Our full review
This book is true to its title. It is an exploration of postnatal depression (PND) and especially of PND in fathers. It identifies that this is very common but often manifests in different ways to PND in mothers. Fathers may engage in risky behaviour, start working more hours, develop addiction issues or become violent. Their mental ill-health is often missed as maternity services are focused on the mother, and fathers are almost never asked how they are.
Spencer takes a wider a look at this issue by interviewing those working directly with affected fathers. The book explores how straight men’s roles in fatherhood have changed over the decades: from breadwinner to birth-assistant and co-parent, expected to carry his half of the load around the house. While this is great progress, it can take a while for society and cultural norms to catch up. With paternity leave lasting a meagre 2 weeks and new fathers offered almost no support, it is not surprising that PND is as prevalent as it is. There are also interesting conclusions drawn from the correlation between men’s attendance at births and rates of PND.
Spencer concludes with a summary of what we can all do to better support new fathers.
This is not a self-help guide, and it is more theoretical than personal, but it is highly interesting and offers an insight into a topic often left unaddressed. We recommend this book if you would like to know more about how PND affects men, and their children, or you are supporting a new father with PND and would like to understand more about it.