Recent studies show that 1 in 10 dads suffer Post Natal Depression (NCT), and dads, like mums are affected by the trauma of the NICU.
We recognise that fact, and we acknowledge it. Which is why we’re striving to create a difference for dads too.
Giving them more support and listening to what they need is something we are incredibly passionate about.
We all know how terrifying it can be to have your baby on the neonatal unit, but often, the focus is on the mum and how she is coping, and for dads, the assumption is that he’s ok. But, he’s not.
It’s not uncommon for dads to take the weight of general day-to-day running of the house, his job, the rest of the family, while mum spends her time on the neonatal unit. We know that dads have anxiety too and they worry too.
Lack of understanding for employers around paternity leave and the NICU, and employers understanding just how serious having a sick baby can be, when they’re on the NICU, is something we’re passionate about changing. We want to work with employers to better support them, and in turn, support their employees who are facing this.
We are working with dads who have been on neonatal units, dads who have been affected by preterm or traumatic births, dads whose children have long term issues because of being born too sick or too early, and those with a dedicated interest in dads’ mental health, to make sure that we make positive changes better support dads.
Adam Marsden, father of premature twins Josh and Darcy, who spent 5 months in hospital and endured seven surgeries before being allowed home, is Leo’s Dad Representative.
“Dads, they come in all shapes and sizes, and with varying degrees of success. Half of the best parents I have met have been dads. They walk among us, and they are very real. And here at Leo’s, we feel they are woefully under-represented.
“I’m here to help give dads a voice. To listen to dads’ concerns and to help Leo’s to turn those concerns into actionable feedback for NICUs.
“As a father to an unwell child, you are a vital part of the journey. Every father’s role is different, because every father is different. I found mine quite by accident.
“Powerlessness can be quite empowering. It sounds oxymoronic to say that, but it’s true. When your children are locked in incubators, dependent upon ventilators to breathe, and they are heading into a surgery you are told they may not come back from, it’s terrifying. But you feel a protective instinct kick in and want to shield your new family from the fear and pain you’re all feeling.
“What I’m saying to dads is, it doesn’t matter what your way of coping is. You may prefer silent introspection. You may cry. You may joke. There’s no guide for how to cope with the situation. But Leo’s is here as a resource for dads to reach out and speak to someone who knows what it’s like in that situation.
“I’ve heard dads say they don’t often feel they have a voice – much of what is discussed between parents and doctors and consultants and nurses is aimed primarily at the mother.
“But dads do have a voice. And we at Leo’s are making sure that voice is heard.”