Reaching out to other dads for support during pregnancy and beyond

Michael is a dad of 3, Bentley (5) Aurelia (3) and then Everley-Quinn who was born 12th September 2020 during the covid-19 pandemic. Michael opens up about the ups and downs of fatherhood and highlights the importance of building a support network and talking to others about struggles you are experiencing.

Photo of Michael and his kids

Published 11/11/20

We found out we were expecting Everley-Quinn on 25th January 2020. The whole pregnancy journey was up and down due to my wife's underlying health condition and the lockdown restrictions. We had a miscarriage last year, which was upsetting for both myself and my wife, but we knew we wanted another child, and decided to try again.

For me, being in lockdown during the pregnancy was really difficult. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to go to the 12-week scan with my wife. After going through a previous miscarriage, I was so nervous about it and even more so that I couldn't go with her to the scan. All I could do was wait for a phone call to say everything was okay.

Missing out on all the scans and doctors appointments during the pregnancy made me feel very disconnected from the baby. Yes, I could feel her move sometimes, but for me it just didn't feel the same as with the other two pregnancies. 

Near the end of the pregnancy, my wife had reduced movements. I wasn’t able to go into the hospital and had to wait in the car. Eventually, I went home and within 20 minutes or so I got a phone call to say she was going to be induced and I could go back to be with her.

Managing mental health

Since becoming a dad, it's been a rollercoaster of a ride. With my oldest, I was fine. I had down days, where I felt I didn't know what I was doing, but that didn't get me down too much. My second child Aurelia suffered from cmpa but we didn't get told till around 6 months. During this time, my mental health took a massive turn. My wife noticed I was down a lot and said speaking to someone could help, so I contacted the doctor. They recommended I started taking some medication to help and I ended up doing some counselling as well. It felt uncomfortable at first, but I'm so glad I did it.

I actually feel that being in lockdown and having more time together since Everley-Quinn was born has definitely helped me and my wife be in a better place, both mentally and emotionally. Generally, if I am finding things difficult to copy with, I try to get out of the situation for a while. I go for a walk and clear my head. I think it helps to just talk to people, even if I don't know them, and not even about the problems or feelings themselves.

Connecting with other dads

I never thought I would be a guy to open up on social media and talk to other people about issues like this. But I'm glad I did. I started up a social media account as a bit of a joke, to see if I could get more followers than my wife. I started following more dads and mums online, and have found that it helps so much talking to other parents. I found a dad's app as well called Dad AF, which is fantastic if I need to vent or ask for advice. 

I didn't open up about my mental health until my wife was 6 months pregnant with our second baby. I personally would say to any dads out there, find a support network. Talk to your mates who are already dads and if you don’t know many, search for others via social media or support groups. There are so many out there willing to talk and not just about their kids. I'm part of a dad's live chat every week. It's not as lonely as you first think.

We're here to support you

Although we've had to temporarily close our support line as our midwives have moved to homeworking, our Tommy's midwives are still here to support you.

We are working hard to provide the best support and information we can during a time of extra anxiety and worry for parents.

Watch out for updates and contact us on the following platforms:

If you have non-urgent questions, we have developed Tommy's Midwife, a skill for Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa that answers many pregnancy queries, including some about COVID-19.

Read more about the Tommy's Midwife Alexa skill here

Other places to go for support

It's important to remember that there are different forms of treatment available, from talking therapies to medication. The first step is to seek support from your GP. There are also dedicated mental health organisations and support groups where you can find help: 

Mind

You can contact Mind’s Infoline 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday on 0300 123 3393.
Text them on 86463, or email [email protected].

CALM

The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) offer support to any man who is down or in crisis online, over the phone on 0800 58 58 58, or on webchat.

PANDAS Dads

PANDAS Dads have a private Facebook support group to help dads going through and anxiety and/or those who are supporting their partner with perinatal mental illness.

Samaritans

Day or night, Samaritans are there if you need to talk. Call them on 116 123.

SMS4dads

SMS4dads gives dads information and connects them to online services by text. As well as this, every three weeks you get an interactive ‘How’s it going?” message. Give it a try.

Dad AF app

The Dad Chat, by Dad AF, is a digital support network for dads. It offers a space for dads to connect, from pregnancy through to those with teenage children.

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