Coping with Postnatal Depression: Men and Non-Birthing Partners

Having a baby is not easy for either parent. Both parents (especially first-time parents) have their worlds completely turned upside down when they have a child. Even if you are not the birthing parent, your daily life and responsibilities will have dramatically changed, which can tremendously affect how you look at your life, family, aspirations, and even your feeling of purpose in the world.

When these changes lead to feelings of anxiety and depression so intense that they begin to interfere with your daily life, it is no longer simply “baby blues.” It is postnatal depression — which, contrary to popular belief, can affect men and non-birthing parents as well.

What Is Postnatal Depression?

Postnatal depression is a specific type of depression that many parents (both birthing and non-birthing) experience after having a baby. This form of depression is incredibly prevalent in mothers or birthing parents but is also very common in men or non-birthing parents as well. Unfortunately, since non-birthing parents are not screened for postnatal depression, and the existing screening processes are made for diagnosing a birthing parent, many may go without treatment or support.

It typically develops within one to three weeks after childbirth in women or birthing parents, though it can occur at any time within the first year of the baby’s life. In men or non-birthing parents, postnatal depression may develop more slowly and is most common when the baby is three to six months old.


Postnatal depression may look very different from person to person. However, there are a few signs or symptoms you can keep an eye out for that are common for this particular type of depression. Depression symptoms can be expressed in four categories, physical, emotional, behavioral, and cognitive. 

Here, we’ll explore a few of the most common symptoms in each of these categories. 


  • Lack of appetite
  • Exhaustion or fatigue
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Trouble sleeping


  • Guilt or shame
  • Anxiety
  • Irritation or anger
  • Isolation or disconnection from loved ones, including your partner
  • Sadness
  • Inability to enjoy hobbies or activities you used to love


  • Irritability or aggression in your relationships
  • Use of drugs or alcohol as a way of relaxing or coping with stress
  • Distancing from loved ones or desire to spend more time out of the house
  • Lack of interest in your partner or being physically intimate with your partner


  • Having trouble concentrating or remembering things
  • Experiencing overwhelming thoughts or feeling as if your thoughts are out of control
  • Having trouble making decisions or completing everyday tasks
  • Thinking about death or suicide

Why Non-Birthing Partners May Develop Postnatal Depression

As mentioned above, having a child completely alters both your and your partner’s lives. You both gain new responsibilities, and your daily routines will likely be completely different as well — especially when caring for a newborn. 

As a non-birthing parent, you want to support your child and your partner in any way possible, which can lead to having to cope with the following stressors, which can lead to developing postnatal depression.

  • The financial pressure of caring for a new baby
  • Relationship changes with your partner
  • Lack of sleep or rest
  • Additional responsibilities around the house 
  • Taking care of other children in addition to the new baby

You may also be more prone to experience postnatal depression if you

  • are struggling with other major life stressors — such as moving, losing a job, or mourning a loved one,
  • do not have good support networks in place,
  • have poor living conditions or financial struggles,
  • experienced neglect or abuse in your childhood.

How to Cope with Postnatal Depression

Parenting is full of highs and lows, and it is completely natural to feel overwhelmed or depressed. But, when this overwhelming depression becomes unbearable and never-ending, you may wonder what you can do to cope with it and heal so that you can be the best you can be for yourself, your partner, and your child.

The best way to cope with postnatal depression will depend on your individual needs and preferences, but here we will explore some of the most beneficial things you can do to cope healthily.

Make Time for Self-Care

Yes, you have a new baby to care for, a partner to support, and maybe a job to work or other responsibilities to handle. But this does not mean that you can push your own health to the sidelines. Realistically, if you are not taking care of yourself, you cannot effectively take care of anyone else. So make space to prioritize your health and happiness. Make time in your schedule to check in and ensure you are getting what you need.

If you don’t know where to begin or what you need to ensure proper self-care, ask yourself these questions. You can use this as a little check-in reflection if that helps you better understand where you need to make more space for your needs.

  1. Are you getting enough rest?
  2. Are you taking care of daily hygiene?
  3. Are you finding time to exercise?
  4. Are you eating nourishing foods and balanced meals?
  5. Are you being kind to yourself?

Ask for Help

You do not have to suffer your feelings of anxiety or depression alone. You can find incredible support around you in the form of loved ones who can watch your baby for a night while you catch up on sleep or assist with some much-needed household work or grocery runs. Or maybe for you, this support is dedicated support groups or communities for people going through the same things as you. 

The important thing is to know it is okay to seek support where you need it and it is okay to ask for help. No one is expecting you and your partner to do everything on your own — especially when one or both of you are struggling with postnatal depression. 

Get Professional Guidance

In many cases, postnatal depression is treated through a combination of therapy, medication, support from loved ones, support groups or communities, lifestyle changes, and good self-care. The best treatment plan for you will depend on your individual situation as well as your needs and preferences, and more often than not, you’ll have to try a few things before determining what works best for you.

This is where speaking with your doctor or a mental health professional like a therapist or counselor can be incredibly impactful. Not only can these health professionals help you determine the best next steps for you, but they can also help you ensure that you are doing what you need to heal from postnatal depression healthily.

So, if you are struggling with postnatal depression and are looking for external support and guidance to help you heal, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at Love Heal Grow today to get in touch with one of our therapists.

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