention in recent times. However there is still stigma and lack of support around this subject. We know that as men become fathers they face many changes and new challenges, as women do, which can increase stress and have a negative impact on their mental wellbeing!

Becoming a Dad is life-changing it is the greatest job you will ever have! but it does come with pressures!

Contents

How dads feel

EPIC dads

EPIC dads survival guide

Reaction to your partner becoming pregnant

What does mum think?

Suffolk dads experience

Keep Calm!

Suffolk Bloomin

Useful links

MECC

 

How dads feel:

“Felt like I’d aged 10 years in that moment!”

“A healthy dad is a better dad”

“People ask how’s mum, how’s baby, but no one ever asks how are you?”

“One of the biggest life -changing moments of my life

 It was quite isolating at times”.

“You were a partner before you became a dad!”.

EPIC dads

EPIC dads are a Community Interest Company with a focus on supporting fathers, father figures, and families.  The letters of E.P.I.C. stand for:

  • Encourager
  • Provider
  • Instructer
  • Carer

 

4 important roles of a father or father figure we want to celebrate and encourage within families and communities.

EPIC dads survival guide

Becoming a dad is life changing and is the greatest job we will ever have in our lives. It is an amazing privilege, but also an awesome responsibility, to raise a child. You are not on your own as support is available and the ‘EPIC Dad Survival Session’ is designed to help new fathers and father figures to embrace their role and not just survive, but thrive, in family life. Also, we hope you benefit from the gift of an EPIC Dad Survival Kit which is a helpful backpack especially for dads filled with leaflets and practical items for the new dad and your new baby

A preparation and support group for new and expectant dads, including the free gift of an EPIC Dad Survival Kit (filled with useful items for the new dad and your new born baby)

From 6 pm to 8 pm on the first Friday of the Month.

For more information:

EPIC dads 

Survival session topics:

  • Introduction (Preparing for Fatherhood)
  • Survival Dads (A Father’s Readiness)
  • Devoted Dads (A Father’s Relationships)
  • Generational Dads (A Father’s Roles)
  • Conclusion (EPIC Fatherhood)

 

 

EPIC dad backpack

Generally include 10 items (5 for dad and 5 for baby) in the EPIC Dad Survival Kit which are:

 For dad

  • Bottle of water
  • Instant coffee sachets
  • Chocolate bars
  • Cereal bars
  • Baby on board car window sign

 For babies

  • Nappies
  • Wet wipes
  • Nappy sacks
  • Rattle
  • ‘My Dad’ Children’s Book

Also, lots of information leaflets with advice and support and information about groups for dads and families ran by EPIC Dad and other organisations.

What was your reaction to your partner becoming pregnant? and what would you tell your younger self?

What does mum think?

Suffolk dad David shares his experience of being a new parent.

 

“I didn’t actually suffer mental health problems as such, but I suppose I came close. My wife was very ill and had to stay in a mother and baby unit (with my newborn daughter) for the best part of five months. To make things worse, it was about an hour and a half away! In some ways, the worst part was the driving – about three hours a day spent wondering when my wife would get better, or if my daughter was being cared for properly. Thankfully she was – the hospital she was in provided round the clock care for both.

 

There’s a powerlessness that comes with being a new parent, in that you have to just drop everything and feed or change a newborn whenever he or she needs it. That powerlessness frustrated me even before my wife was ill. You expect it of course, but it adds up over the days and weeks you spend waiting for your baby to settle into something resembling a routine! This was made worse for me because I was also waiting for my wife to get better, and for the treatment to start to show some signs of working. It felt like life was on pause until a doctor I had never met before gave us the thumbs up.

 

The loss of control, the inability to do any work and the long car journeys stacked up, and I think I was probably a bit angrier during that period than usual. If I hadn’t made use of my usual outlets (going to the football and going for a run) I think I may have exploded. If I could pass on one piece of advice to new parents, it would be to try to retain those means of releasing stress. I didn’t run as much as I usually would, but I regret that because I think I would have coped better if I had done. Obviously running and your usual hobbies are harder to pursue initially, but once you get some semblance of routine, finding healthy ways to release stress and frustration is essential.”

David

Keep Calm

Babies are constantly learning how to communicate with you and whilst they do not yet have the words to tell us what they want, some say there is a baby language that we can understand!

Physical cues

Ear pulling = may mean tiredness Hiccuping = may mean tiredness

Gaze aversion = may mean tiredness/over stimulation Pulling up legs = can often be a reflex action when a baby is upset! Going red = may mean crying for too long/overheated

Blue outline to lips = may mean trapped wind

Sticking tongue out/rooting/putting fingers in their mouth = may mean hung

Verbal Cues

 

As well as physical cues, babies can give up to five verbal cues as well, which may indicate crying is near! The sounds to look out for are:

The “NEH” sound = may mean hunger.

The “OW” sound = may mean tiredness.

The “HEH” sound = may mean discomfort – it may be that baby’s nappy needs changing, they are too hot, or too cold.

The “EH” sound = may mean baby needs to be burped.

The “EAIR” sound = may mean lower gas – try massaging or using colic holds to remove air bubbles.

Suffolk Bloomin

The Suffolk Bloomin’ and Suffolk Bloomin’ Extra magazines have been put together to help mum’s and dads, family and friends think about how they can bring up baby to be as happy and healthy as possible.

For more information about suffolk Bloomin Visit the Healthy Suffolk website

Parenting programmes

List of parenting support programmes for parents and carers in Suffolk and how to book onto a parenting programme.

Parenting programmes are run by Suffolk County Council and partner organisations in the voluntary and community sector.

The programmes bring experienced workers, parents and carers together.

The Fatherhood Institute is one of the most respected fatherhood organisations in the world. A registered UK charity (number 1075104), our work focuses on policy, research and practice.

Our vision is of a society in which there’s a great dad for every child – a society that:

  • gives all children a strong and positive relationship with their father and any father-figures
  • supports both mothers and fathers as earners and carers, and
  • prepares boys and girls for a future shared role in caring for children.

Dads Matter UK is here to provide support for dads worried about or suffering from Depression, Anxiety and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Everyone has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life. For example, you may feel worried and anxious about being a dad and if you will be good enough. This is just like what mothers experience. During times like these, feeling anxious can be perfectly normal.

Every Dad, connected to parenting resources, entertainment and each other

Home-Start Mid and West Suffolk offers support, friendship and practical help to parents with young children throughout the Mid and West Suffolk areas.

Home-Start offers a unique service. We recruit and train volunteers who have parenting experience themselves and offer families informal, friendly and confidential support.

  • Parents ask for Home-Start’s help for all sorts of reasons:
  • They may feel lonely or isolated in their community, have no family nearby or be struggling to make friends
  • They may be finding it hard to cope because of their own or a child’s physical or mental illness
  • They may be finding it hard to talk to anyone
  • They may be suffering increased stress and finding things overwhelming

MECC

A baby on the way or a new arrival can put lots of pressure on partner. As part of our campaign on supporting partners and dads before and after the birth of a baby, we are holding open Make Every Contact Count (MECC) training. These sessions will give guidance on how to start a conversation and signposting to support organisations. These MECC sessions are free and open to not just medical professionals but anyone in the community and employers who would come in contact with new parents. The sessions also welcome partners and dads who feel they need support.

Will you make a pledge to support the campaign, do your bit to raise awareness of the issue and let other know they are not alone?

Contact healthandwellbeing@suffolk.org.uk to pledge and get your badge!