The road to fatherhood is a daunting yet exciting time. So much is out of a soon-to-be dad’s control as he watches the bump grow, feeling the kicks, and doing everything he can to support mum.
It’s not always easy to prepare for the big day and every day after that. Life changes immeasurably - but until we’re in it, it’s not always easy to pre-empt what life will be like or what fatherhood will bring. Here are some tips for first-time dads:
Bond With Baby
It may be trickier for dad to bond with their newborn in comparison to mum, who may be breastfeeding which is a natural bonding mechanism. Skin-to-skin contact is just as important for dad and baby as it is for mum. The idea behind connecting with your newborn through bodily contact is simple: As well as creating a bond and connection with your baby, skin-to-skin will also regulate your baby's body temperature and will create a calmer baby who (hopefully) cries less. Take every opportunity you can to curl up with your naked (nappy optional!) baby on your bare chest.
Mum needs an incredible amount of support before and after the baby comes along. Remember, it takes the guts of a year for a woman to recover from pregnancy and birth. You are a team, so there is no harm in having a chat about the type of parents you would like to be and how your values will match up. Just bear in mind that once the baby comes along, these may change! Start playing as a team, (which may be a little one-sided until mum recovers) and share the enormous workload which comes with caring for a newborn.
Find Your Dad Friends
Becoming a dad can be quite a shock to the system so it’s a great idea to find support from your dad friends. Having a group that understand the difficulties of parenthood will make this whole transition into fatherhood a little easier.
Acknowledge Life Will Change
This may be the biggest challenge of all when it comes to being a first-time dad. We move from our care-free days with all the time in the world, to broken sleep, and a new routine that is essentially full on! Recognise that life will be quite different when a baby comes along. But remember, it’s a good different!
Mind Your Head
New parenthood is a complicated, exhausting, and confusing time in your life. Be mindful of yourself, and especially your mental wellbeing. Paternal postnatal depression is a real and significant issue for new dads and can affect up to 10% of men in the 3-to-6-month period after a baby arrives. If feelings of sadness, irritability, frustration, anger, and worthlessness creep in, please remember it’s good to talk and to seek medical advice.