When Your Baby’s Father Becomes Your Ex During Pregnancy

When Your Baby’s Father Becomes Your Ex During Pregnancy

pregnant couple having problems

Your life during pregnancy is already a little topsy-turvy. Your body is changing and you’re experiencing symptoms you’ve never had before, including unpleasant ones like morning sickness. Plus, you’re feeling stressed by all of the changes that go along with bringing a new baby into the world – but what if you have to deal with another major source of anxiety and uncertainty.  What happens if your baby’s father suddenly becomes your ex and it happens while you’re pregnant?


Breakups are hard but they’re particularly tough to deal with if you’re pregnant. With so many things to worry about already, a broken relationship might make you feel like you, too, are reaching your breaking point. Yet, if the break-up has been a long time coming, you might breathe a sigh of relief Still, if you lack a strong support system, a break-up can be one more thing to add to your list of worries. That’s why it’s important to surround yourself with family and friends. You’re probably feeling stressed from the break-up AND the pregnancy and could benefit from a sympathetic ear. That’s what friends and family are for.


If You Don’t Have a Support System


Not having a close circle of friends and family to turn to makes the situation more challenging. If you belong to a church or social group, there may be people there you can form a friendship with or who you can turn to for support. If not, look for parenting support groups in your area. You can also engage with other pregnant moms-to-be online via online forums and groups.


Even though your ex may have checked out emotionally, that doesn’t mean he’s off the hook in terms of supporting the child he and you created together. Be ready to file for child support. You’ll also need to think about how you’ll support your baby once he or she is born. If you have a job, look for child care options you can contact. If you don’t currently have a job, you may need to apply for government assistance temporarily. If money is an issue, is there a friend or family member you could live with temporarily? Write down all of your options.


You’re Not Alone


Remember, there are many single moms out there that manage to survive and flourish. It may take a bit of planning and soul searching to find the best way to support you and your baby financially. One option is to team up with other parents whom you can share responsibilities with, such as childcare, transportation etc. There’s strength in numbers!


Comfort yourself with the knowledge that the break-up might be for the better. If a man is unable to be there for you when you’re carrying his child, it’s unlikely he will make a good partner or father. Yes, pregnancy is more challenging when you don’t have the emotional support of the father who made it all happen, but you’re strong enough to get through the rough times and welcome your new child into the world as a solo parent.



American Pregnancy Association. “Doing It Alone”

Postpartum Depression In Men

It is erroneously believed that postpartum depression or PPD can only occur in new mothers. But, the truth is that it can also affect new dads, usually within the first year of having a baby [1]. Feeling depressed for a few days after your little bundle of joy comes into this world does not mean you love your baby any less. It often results from the additional responsibilities you face a parent.

What causes male postpartum depression?

Like PPD in women, it is almost impossible to pinpoint the exact factors responsible for postpartum depression in new fathers. Possible causes and risk factors include:

  • Having a partner suffering from PPD
  • Inability to bond with the baby or getting used to the idea of being a father
  • Sleep deprivation due to caring for the baby, especially if you have a colicky baby who tends to cry all the time [2]
  • Going through a difficult financial situation or having a stressful job
  • Becoming parent at a young age [3]
  • Having a stressful relationship with your partner or any other family member [2]
  • Researches show that women are not the only ones to experience lowering hormone levels after childbirth. The testosterone levels in the fathers go down as well while the estrogen and prolactin levels go up, leading to symptoms of depression [4]
  • History of a stressful event in the recent past
  • Unplanned pregnancy and baby

What are the symptoms of postpartum depression in men?

  • Feeling down all the time
  • Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Insomnia (inability to sleep) or hypersomnia (excessive sleepiness) [5]
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating on anything [6]
  • Changes in weight and appetite
  • Anger, irritability and frustration
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Physical symptoms like digestion problems and headache
  • Unexplained crying spells [4]
  • Inability to make any decision
  • Feeling of worthlessness
  • Feeling resentful towards the baby which also makes you feel guilty [4]
  • Thoughts of hurting yourself
  • Working constantly (to take the mind off of the depressive thoughts) [5]

Postpartum depression treatment in men

The psychotherapy procedures used for managing PPD in men are the same as those used for treating women. Talk to your mental health care provider to find out what treatment measure your respond best to [3]. Antidepressants may also be necessary for managing severe depressive symptoms in some rare cases [2]. The depression management measures used by women (e.g. getting lots of sleep and following a healthy diet) are recommended for men as well [6]. Talking to other dads about how to be a good parent to your child can help you to better deal with the situation [3]. Alternative therapies like exercise, yoga, massage therapy and acupuncture [7] can also prove helpful.

Does postpartum depression in the father affect the baby?

You may not know it yet, but you are as important for your baby as the mother. Dads affected by postpartum depression are less likely to spend time with the baby, play with them and read to them. This may have a negative impact on the character development of the baby as well as the father-child relationship [6]. According to researches, untreated PPD in fathers can be associated with poorer behavioral, emotional and social outcomes in kids, especially in boys, when they reach 3 years of age [8].

Long Term Prognosis for Postpartum Depression in Men

Proper support and therapy can cure the condition within a few months [9]. But, leaving the condition untreated can lead to permanent depression, resulting in long-term ill consequences on the whole family [6]

Postpartum Depression Incidence in Men

Studies show about 14% of new fathers in the United States to get PPD shortly (often within 6 weeks) after their babies are born. The statistics goes up to 25% within 3-6 months after birth [4].

  1. http://www.postpartumprogress.com/depression-in-men-a-dads-story-of-male-postpartum-depression
  2. http://www.drchristinahibbert.com/postpartum-depression-men-the-facts-on-paternal-postnatal-depression/
  3. http://www.nct.org.uk/parenting/postnatal-depression-dads
  4. http://blogs.menshealth.com/health-headlines/can-men-get-post-partum-depression/2011/03/27
  5. http://www.postpartummen.com/depression.htm
  6. http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/04/16/when-dad-has-postpartum-depression/
  7. http://www.drchristinahibbert.com/postpartum-depression-treatment/complimentary-and-alternative-modalities/
  8. http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/men_and_postnatal_depression.html#effects
  9. http://www.postpartummen.com/ [/ref]