Matthew Morris

What if men had the training and wherewithal to support their wives through the challenges of mental health that pregnancy, birth and the post-partum period can bring on.

Matthew Morris, a former Marine Captain and our Lead Dad of the Week, wondered this when his wife Shannon, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, was pregnant with their first child. They were living in Europe seeking non-hospital settings to give birth and working to maintain their mental health.

“We didn’t find answers at the Veterans Administration, in traditional medicine or non-traditional medicine,” he said. “I read every pregnancy book there is. All of them focused on the medical side or the anatomical side which is important. But I couldn’t find anything through the Department of Defense, Department of Education or other places that talked to expecting dads in how to assist their wives in their mental health journey. It’s just not there What I found is that responsibility is often pushed away from the partner and onto individuals outside the household.”

He wanted to change that. They were both in their post-military lives but still used to the military way of often creating short manuals for just about everything.

“We have a manual on how to clean toilets as a Marine,” he said. “But we don’t have a manual for maternal mental health?”

So Matthew and Shannon wrote “Warfighting”, modeled on the MCDP 1 – the first book every Marine reads.

“Ours is 100 pages, big pictures, designed for any Marine to read,” he said. “The Partners Purpose During Pregnancy” is volume one of a three-volume set that will encompass the pre- and post-birth lives of parents.

He wrote it; she edited and illustrated it. The idea is to keep men engaged, but also helpful if the mothers of their children have mental health issues around childbirth.

“It’s my responsibility to build the relationships with the birth team so I know what to do,” said Matthew. “It could be a traditional doctor, a doula or a witch doctor who does shakey shakey over the birth. You still need to be there for your wife.”

And he has been for her and their daughter Mavin. Welcome, Matthew, to The Company of Dads.