I cannot tell you how happy I was to hear my friend's husband say these words and the words that followed during our chat. He may not be ready for EVERYTHING that comes with having two children (who is?), but I know that he is ready to face it head on. For us veteran parents, we remember all too well what it is like being a first time parent, no matter how much time has gone by. However, we also know that each child is different and having a second (or third or fourth) child will be a completely new experience that we cannot prepare for.
The excitement of a new baby brings "all the feels" until sh*t gets real! You can quote me on that (:
Birthing parents already have so much to worry about and let's face it, sometimes dads and partners need some help and guidance in regards to what to do and their role as a parent and help mate. Below are some tips for new fathers and partners that will help them thrive through the postpartum period:
- Be patient with the birthing parent and the baby. Everything may not fall right into place, but it will get easier with time. A new baby is a huge adjustment for everyone.
- Take over as much of the household duties and responsibilities as possible in the first few weeks so that recovery and bonding with baby are top priority for the birth parent.
- Skin-to-skin contact is great for parents, partners and even siblings. It helps regulate baby's temperature, boosts mental development, makes breastfeeding easier, reduces baby’s stress and pain, helps them sleep and promotes bonding with you.
- The birthing parent will need lots of physical and emotional support. There will be a new rush of hormones in their body after giving birth, so try to be understanding and prepared for a wave of emotions. Keep an eye on their mood.
- Get used to the idea of sleeping less and taking naps when you can.
- Be open-minded and supportive of the birthing parent's decisions to breast/chest feed, bottle feed, co-sleep, etc. Many different things may be tried and tested to see what works best in the first few weeks after birth.
- You too can experience baby blues and postpartum depression. It doesn't just happen to the birthing parent.
- Listen to the birthing parent and be good to them. Your connection as a couple and as parents is especially important right now. Be as available as you can for them so that you can stay in tune with their needs. Make sure you give them some “me” time each day.
- Celebrate! All of the little things like being able to sleep for a few hours consecutively or pumping 10 ounces of breast milk are things that new parents can and should celebrate to keep your bond strong during such a busy time.
- Try to be present at as many postpartum doctor’s visits for baby and your partner as you can. This extra step of support will not go unnoticed and it will also give you a chance to ask questions you have to the nurses and doctors.
- If you can not be there for your partner and the baby due to work and other responsibilities, make sure someone is available to help. This will make things easier for the whole family. Why not hire a doula?!
- Sex will be on hold for a while. Be patient and let your partner come to you when they are ready.
- Be confident as a father and/or partner and ask other partners/fathers for advice if you need to.
- Remember, you and your partner will have different parenting styles and they may feel the need to be in control of everything pertaining to baby at first. Gently remind them that you are there to help.
- Be good to yourself. Becoming a parent is new and overwhelming and you will also need time to regroup so you can be the best partner and father you can.
Patrice and Kevin, Congratulations again! Thank you for allowing me to share in your special day. I cannot wait to meet Miss Parker Ann and be your doula!