Throughout pregnancy and on into the postnatal period, much of the family focus is on mother and baby. And rightly so- being pregnant and giving birth is a huge experience for a woman to go through, and with the physical exertion of giving birth, not to mention the abundance of hormones, the early weeks and months with a new baby can be filed with an immense pressure for mums. But what about dad? Your partner is likely to have been there with you every step of the way, but too often his needs are not considered when a new baby comes along. With that in mind, we’ve put together a few tips to help support and guide new dads through this time. Please let us know in the comments if you have any more postnatal tips for dads.
Dads need nurturing too
After the mammoth event that is pregnancy and birth, everyone deserves a little TLC and dads are no different. Pregnancy can be strange for dads as they are not directly involved with the growing bump, plus the labour and birth process is very much woman centered too. So it’s normal for dads to feel a little like they need to do more in the early days. Again, this can be difficult if mum is breastfeeding. It’s also important to remember that while mum is recovering from it all, dad may need to do the same.
New research has found that 38% of dads are concerned about their own mental health, and there are calls now to increase support for new dads. It is normal to feel a little ‘let down’ after all the anticipation of pregnancy and birth. Sleep deprivation doesn’t help either. So how can we nurture dads a little more, and ensure that they are able to fully support mum and enjoy life with their newborn baby?
● Strive to find a new routine. This is something that dad can get stuck into once baby arrives, and it will help you both to feel a little more ‘on top’ of the chaos that a new baby brings. Sometimes it helps dads to feel a little more part of the proceedings if they are able to take on new roles within the family- maybe doing the grocery, preparing baby’s bath at the end of the day, or giving the occasional bottle? Find a new routine that allows dad to get hands on with baby so that he can begin the bonding process too.
● Prepare for the sleepless nights. Sleep deprivation really is hard, and it can play havoc with your emotions whether you’re chock full of postnatal hormones or not. And for dad, returning to work on very little sleep can be really hard. Especially when you are also striving to be there for mum and take on extra duties at home. So get prepared. Go to bed a little earlier, and clear the next few weekends so that you can have some quality time doing very little. Take it in turns to sleep in.
● Support your partner as much as you can. Remember that she has been through a lot, and having a new baby to care for too is going to take some getting used to. There are tasks that dad can take on such bathing, washing, shopping, taking care of the older kids etc. Doing this will help the household to run a lot more smoothly and will help mum to recover a lot more quickly too.
Open up to your partner
Lots of dads feel that they are not ‘supposed’ to talk about how they feel. This is normal. But relationships are two way streets, and it’s important to acknowledge dad’s s feelings too. Take the time to talk to each other about how you’re feeling, and the things you’d like help with. Find new ways to work together to be stronger and more united with baby. Your family is so different now, but that’s not to say you cannot enjoy the new challenges life is now bringing!
Be kind to each other
Take the time to regularly praise each other, and to appreciate what each of you brings to the family. Celebrate your achievements, no matter how small they may seem. And be kind to each other. Having a new baby is enormous, and not many of us come out the other side completely unscathed. But having a new baby is also one of the most amazing things you will do together, so cherish this time- and each other.