Becoming a dad can be a stressful, worrisome, and nerve-wracking time. Most of the attention is on mum and baby, with little focus on soon-to-be dads.
It's natural to feel confused, lost, and on the sidelines during pregnancy and in those early months of new fatherhood. While dad does his absolute best to be there for mum and baby, there are many things a dad-to-be can do to support his partner and himself during this transition to fatherhood.
Build Your Skills – From the very beginning, get stuck in with dressing, changing, washing, feeding, and playing with your baby. The more you interact, support and care for your baby, the greater your parenting skills will develop, and your confidence will grow. Of course, everything takes practice, so allow yourself to make mistakes and try again.
Bonding is From Birth – Your baby is ready to bond with you as soon as they are born. Don't underestimate the power of skin-to-skin contact for dad and baby. Take every opportunity to place your naked newborn against your bare chest. In this way, you are connecting with your baby through touch and stimulating your baby's brain development.
Talk to Your Baby – Talking to your baby at every opportunity helps improve their social skills, develop their language, and strengthen your relationship with them. Telling stories, singing songs, and reading books are great ways to bond with and stimulate your baby.
Look After Your Relationship – Many things fall to the wayside when parenthood takes over. A baby can certainly put a strain on even the strongest relationship. Make a point to stay positive and support each other in the difficult phases and stages of parenthood. Share the load, and talk to each other about how you feel and what you need.
Ask for Help – You can't do it all, nor should you have to. Having a newborn is overwhelming and exhausting. The new responsibilities can be overbearing. You will be challenged, but you don't have to rise to the challenge without the support of friends and family.
Find the Right Information – There are many places that now provide dedicated support, advice and information for new dads. The antenatal classes rarely include anything from the father's point of view so inform yourself by searching out groups like From Lads to Dads who provide dedicated support for new dads.
Be Mindful of Your Mental Wellbeing – Paternal postnatal depression is a real occurrence, with 1 in 10 dads experiencing depression or anxiety in the postnatal period. It often goes undiagnosed so please be mindful of any behavioural or mood changes that are out of the ordinary for you. Visit your GP and be mindful that new fatherhood can impact life in this way.