Becoming a New Dad: The Early Days
In the early days, dads can sometimes feel like the secondary parent. Perhaps taking a back seat and assuming that their partner has everything sussed when it comes to feeding, soothing and caring. In reality, while mums might have a head start with becoming a parent through pregnancy and giving birth, dads can – and do – play an important role.
You will not hurt them
At this age, when their little heads are all over the place, babies look so weak. You wouldn't be the first dad to worry that you might hurt them or feel uncomfortable holding them. But holding them and caring for them is part of the process of getting close to them. And as you do it more, it will get easier. Really!
Finding out how your baby likes to be held and comforted will also help you feel closer to them. Talk to your partner about what each of you needs to do to care for the baby. We have a lot of ideas and activities which can help you to get closer to your baby.
Friends and family
In the first week, family and friends may be constantly asking to meet your new baby. Even though all the attention is nice, it can be hard to handle. Even more so when both you and your partner are likely to be tired. If so, try to keep visits to a minimum and enjoy this special time with your new family.
You can always spread out visits over a few weeks. Most people will understand that this is a time of adjusting as you learn how to take care of your baby. Spending time together with your new family can also be fun! Your partner might find it more helpful to have visitors after you go back to work when she will be on her own.
Take any offer
This is the right time to ask for or accept help. Take someone up on their offer to do your laundry or cook for you.
Don't think that the usual rules of hospitality apply when people come to visit. If they offer to bring you a meal, say yes. When you're tired and hungry, being able to just heat food that someone else made is a lifesaver!
No one will expect the house to be spotless, and guests will be able to find the kettle and make their tea without any trouble. They can even make you both one.
Aiding your partner in getting better after giving birth
Giving birth is hard on your body and your emotions. No matter how your partner gave birth, there are many ways you can help them get better.
Tell her to take breaks when she can and not do too much. For some women, the best way to do this might be to stay in bed. If so, your partner will appreciate it if you bring her snacks and drinks, and make sure she has what she needs in general.
If your partner had a C-section or any other major medical procedure, she will need more time to heal. Think about what you can do to help, like do the shopping, help her get around, or drive her when she needs it.
Support on an emotional level is just as important as support in other ways. Tell her that you like what she's doing. She's probably at her weakest right now, so she needs to know that you're always there for her.
Even if she gets angry or sad sometimes, try not to let this get to you. Think about your emotional needs as well, and if you need more help, ask for it. Talking to someone about how you feel can help.
Also, if your partner's feelings or actions don't seem right to you, it could be a sign of postpartum depression. Find out more about this in our article about traumatic birth and postnatal depression.
Dad holding baby feet
How to deal with lack of sleep
Everyone will have told you that the first few days and weeks of your new journey into parenthood can be very tiring. Still, nothing can prepare you for how little sleep you'll get after having a baby. Even if it doesn't help much to know that most new parents don't get enough sleep, at least you know you're not alone.
After having a baby, sleep can be one of the most difficult things because it can feel like neither you nor your partner is getting enough. Most likely, neither of you are
Talk about sleep and where you will sleep honestly. If your partner gets up to take care of the baby, you might want to let her sleep during the day. Or, do your part on the weekend and be the one to answer your little one’s call at 5 a.m.
"Sleep when the baby sleeps" is probably another piece of advice you've heard. Even though it's a bit of a cliché, it does work, and not just for mums. It's good advice for dads, too, especially if they've been up all night taking care of their baby or are just tired from the constant needs of a newborn.
Everything seems easier to handle when you're rested, so try to sleep or just lie down whenever you can, even if it feels strange at first. It will be easier than you think when you're tired…!
Don't let family or friends stop by put you off. You don't have to always be on display and clean for guests. If you just need to rest, they'll understand. They could walk the buggy around the park while you took a nap.
How to feed your baby
It's normal and healthy for babies to want to eat often. This is mostly because their stomachs are so small, and it also helps them get a good supply of breast milk.
Some new dads don't know what they can do to help if their partner is breastfeeding. But there are many useful things you can do to help your partner. You could try getting her drinks (yes, this is important!) and giving her a break when she needs it.
Some mums and babies need about six weeks to figure out how to breastfeed. Once breastfeeding is going well, you can start giving your baby a bottle of expressed breast milk or a mix of breast milk and formula milk. However, using formula can make your breast milk supply go down.
If you and your partner feed your little one formula from the start, you can help with bottle-feeding and making bottles from the start.
Take care of yourself
At first, having a baby can take up all of your time, but don't forget to make time for yourself to do the things you used to enjoy.
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