MAFS' Martha and Michael just shared the thing no one says about new fathers.

Married At First Sight’s Michael Brunelli has opened up about the paternal postnatal anxiety he experienced after becoming a father in February 2023.

Joined by his fiancee Martha Kalifatidis on their paediatrician Dr. Golly’s podcast, Dr. Golly & The Experts, Michael shared that despite having always dealt with anxiety, it became increasingly worse after baby Lucius was born.

Watch: The facts on Postnatal Depression. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia, PANDA.

As the conversation continued, Michael said it was "an uncomfortable but eye-opening experience."

Dr. Golly, who has been a paediatrician for over a decade and is a father of three himself, asked Michael if he dealt with "irrational fears that something really unlikely could happen at any moment".

"100 per cent, yeah... but they're just normal to me," responded Michael.

As Michael went into further detail about his symptoms, Dr. Golly concluded that it’s highly likely he has paternal postnatal anxiety.

The diagnosis came as a shock to Michael, who, like most people, didn’t know men could suffer from the condition. 


However, despite Michael later coming to terms with the news, saying it was his “job as a dad” to look out for his son, Martha disagreed.

She said that Michael deserved to relax and take a break from time to time, and that he should “let someone else have some responsibility.”

After the podcast, Michael reflected on the conversation on his Instagram Stories.


"I didn't expect to dive so deeply into my mind when it comes to being a father," wrote the 32-year-old.

"The way I think, the worry, the stress, the anxiety and my internal dialogue is just something I've come to accept as normal.

"It's part of who I am, an overthinker... Dr. Golly felt it wasn't normal."

Michael was praised by Dr. Golly and listeners for being so honest about fatherhood and the struggles that come with it.

"I love how they were both willing to speak openly about such a personal topic. Good on them for shining light on such an important topic,” commented one person.

What is postnatal anxiety?

Postnatal anxiety isn’t exclusive to women, in fact, research shows it’s becoming increasingly common amongst men. 

Postnatal anxiety is anxiety that develops after the birth of a child and affects up to one in 10 new parents. Symptoms include agoraphobia, generalised anxiety, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and social phobia.

Postnatal anxiety is more likely to affect those who already suffer from an anxiety disorder.

Feature image: @mbrunelli

For help and support, contact PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia) on 1300 726 306.

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