While the mental health of fathers has been effected by the lack of care, the mental health and relationship quality for the couple is impacted as well. When one partner experiences depressive symptoms the other partner is more likely to experience depressive symptoms as well (Habib, 2012; Rosenthal et al., 2013). The reported incidence rates of paternal postpartum depression when their partner also has postpartum depression range from 25%-50%. This is scary as the lasting effects of depression occurring during pregnancy or postpartum are apparent. Nearly 60% of fathers who are diagnosed with postpartum depression within two months postpartum remained depressed at six months postpartum. This is unfortunate because parents who are both not mentally well are going to have more difficulty parenting.
The good news is that a healthy prenatal relationship can be protective against postpartum depression. Studies have found that a strong prenatal relationship is protective against postpartum depression. it makes sense to provide couples support early on in the pregnancy. This is especially important as most studies indicate couples reporting a decline in relationship quality over the first year postpartum. This deterioration of a couple’s relationship could be the powerful effect raising an infant has on physical, emotional, and social health.
The relationship may also be idealized earlier on, and as the relationship goes on a more realistic appraisal happens. Fathers report relationship dissatisfaction at twelve months postpartum despite their partners’ well-being returning to rebirth levels. This relationship dissatisfaction is predictive of the amount of individual stress a mother and father experiences. This is significant because despite marked improvements in wellness levels of a partner, there still exists a dissatisfaction in the relationship that needs to be dealt with.
This emphasizes that an earlier intervention must occur and includes supportive services not only for women and infants, but fathers. Most problems are derived from the smaller stresses during the pregnancy, the mixed and unrealistic expectations of couples paired, and the lack of the mother, father, and couple seeking help early on.