A father of two has opened up about his battle with paternal postpartum depression after the birth of his daughter.
Fireman Mike Simms appeared on This Morning with wife Effie to share his story, explaining that he hoped to raise awareness of the fact that postpartum (or postnatal) depression, which is also referred to as PND, doesn’t only affect new mothers.
Admitting that he felt like a ‘failure as a father’, Mike said: ‘We meticulously planned the baby, my wife’s a teacher so we’d gone for the school holidays. We’d been to classes, painted the nursery, we were really excited.
‘Then the birth came. I’m not going to say it’s traumatic for me cos for for the wife it’s horrendous, but I felt it was my fault, it takes two to tango, I’ve done this to her and it was horrendous to watch.’
He added that his difficulty bonding with daughter Monroe happened almost immediately: ‘Afterwards you’re given this small pink person, so I’ve got hold of Monroe and it’s the first time I’ve met her.’
All images: ITV/This Morning
Explaining that his wife had nine months to feel the baby grow and kick, Mike said he felt like meeting his child was simply an introduction: ‘I thought I’d feel a massive rush of emotion, a connection, but it was just like meeting somebody new. I felt totally disconnected, I thought there was something wrong.’
After Monroe came home, the problem became more obvious.
‘I wasn’t jealous of the baby taking Effie’s attention away from me, I was jealous of the bond they had. When she would cry, I felt at the time she hated me I couldn’t do anything to soothe her, look after her, but when she went to Effie she’d go quiet.’
Effie, Mike’s childhood sweetheart, admitted she’d noticed the change in his mood: ‘He didn’t seem to be enjoying it, we began bickering and arguing, which we never did before,’ she said. ‘I said “look, you need to go and speak to someone, we’re not working as a family unit”‘.
With the support of his wife, Mike sought support from his GP and then underwent private counselling, which he believed had worked for him – progress that was reflected after the arrival of the couple’s second child.
‘Now we’ve got our second child Leo and everything I wanted to have with Monroe I’ve got with him,’ he reported, although when asked if he and Monroe now had a strong bond too, he replied with an enthusiastic ‘Oh yes!’
Dr Jonty Heaversedge, who joined the couple to comment on the issue of paternal depression, said: ‘Men don’t like talking about their feelings, whether it’s after a birth or any other time. Men don’t seek help, and it’s really important to talk about it. The act of sharing is a huge relief and often that’s the most important thing you can do.’
‘It’s so important that we acknowledge this as a real issue’.
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According to the National Childbirth Trust, an estimated 10% of new mums suffer from PND, but it is now also recognised that either parent is likely to be affected by concern about the other.
Research from NCT found that more than 1 in 3 new fathers (38%) are concerned about their mental health. In general, studies have shown that one in 10 dads has PND and fathers also appear to be more likely to suffer from depression three to six months after their baby is born.