“I’d call 000 but we’re already in Hospital.”
Congratulations Dad! You’ve just survived the birth of your child. Weren’t quite prepared for that hey? You may have gone to the birthing classes and done all the correct things to prepare for the exact moment but still felt like a monkey juggling 3 live cats? There’s a lot more blood, sweat and tears than in the birthing classes.
The journey doesn’t stop there and the next eighteen years are going to be that exact combination of horror, excitement and awe. Fatherhood is an amazing journey but can also be incredibly daunting. There isn’t anything quite like it. The birth of your child will mean enormous changes to your current life.
DAD, this article is written especially for you. No bad breast milk and beer jokes just practical advice on what to expect postnatal and recommendations for coping during this time.
There is nothing wrong about asking your partner for some “me time.” Take the time to unwind, relax and connect with your wider social circle. The calmer and happier you are, the better your partner and baby will be. Call up some of your mates and organise a game of golf for a couple of hours or watch a game of footy. Organise the day and time with your partner, giving her plenty of warning and let her know when you are expected to be home. This will help reduce her anxiety and minimise any opportunity for argument. Offer her the same opportunity for “me time.” If your partner feels uncomfortable to be left alone with the baby/finds it hard to manage with other children, offer to organise a grandparent, family friend or cousin to help.
After the birth of a child many men focus on financial related responsibilities such as wills, school savings, cost of raising a child. This can be very stressful for someone to manage solely. Instead of managing yourself ask your partner for their opinion. Such a discussion splits the responsibility and reduces feelings of isolation and anxiety. Offer to help with household responsibilities when you can and treat household duties as a combined effort. Tackling issues together will help you bond, reducing stress and anxiety.
Baby Bonding is particularly important for your relationship with your relationship with your baby and will help you feel involved and connected to your child reducing risk of developing PPND. If you do feel withdrawn from your baby and home life try small steps to grow closer. Perhaps change a diaper, read a book to the baby or assist with feeding/burping.
Tip: Babies love looking at the human face and at eyes so make an effort to make eye contact with your baby and smile. Be patient. It may take your baby sometime to familiarise themselves with you. Do not get disheartened if they do not settle. This is normal.
Tip: Infants love moving, don’t be afraid to cuddle, bounce and jiggle with your baby!
Tip: A good way to bond with your baby is organise a play date with baby. One-on-one bonding is important and it takes time to work out the relationship between father and child. If you are nervous to be left alone with your baby, practice being in another room with baby or going out into the yard. Slowly you will gain confidence to take the reigns.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
There will be so many things that are different with a new baby. You aren’t expected to know them all. Chances are mum doesn’t know everything either. Work together. Ask her for help. She will commend you for taking charge and making an effort. PPND can affect men too and it is important to discuss with your partner your feelings. Partner relationships can break down if you do not communicate your feelings. Withdrawing and aggression can make your partner think you do not care and so it is important to communicate.
Understanding your partner
Another part of communication understands your partner. Arguing with your partner can make you feel isolated and alone. Understanding what she is going through can help you communicate with your partner better.
Tip: Be patient with physical contact, depending on how much pain she is this will take time. Generally intimacy should refrain for 6 weeks postpartum. Wait til she is ready and ask her she is feeling but do not be pushy with intimacy. Show her affection with hugs and kisses and maybe the occasional foot rub.
And then there were three
With the arrival of a baby there seems to be less time for partner time. Once you are parents it’s very easy to get lost in your new roles as mum and dad. Remember that you are a couple first. Instead of viewing your baby as the centre of your world, think of your baby’s arrival as an event that enhances your life with your partner.
Tip: Experts suggest you take time together. You may not feel comfortable leaving your newborn baby but after a few weeks it is important to have some alone time with your partner. It can just be for an hour or so perhaps lunch or a quick walk.
In our next blog post we will dedicate a whole blog to a very important topic postnatal; sex.