Help for new fathers

Help for Dads | Postpartum Support International (PSI)

Postpartum Mental Health is a Men’s Issue

Whether you are a dad trying to support a partner or you think you may be experiencing a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder, we are glad you are here. We want you to know that you are not alone and that by getting the right kind of support, you will get better.

One in ten dads gets postpartum depression, and up to 18% develop a clinically significant anxiety disorder such as generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder at some point during the pregnancy or the first year postpartum.

As part of our commitment to a whole-family, father-inclusive approach to perinatal mental health, Postpartum Support International is proud to sponsor the annual International Fathers’ Mental Health Day in order to raise awareness and decrease stigma that these dads often face. You can get more information about IFMHD on our Twitter feed as well as our Facebook page.

Call or Text our HelpLine

1-800-944-4773 (4PPD) – English and Spanish

When you call the HelpLine you will be asked to leave a confidential message, and a trained and caring volunteer will listen and return your call or text during business hours. They will listen, answer questions, offer encouragement, and connect you with local resources as needed.

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Dad Support Group

Our online groups are here to help you connect with other dads who have newborns up to toddlers. Our groups allow you to talk and listen to other dads as they process their experiences. Whether you are going through stress, feeling overwhelmed as you adjust to parenting, or trying to figure out how best to support your partner, our groups are here for you.You will learn about helpful tools/resources and realize you are not alone. We do not allow group observation by students or professionals. Thank you for your cooperation and understanding.

Times Vary.

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Chat with a Fatherhood Expert

Join our monthly Just for Dads Chat. On the first Mondays of every month PSI hosts a free call-in forum for dads facilitated by a perinatal mood disorders expert and PSI Board Member Dr. Daniel Singley. Call for information, support, and connection with other dads. There is no need to pre-register or give your name.

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Connect with our Specialized Coordinators for Dads.

Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders are not only experienced by moms, and PSI’s Specialized Coordinators for Dads provides understanding and support for fathers who are struggling. (not for clinical consultation)

Connect with a Dads Specialized Coordinator


Connect with a Local PSI Volunteer near you.

We have more than 400 Local Volunteers who provide support, information, encouragement, and connection with local providers and support groups.

United States/Canada International

Closed Facebook Group for Dads

PSI has a closed Facebook Group for dads, where members can get a lot of great support and information from other dads: https://www.

Additional Resources for Dads
  • International Father’s Mental Health Day
  • Tips about how dads can take care of themselves and their partners
  • Video testimonials from dads who have experienced postpartum anxiety and depression
  • Read David Levine’s blog post about how he beat postpartum depression
  • The Postpartum Dads website was created by PSI Dad’s Coordinator David Klinker as a forum to help dads and families by providing firsthand information and guidance.
  • The Postpartum Husband book by Karen Kleiman
  • Boot Camp for New Dads is a unique father-to-father, community-based workshop that inspires and equips men of different economic levels, ages and cultures to become confidently engaged with their infants, support their mates and personally navigate their transformation into dads.
  • The Good Men Project is a blog and Facebook page addressing subjects related to dating, marriage, and fatherhood.
  • Center for Men’s Excellence: video info for new dads.

Fathers Respond to Perinatal and Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders Video

When we filmed our new DVD, Healthy Mom, Happy Family, we had the opportunity to speak with the dads and we made a video where they shared their experiences. We hope their stories can support you and give you hope through this difficult time. Download the Order Form and send to [email protected] if you’d like to purchase the Father’s Respond video.

Wade Bowen “Turn on the Lights”

Country Music Artist Wade Bowen wrote “Turn on the Lights” after going through PPD with his wife Shelby. The Bowen family turned this into a benefit for Postpartum Support International, creating a CD with help from many families and PSI Volunteers. Wade has done so much to help PSI — what a talented and generous man. He helps us help families every day.

  • Visit
  • Read the Wade Bowen Interview
  • Download the CD Order Form

Mental Health and the New Father

Becoming a parent is a huge milestone for anyone, but when a new baby joins the family, it’s common for support systems to prioritize the mother and child. Even many health professionals educate moms on what to expect during the transition to motherhood, while the transition to fatherhood is primarily addressed in the context of supporting the mother and baby – if it is at all. 

Between the lack of education about the challenges of fatherhood and societal pressures of masculinity, dads don’t always pay attention to their mental health after bringing a child into the family. While they may notice changes in their mood and behavior, they might not recognize them as symptoms of a mental health condition. Many don’t even know that men can experience pre- and postpartum depression and anxiety – around one in 10 fathers experience Paternal Postpartum Depression (PPPD) and up to 16% deal with an anxiety disorder during the weeks before and after birth. [1] 


  • Approximately 75 million men in the United Sates are fathers - that's about 60% of all men over age 15. [2]

  • There are around 2 million single fathers in the U.S. - about 40% are divorced, 38% never married, 15% separated, and 6% widowed. [3]

  • The average age at which men become fathers has increased over time - from 27.4 years old in 1972, to 30.9 years old in 2015. [4]


Drastic Life Changes

Often the feelings of love and joy that a new baby brings are mixed with feelings of frustration and regret over losing your old life. There’s an adjustment period for everyone when a new member joins the family. Overnight, you become much less in control of how you spend your time than you were before. This lifestyle change can be especially jarring if you’re a first-time parent. Most fathers find their expectations of parenthood to be very different than reality. 

Talk to other dads or new parents – they are likely navigating similar changes and stresses. If you don’t personally know any other new fathers or fathers of young children:

  • Search for support groups. There may be local groups that meet in person, or you can look online. Facebook is a good place to start.
  • Introduce yourself to other dads. Try striking up a conversation while picking your child up from daycare or at child-centered community events. If your child’s mother has mommy friends, see if she can introduce you to their partners. 

Guilt About Bonding

Bonding with a newborn is often more difficult for fathers than mothers, especially if the mother carried the child – men miss out on a lot of direct connection with the baby during pregnancy and soon after birth, from carrying and birthing the baby to breastfeeding. It’s also uncommon for men to take significant time off work after the birth of their child. Paid paternity leave is not standard for most companies, and while 90% of new fathers take some time off, 70% take ten days or less5, which is fewer than the weeks of maternity leave a woman typically takes. If you are having a hard time feeling close to your baby and feelings of guilt arise, it may be tempting to withdraw even further. Try not to be too hard on yourself if you don’t feel a quick connection with your baby. While men generally spend more time with their young children now than in past generations, it’s entirely normal for it to take weeks or months to develop an intimate emotional bond with your baby.  

Mothers have a head start when bonding with a baby, but there are plenty of ways to grow a strong father-child connection. 

  • Skin-to-skin contact is important for babies and a great way to initiate a bond – let the baby snuggle against your bare chest and feel your heartbeat. 
  • If you spoke to the baby in the womb, they will likely already recognize your voice; continuing to talk to them (or read, or sing) helps that bond grow. 
  • Make alone time for you and the baby (it will give your partner a break, too!) – be in charge of bath time, take over some of the feeds if mom isn’t exclusively breastfeeding, or wear the baby in a carrier while doing light tasks around the house.  

Relationship Changes

There are non-stop household chores and baby duties to take care of with a new baby and sleep deprivation on top of everything else. You’re probably bickering more than before, and what used to be couple time is now family time. You and your partner likely both feel like you’re doing your best to take care of the many things that need to get done. Still, sometimes it can feel like your partner isn’t doing enough, which can quickly lead to resentment – especially when you aren’t getting the quality time that relationships need. 

Make an effort to talk with your partner about things other than the baby and parenthood, even if it’s just a few minutes each day. It doesn’t have to be a whole date night (but if you have a sitter, go for it!) – you can chat while pushing the baby around the block in the stroller or spend a few minutes before you go to bed each night catching up. Planning regular “meetings” to bring up household- and baby-related issues can help you and your partner keep parent-talk to a minimum during your quality time.

Loneliness and Isolation

Many parents struggle with feeling isolated in the chaos of bringing a newborn home – your life becomes consumed with caring for the baby. You may feel disconnected from your friends, your partner, and even yourself. Few people talk about the transition from a father’s point of view, but your feelings about new parenthood are valid too. 

Remember that while your primary identity may be ‘Dad’ right now, you were you first, and it’s important not to lose that. Take time for yourself to do things you enjoy and connect with others who make you feel understood. This may mean finding a babysitter for a few hours or taking turns watching the baby so you and your partner can each get some “me time.” It can be hard to prioritize yourself when there is a seemingly never-ending list of things to be done but taking care of yourself means you can give your child an even better version of you. 

Protector and Provider Expectations

Fathers often face significant stress related to their work and income when a new child joins the family. There can be a lot of pressure for fathers to be the protector, provider, and disciplinarian of the family, both from external parties and yourself. Because the child’s mother has gone through the physically demanding part of bringing a child into the world, fathers often feel increased pressure to compensate in some way once the baby arrives. Children are expensive – your spending likely increased significantly when the baby arrived and it’s easy to feel like you’re drowning in payments, especially if money was already tight. Remember that these days, the burden of financially providing for a family no longer needs to fall entirely on you – the lines between your duties and your partner’s duties are less rigid than they used to be. 

Take time regularly to reflect on your priorities – let the little things go and give yourself credit for the successes you have had as a new parent. Things can easily spiral out of control when you don’t have systems in place, and while it can be hard to get yourself to slow down, putting in some extra time and effort now will likely save you time down the road – work out a realistic budget to see where you can shift money to account for new expenses, reexamine your savings priorities, and have regular check-ins with your partner and anyone else in your financial support system.  

Parenting Anxiety

Nearly all parents deal with the fear that they will mess up – you’re likely to experience doubts and feelings of inadequacy at some point during your fatherhood journey. No one can be entirely prepared for parenthood before it happens to them.

When feelings of doubt set in, it can be hard to gather the mental energy to be the type of father you want to be. Feeling more informed and confident about what to expect can go a long way – familiarize yourself with basic developmental milestones and be as engaged with the baby as possible. Successful parenting is less about being prepared for every problem and more about adapting and recovering from challenges. Accept that things won’t always go as planned and that you can’t fix everything. Focus on stress management – move your body, make sure to eat enough, and remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can. 

Taking Care of Yourself

Life transitions are really difficult for our brains to process and feeling overwhelmed with all the change you’re experiencing in early fatherhood is completely normal, and you should not be ashamed. Check out Kevin Seldon’s podcast, Dad I’d Like To Friend, for relatable and honest content on parenthood. 

However, if these feelings have you feeling unable to function, it might be time to seek professional mental health help. Take an online screen at to determine if you’re dealing with symptoms of a mental health condition – you can show your results to a doctor to begin the conversation.


1. National Institute for Children’s Health Quality. (2021). Promoting fathers’ mental health during children’s early childhood.  

2. Monte, L.M. & Knop, B. (2019). Men’s fertility and fatherhood: Current population reports. United States Census Bureau. 

3. United States Census Bureau. (2021, October 8). Fathers in the United States. https://www. 

4. Khandwala, Y.S., Zhang, C.A., Lu, Y., & Eisenberg, M.L. (2017). The age of fathers in the USA is rising: an analysis of 168,867,480 births from 1972 to 2015. Human Reproduction, 32(10), 2110-2116. DOI: 10.1093/humrep/dex267

5. Grose, J. (2020, February 19). Why dads don’t take parental leave. The New York Times.

Advice for young fathers - Center "MOST"

Young fathers are very proud of their new, interesting and responsible role, because not only the wife, but also the baby needs their care, attention and support.

1. Initiative - encouraged
Try to participate as much as possible in the child's life. Look after him. Tell yourself: “I can handle this” - and you will really be able to calm the baby, put him to bed, bathe, feed and change clothes. It is always possible to say: “I don’t know how” or “I can’t do it,” but excuse me, but when else will you learn, if not now?

2. Show your feelings more often
Nothing is more important to a child than love. However, the very word "love" means little to him. Repeating “Daddy loves you” endlessly is absolutely pointless. Children don't understand this. But what is better than any words is kisses, hugs and caresses. Many fathers are embarrassed to openly show tenderness to their children. Get over it and you will never, ever regret it.

3. Experience comes with time
No woman is born a mother. She acquires all the skills of communication with children during the appearance of children in the family. Simply, unlike you, she has no choice - and she studies, studies, studies ... Therefore, go ahead! Ignorance is easily eliminated with the help of relevant literature or the advice of more experienced elders.

4. Do not try to replace your mother
You have your own approach to raising children. Don't copy mom. Develop your plan of communication with the child. These can be those areas of life in which you are better versed, for example, games, power loads, competitions, sports, humor, etc.

5. Treat your children the way you would like your parents to treat you
Old truth. Don't make the mistakes your parents made. Analyze the approach to raising your father. If everything suits you, feel free to take an example. If you remember any errors, it's time to correct them.

6. Take children's views as adults
Strive to organize family councils and open discussions. Ask your child for their opinion more often. So you bring up in him your own point of view and the ability to express it. It is also helpful in building self-confidence.

7. Do not blackmail the child
Do not tell the child: “Eat porridge, otherwise I won’t buy you a toy” At the same time, you give the child the opportunity, firstly, not to eat porridge, and secondly, next time he can do not eat porridge at all, until you promise him a toy. Don't fall into your own trap.

8. Learn to say “No”
Sometimes a firm “No” said at the right time is more important than a thousand persuasions and arguments. The child must see authority in you and obey. Of course, you should not scream, use profanity or assume threatening poses. It is always better to justify your decision after refusing.

9. Remember that you are not “perfect”
Being an authoritative father does not at all mean maintaining the image of an unattainable ideal elevated above the ordinary. Stay a part of life, do not turn your image into an unattainable deity. Admit your shortcomings, don't deny your own mistakes, don't be afraid to apologize to your child.

10. Cultivate family loyalty
Family values ​​and traditions should be instilled from childhood. And it is entirely within your power. You can lead by example. But remember, children are unlikely to be deceived if they feel false - your opinion will always be questioned.

12. Violence is not a method
Beating a child is immoral. If you cannot explain to children in an accessible way that it is impossible to perform this or that act, then you, first of all, should look for the reason in yourself. After all, with the disobedience of subordinates in the service, it would never occur to you to raise a hand against them. Causing physical harm to a creature that is unable to answer you is a deliberate failure of a man as a father.

13. Trust your intuition
Everything that seems wrong to you should not be done. Because the famous 6th feeling is inherent not only to women. In matters of paternity, there is one wonderful method: see if you can tell your own parents about it. Will they approve? Will you feel embarrassed about this? If not, feel free to take action.

14. Enjoy the moment
Before you know it, your children will grow up and become independent. So try to make full use of the allotted time for spending with children. Go to parks, ride rides, do crafts and homework together, and so on.

Love your wife and your children, think, fantasize, invent with your children, educate them so that they grow up happy, healthy, developed and highly moral.



Gorshkova A.N., specialist in work with youth how famous people raise their children. But not only famous people have children! Our new blogger, father and teacher Andrei Ilyukhin, shares his rules for raising a two-year-old son.

My son is now two. Even before his birth, I was very interested in finding books “for future fathers” or “for fatherhood” about how to prepare for raising a child, what to be prepared for, what fears and problems lie ahead. I went through a couple of publications that I found in the nearest bookstores, searched the Internet - but I didn’t come across anything useful. So, a couple of thin books and clippings from magazines. It became a little disappointing that there were a whole row of books for expectant mothers on the shelves, but empty for fathers. Two years later, I realized that this was no accident, because it is with mothers that children are almost 80–90% are related to the first years of life, as arranged by nature.

That is why I would like to highlight ten rules for a young father that I try to adhere to. I came to them in two years myself, working at a school, and after reading books for mothers and books on education.

I want to immediately warn you that this post is my personal idea of ​​raising a child. For some, this information will not be new, someone will completely disagree with me, but if there is something to add to this list, be sure to share the information (especially fathers, since the information is primarily sent to us). So:

1. Be mentally prepared for the children and challenges ahead. Unfortunately, the education system does not include training in parenthood, and everything comes with one's own experience and the advice of people around. Do not immediately give up on new ideas that you hear from fathers or loved ones, because you can always think about them, and then make a decision.

2. Start reading books for expectant mothers , they really have a lot of useful information. I confess that I have not fully read a single similar book that my wife read, but I have studied many questions "in terms of content" and individual topics.

3. Be ready to help your wife in any business during pregnancy , even if you think that it was “not your job”, and especially in the first months after the birth of a child. This will significantly relieve the wife and give her a break from the hard work of raising a child.

4. Relinquish "freedom" for the time being . Life and schedule are not completely, but will change. At least in the first two years for sure.

5. Pay attention to your child every day . It often seemed to me that my son did not react to me in any way, but over time I realized that this was not so. The more attention you pay to a child, the more he will get used to you, the faster he will begin to recognize and accept you, smile at you.

6. Enlist the help of grandparents, to spend time with your wife. This is good for both parties and will give them some time to take a break from the baby and enjoy each other's company.

7. Every day talk to your child about any topic , teach words, show new objects, tell something. Start looking for distinctive positive traits and abilities for something as early as possible, try to develop them. Whether it's playing with a ball or hanging on a horizontal bar - everyone will see something special in their child, that's 100%!

8. Help your child recognize who the father is. My son started doing this only at the age of one and a half: he realized that I exist, that you can play with me. At one point, when you leave for work, the child will say "bye" or cry because you are leaving. It was at that moment that I experienced an incredible feeling of happiness. Raising a child requires great patience, which must be constantly developed and strengthened. Your positive labors will always bear fruit.

9. Try to study the behavior of other children. I was lucky, I work at a school, almost every day I analyze the behavior of children and their parents, project it on myself and my child, draw conclusions. In addition to schools, this can be done at playgrounds and other places where children and their parents gather. The child is a 100% copy of the parents. It is necessary to remember this in any incomprehensible situations.

10. Try to turn negative situations into positive ones. If a child starts crying or hysteria, you should not immediately fall into anger, scold him and yell at him, first try to find out what happened, and then do something. A look from the other side and position will never be superfluous.

Of course, I didn’t mention something and forgot, somewhere it might seem too banal, since this is a very large, deep and popular topic, but today for me these are one of the most important points in raising my son.

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