Babies being born should be a time filled with excitement and joy. For dads during the pandemic, however, many found themselves unable to attend check ups, scans and even the birth.
The reality of lockdown pregnancies
An eye-opening survey by the Fatherhood Institute showed that 80% of dads missed out on scans, antenatal classes, appointments and the early part of labour. Mothers and babies were put at extra risk by restrictions believed 24% of the health professionals who responded. Shocking!
Nearly 50% of dads reported that they were excluded from postnatal wards. As a result of being shut out, 67% of dads said they felt unprepared due to the restrictions. Unsurprisingly, 84% of mums felt they received less support than they needed.
‘If leaving your partner before the birth is odd, leaving your newborn baby after a handful of minutes is even stranger’James Bloomfield
Dad James Bloomfield was one of the fathers who was shut out as a consequence of the pandemic. He had to miss all three antenatal scans and was only allowed in to the birth unit when the baby was on the way.
‘It’s a funny feeling leaving your partner just at the moment where you both feel you need each other most,’ he says. ‘When the baby arrived, we were given 15 minutes together before I was asked to leave and come back the next day first thing. If leaving your partner before the birth is odd, leaving your newborn baby after a handful of minutes is even stranger. It made a momentous moment in all of our lives much more surreal.’
After the Birth
After the birth James and his new family had more time to be together, as a lockdown was in place. ‘It was lovely being with my boy day in and day out – seeing all the tiny progressions and being able to creep downstairs and see him asleep or playing at any time I wanted,’ he says.
However, there was a flip side. ‘On the other hand, we lost out on months of family time with the people we loved being able to see him,’ says James. ‘I did feel quite alienated in fatherhood without anyone to talk to about my changing role or the stress of providing for my family. In many ways it was dreadfully lonely as well as exciting to have so much time with our boy.’
The stress of becoming a dad during the pandemic had a profound effect on James.
‘We were both suffering together, alone’James Bloomfield
James and his partner were isolated from her supportive family. He also struggled with supporting her through post natal depression. Eventually he spoke to his local mental health services.
‘Post natal depression meant that I shouldered more burden than I could cope with after nearly a year of isolation. We were both suffering together, alone. While our lives were tough, we were immensely grateful for our first baby after trying for more than a year to conceive. We are now nearly 5 months in to our second pregnancy. The joy brought into our lives by the little one has been immense.’
James’ struggle is shared by many other pandemic parents. 88% of mums and 79% of dads reported to the Fatherhood Institute survey that they were more stressed. In addition, 88% of mums and 77% of dads were more anxious, 86% of mums and 62% of dads felt more isolated, 57% of mums and 44% of dads felt more depressed as a result.
‘The labour was long but I was able to stay all the way through’Simon Hermitage
Dad Simon Hermitage reported that his experience was less difficult than some of those reported. ‘I was fortunate to be able to attend the majority of scans during the pregnancy,’ he said. ‘There was an occasion where my wife was concerned and I wasn’t allowed to attend. It was difficult as I wanted to be there to support her if anything was wrong. All in all I think the hospital did a good job of including the dads as much as possible.’
‘The labour was long but I was able to stay all the way through. The midwives allowed me to stay later than allowed as we didn’t give birth until 7:30 pm. I had to wear a mask most of the time but was a minor inconvenience when dealing with the whole event. Visiting was restricted but wasn’t the end of the world as it meant I could have a sleep and support my wife when I returned so she could sleep.’
If you are a Dad and are struggling help is available.
Talk to your midwife, health visitor or GP- they can support you to access NHS services
Come and talk in our forum, we have trained parent support volunteers ready to chat.
Use a service like Parents Online
Connect with Scott Mair on Insta, he has walked this walk.