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What No One Tells a Man Before Becoming a New Dad: A St. Louis Mental Health Therapist's Perspective

Updated: Sep 7

A man touches the belly of his pregnant female partner. Dads can find mental health support through therapy at Marble Wellness in Ballwin, MO 63011, which specializes in men's mental health and offers therapy for men.

Congratulations, soon-to-be dads! The journey to fatherhood is an exhilarating one, filled with love, laughter, and life-changing moments. While you may have received some advice and well-wishes, there are aspects of fatherhood that often remain unspoken.

As a male mental health therapist, I'm here to share the untold truths and offer guidance to help you navigate this transformative transition. The hope in doing so is that it better prepares you, and can also cushion any negative blow by NOT being completely shocked about some of these changes.

To shine a light on topics often left undiscussed, we've recently shared information on building stronger father-child bonds; paternal postpartum depression; and coping with parental stress.Today, let's dive into what no one tells a man before becoming a father. This information can help you maintain your own mental health, contribute to the health of your relationship, and also help protect and boost the mental health of your partner.

Without further ado, 10 Things No One Tells A Man Before Becoming a New Dad from a St. Louis Therapist’s Perspective

1. The Rollercoaster of Emotions

Prepare for a whirlwind of emotions when you become a dad.

From the moment you hold your newborn in your arms, you'll experience overwhelming joy and pride like never before. It’s quite a rush!

However, it's essential to acknowledge that it's normal to have moments of self-doubt and anxiety. Parenthood is a journey of highs and lows, and it's okay to feel a wide range of emotions.

Embrace your feelings, talk openly with your partner or a supportive friend, and consider seeking guidance from a mental health professional if you need additional support. If those feelings of self-doubt or anxiety, or other emotions like depression; overwhelm; a sense of isolation (it happens!)....if those start to linger, or intensity, or they are interfering with your day-to-day functioning, that could be a sign to reach out.

Did you know dads can experience postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety, too? It’s true! In fact, it is reported that 1 in 10 dads experience a postpartum mood disorder. And since that’s from self-report, the number is actually probably higher. SO, if that happens to you, know that it’s actually common and the therapists at Marble Wellness (and other therapists) get it! And are here to help.

Remember, experiencing emotions doesn't diminish your strength as a father; rather, it shows your dedication to being emotionally present for your child.

2. The Impact on Your Relationship

Becoming parents will undoubtedly bring changes to your relationship with your partner.

This is usually the biggest change we discuss in our therapy office, or actually: even in our personal lives!!

The appearance of a new baby changes everything about your relationship with your partner, especially in those initial weeks and months.

And while that’s okay in so many ways, and utterly common, there are ways you can “brace for impact” and prepare to overcome the negative elements of the impact. (Remember: “different” isn’t always “worse.”

The best recommendation we can give you is: communicate; communicate; communicate.

It's crucial to communicate openly and honestly about your feelings, fears, and aspirations. Parenthood requires teamwork, and effective communication is key.

Embrace the fact that you and your partner might have different parenting styles and opinions, and that's okay. Instead of seeing these differences as obstacles, view them as opportunities to grow and learn from each other.

Consider attending parenting classes or counseling sessions together to strengthen your bond and develop a shared understanding of parenting.

Additionally, make an effort to prioritize time alone as a couple, even amid the busyness of parenthood. This will feel nearly impossible sometimes, but it is the single best behavior to implement with the change in family structure (from just spouses to spouses plus kids). Nurture your relationship and remember that a strong partnership provides a stable foundation for your child's upbringing.

3. Sleep Deprivation

Prepare yourself for sleepless nights!

Your baby's sleep patterns can be erratic, and it might take time for them to establish a consistent routine. Sleep deprivation can impact your mood, cognitive function, and overall well-being. It's vital to have open communication with your partner about sharing nighttime responsibilities. Take turns getting up with the baby, so both of you can get some rest.

For some couples, it can be tempting to have the non-working parent be the one who always gets up in the middle of the night. But two tired parents is better than one utterly exhausted parent so please work with your partner to establish how to split nighttime feedings/wakings/etc. The health of your relationship will benefit so much from this!

Also: embrace naps when possible, and remember that this phase won't last forever.

Be patient with yourself and your baby, and know that it's normal to feel tired and overwhelmed during this time. Seek support from family and friends if you need a break, and don't hesitate to ask for help if you find yourself struggling to cope with sleep deprivation.

4. Balancing Work and Fatherhood

Finding a work-life balance as a new dad can be challenging. Your career responsibilities might collide with the demands of fatherhood, making it necessary to develop a plan that works for both you and your employer. And your partner.

Communicate openly with your employer about the challenges and joys of becoming a father, and discuss any available flexible work options. Prioritize your child's important milestones and events, and make an effort to be present for them whenever possible.

Remember that it's essential to invest time in building a strong bond with your child during their early years, as these formative moments shape the foundation of your relationship with them. Create a schedule that allows you to allocate time for both work and family, and stay flexible when unexpected parenting duties arise.

5. Learning on the Job

No one is born knowing how to be a perfect dad, and that's perfectly okay.

Embrace the learning curve that comes with fatherhood. Every day presents an opportunity to grow alongside your child. Be patient with yourself as you navigate the challenges and joys of parenting. Emphasize the value of bonding with your baby through play, reading, and cuddling. Engaging in these activities not only nurtures your child's development but also deepens the connection between you both.

A dad holds his newborn baby while sitting on a bed. Therapy for men can help with the transition into parenthood. Marble Wellness in St. Louis, MO offers in-person therapy for men, online therapy in Missouri and Illinois, and park therapy.

If you ever feel uncertain or overwhelmed, don't hesitate to reach out for guidance from experienced parents, parenting classes, or mental health professionals specializing in fatherhood support (like us!). Remember, your effort and dedication in learning on the job are what matter most to your child.

6. Unexpected Challenges

Becoming a dad comes with its share of unexpected challenges. Read that again. Especially the “unexpected challenges” part. And then let it sit for a moment.

From dealing with diaper blowouts to soothing a fussy baby, these little surprises are all part of the journey. Embrace each challenge as an opportunity to bond with your child and grow as a parent. Maintain your composure and respond with patience and love. Don't be too hard on yourself if you encounter difficulties along the way; parenting is a continuous learning process.

Instead, focus on being present for your child, understanding their cues, and supporting them through every milestone. As you face unexpected challenges, remember that your child is also learning and growing alongside you, and your guidance and support play a significant role in their development.

7. The Importance of Self-Care

Amidst the demands of fatherhood, it's essential to prioritize self-care.

Taking care of yourself allows you to be the best dad you can be for your child and partner. Make time for activities that bring you joy and relaxation, whether it's pursuing a hobby, engaging in physical exercise, or simply enjoying some quiet time to recharge.

Seek support from your partner, family, or friends when you need a break, and don't hesitate to ask for help when necessary. Your mental and emotional well-being directly impacts your ability to support and care for your child, which also impacts your relationship with your partner and your partner’s mental and physical health. So, remember, being a happy and healthy dad is a gift to your family and yourself.

A note of caution: how and when you engage in these hobbies should absolutely be a conversation with your partner. If your hobbies continuously take you out of the house for long periods of time, that may create issues in your relationship. It is imperative to strike a balance between being a healthy dad but being present in the household. This balance can be delicate depending on many factors: what your job looks like; the demands on your partner; any special needs of your child; the temperament of your child; additional support systems. While we absolutely support and encourage you to engage in hobbies, there may be some tweaking or substituting of those hobbies to do during the years that your child is very young.

8. The Power of Paternal Bonding

Father-child bonding is an essential aspect of parenting that may sometimes go unnoticed. Engage in activities that strengthen your bond with your child, such as cuddling, playing, or even just spending quality time together.

Taking an active role in your child's daily life fosters a deep sense of security and love. Be present for important moments, such as feeding, diaper changes, and bedtime routines. These seemingly ordinary tasks build lasting connections and create cherished memories for both you and your child.

Remember, the power of paternal bonding extends far beyond infancy and plays a crucial role in shaping your child's emotional and social development as they grow.

9. The Joy of Celebrating Milestones

As a new dad, you'll witness an array of incredible milestones in your child's life. From their first smile and giggle to their first word and step, each achievement fills your heart with pride and joy.

Embrace these magical moments, for they pass swiftly, leaving behind cherished memories.

Celebrate each milestone, no matter how small, as they represent significant steps in your child's growth and development. Capture these precious memories with photographs and videos to create a lasting record of your child's journey.

A dad holds his baby at a pumpkin patch. Marble Wellness has a male therapist in St. Louis, MO who specializes in counseling for men, teen therapy, family therapy, and couples counseling.

Being present in these moments is also a significant boost to your mental health and is a direct counterbalance to the overwhelm that can come with being a new father. Those sleepless nights; those chaotic diaper changes in the middle of the least expected place for a diaper change; those moments you feel like you can’t do this……all of that shifts in an instant when you are present with your baby for the milestones.

Most importantly, remember that you play an instrumental role in nurturing your child's milestones, supporting them every step of the way.

10. The Art of Letting Go

As your child grows and becomes more independent, you'll face the challenge of letting go.

Encourage their curiosity and exploration, even if it means allowing them to make mistakes. Support their burgeoning independence and offer a safe space for them to learn and grow. It's natural to feel a mix of pride and worry as you watch your child venture into the world.

However, as they spread their wings, take comfort in knowing that your love and guidance will remain an unwavering presence in their lives.


Becoming a father is a profound journey that brings forth immense joy, challenges, and growth. As a male mental health therapist, I hope this blog has shed light on the lesser-known aspects of fatherhood, helping you prepare for this life-changing transition. Embrace the emotional rollercoaster, communicate with your partner, and prioritize self-care. Know that learning on the job is part of the process, and it's okay to seek support along the way. The joys of celebrating milestones and forging a strong bond with your child will make every challenge worth it. Embrace this extraordinary adventure with an open heart, and remember that you have the strength and resilience to be the best dad you can be. Welcome to the wonderful world of fatherhood!

About the Author

Meet Skyler Martin, LMSW, a seasoned therapist with a passion for guiding individuals and couples towards healthier, happier lives. Skyler is a member of the team of therapists at Marble Wellness in St. Louis. With extensive experience working with teens, adults, and couples, Skyler's expertise lies in helping adult men navigate the intricacies of their mental well-being. As a firm believer in the importance of mental health for all, Skyler is particularly attuned to the unique challenges faced by men, especially in the realm of fatherhood. Through his compassionate approach, Skyler aims to empower fathers to prioritize their mental health and create lasting, positive change for themselves and their families.

Logo for Marble Wellness, which offers therapy near me in St. Louis, MO 63011. Therapy for dads, therapy for moms, child therapy, counseling for teenagers, couples counseling, family counseling, and grief counseling are specialties of Marble Wellness.

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Our St. Louis team of therapists have a variety of training backgrounds and areas of expertise. We specialize in anxiety, depression, grief, chronic illness, therapy for men, couples, and maternal overwhelm. We can also help new moms with various postpartum concerns, moms in the thick of parenting, and moms with teens. We can also chat from wherever you are in the state with online therapy in Missouri and online therapy in Illinois. No matter where you are in your journey, we would love to support you.


Our Chicago team of therapists offer a wide range of mental health services to help our clients through the different challenges and hurdles in their life. In addition to anxiety, depression, grief, therapy for men, and maternal overwhelm, we are specialized in professional burnout, therapy for breakups, and love partnering with working moms.

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