Despite being overjoyed about your new baby, becoming a new father can be an overwhelming feeling. You may even be feeling left out since the last several months have been spent going shopping, decorating, discussing baby names and going to birthing classes.
Finally, you think that life can go back to normal now that baby is here, right?
Well, normal life as you knew it is in the past. “Normal” life for you and your partner will be a new normal with new responsibilities and routines.
You may now be asked to pitch-in a little more around the house. The laundry, grocery shopping and cleaning won’t get done by itself. You will be taking care of a good portion of those now. Mom will be focusing on herself and baby–just as she should. Growing a baby, breastfeeding, and birthing baby is all hard very hard work that requires time to heal, re-energize, and stay strong.
Soon your present routine with baby will become the new normal. The rhythm around the house will soon become natural for both of you. Adjusting to this just takes time. Be patient and give yourself time to adjust.
Until then, here are some suggestions to help make the transition to being now a father and a husband, a little smoother both for you.
GET USED TO FUNCTIONING ON LITTLE SLEEP:
- Whether mom is breastfeeding or bottle feeding, she still needs you. When your baby wakes up, it is helpful if you can bring your baby to her for feedings. If the baby is bottle feeding, let her sleep while you take the 3 a.m. feeding. Look at it as the perfect time to bond with your little one–the priceless, middle of the night cuddles, just the two of you. If she doesn’t need you to take those feedings because she is breastfeeding baby, then change baby’s diaper when she is done feeding baby. You can also get her a glass of water. Provide her with breaks during the day, and let her nap while you take over baby duty.
- Dads are tired too, but mothers are a different kind of tired. A tired that makes you feel completely exhausted due to healing from giving birth and a new baby. If she’s breastfeeding, her body is requiring plenty of extra energy making breast milk.
BE ATTENTIVE TO HER MOOD-AND YOURS:
- Postpartum baby blues are normal and self-limiting. Routinely, the baby blues pass by the time your little one is about two weeks old.
- True postpartum depression (PPD) on the other hand is not normal. Postpartum depression requires professional medical attention and treatment.
- Signs of PPD in mothers will cause the feeling of being overwhelmed-beyond the level of normal. Mothers suffering from clinical depression will exhibit frequent bouts of crying, decreased or increased appetite; insomnia or exhaustion, irritability, and often they experience difficulty bonding with baby. Encourage her to seek professional help. If she refuses, go with her to an appointment to help her address how she is feeling. Often those experiencing postpartum depression have a difficult time recognizing how depressed they are. Make sure you are there to help her get the help she needs to get better.
- In addition to new mothers feeling the baby blues or possibly suffering from postpartum depression, it is possible for dads to suffer from the same condition.
- Dads may feel not only run-down and tired, but a little let down too. Approximately 10% of new fathers can suffer from the “baby blues” or postpartum depression. These feelings can linger on and off from a few days, lasting into weeks, or even a year. This condition applies to both of you. Be sure to seek help if either of you notice the other experiencing any of the signs or symptoms or any other signs of depression.
WHAT ELSE CAN I DO TO HELP?
- Give hugs for no reason at all.
- Bring her something to drink or a snack while she is breastfeeding. You can even feed it to her while she is breastfeeding baby.
- Take care of each other. These moments won’t be forever. Change throughout life is temporary. Embrace your “new normal” the best that you can.
- Realize that parenting is a two-person job-take it on and share the baby care. You are a team.
- Don’t worry guys if you feel like you don’t know how to be a dad or care for your baby. No one is born knowing how to change a diaper, burp a baby, or soothe a baby that is crying. Parenting is definitely on the job training!
- New parents begin their parenting on a learning curve. Most moms and dads learn as they go–one diaper at a time, one sleepless night at a time, and one crying baby at a time.
Be secure in knowing that both mom and baby need your love and attention–and will need it forever. You will pick-up being a daddy in no time at all. Encourage your baby’s mother to contact us for follow up appointments. You can ask us questions about what to expect as a new dad during that appointment.