Becoming a dad is a big change to your life and routine. A sometimes shift in your intimate relationship with your partner, personal identity and new emotions may happen that can be demanding and overwhelming at times.
Changes that your partner will undergo during their postpartum period start from the moment the newborn arrives and goes on till a year or more. Firstly, there will be physical recovery from your wife having a baby that usually takes a minimum of 6 weeks. There will also be an emotional adjustment for both you and your partner from having a baby and bringing a new life into your life and family.
Most dad’s aren’t sure of what to do and how to help once the baby is born. Most of the time, it just seems like the baby wants their mum and her breast! It is normal for dads to feel overwhelmed and helpless, most often clueless on what they’re able to do to help both mum and baby.
20% of women experience postpartum depression or anxiety within the first year of having their baby which ultimately impacts the family unit as well. But remember, not only do women experience postpartum depression but dads as well! It’s called paternal postpartum depression and it is equally as serious that requires help.
These are a list of tips dads are able to do and help out their partner and yourself once your baby has come back home. Your partner will need to feel like they aren’t alone through this process of recovery and re-adjusting life.
Create a new “normal”
Some dads assume that once their partner’s pregnancy and confinement period is over, life will soon get back to normal. Or at least, some form of normalcy in life – those days are gone and the sooner you accept it, the faster you’ll be able to work out what your new routines will become. It’s a good tip not to force or fight anything and work the newborn’s routine around yours.
That’s not how it’ll be for at least the first few months, years even. Just go with the fall and sooner or later, a rhythm will flow between you and your partner on how to handle and care for your newborn. It definitely takes practice and plenty of time so don’t expect as a new dad to ace everything on your first go.
Gone are the days of your uninterrupted sleeping routine! Remember, it’s only fair that you take turns to visit the baby’s crib in the middle of the night (it’s your baby as much as it is your partner’s). Some parents opt to put their newborn’s bassinet in their room or next to the bed for a shorter trip to the baby’s room. Putting in the extra effort of keeping your partner company whilst she’s feeding/ breastfeeding the baby at 2am in the morning will go a long way in your partner’s books.
Besides, you’ll definitely be wanting those late night cuddles and it’ll add and strengthen the bond between father and child. If you’re home during the day, offer to care for the newborn and let your partner rest whilst you’ll be on baby duty.
Both of you will need to catch up on sleep, but remember that your partner’s body is also recovering physically from putting extreme trauma on her body when giving birth. On top of that, if your partner has opted to breastfeed the newborn, her body will expel plenty of energy making milk as well.
A good tip to manage the newborn’s routines would be for example if your partner is covering the late night, throughout the night shifts, it’ll be good if they would be able to sleep in slightly whilst you cover the early morning feed allowing your partner to sleep. You could also juggle baby duty in the morning before work and preparing some breakfast up for your partner!
Carrying your baby in a sling or carrier can easily be done whilst setting up breakfast. If you are cooking over the stove and prefer your baby not to be so close whilst cooking, fixing up their bouncer chair or basket in the kitchen near you would also be a great way to multitask.
Small acts like these will go a long way with your partner for your willingness to pitch in and help out as much as you can whilst juggling your work responsibilities. Again, this will help strengthen the bond between father and child and your one on one time with your kid. Little tip: babies are in a much better mood in the mornings than evenings so really, you’re winning in this situation!
Unless this isn’t your first child, you probably won’t know what extent the lack of sleep will affect your partner and yourself. Communication is key here and will probably be mentioned how important it is throughout this article. There isn’t a proper way to physically prepare you and your partner for the amount of sleepless nights ahead but what you can do is, discuss ways the both of you can help each other out to help catch up on seep throughout the day.
Remember to go easy on yourselves as the both of you will probably be on a short fuse and not at your best from the lack of sleep because it is a tough time but you’ll get through it!
Keeping an eye on her mood
Did you know that 1 in 5 women experience some sort of postpartum depression or anxiety? It is a serious medical condition that requires treatment so it’s important for dads to identify the symptoms, warning signs and the difference between baby blues and postpartum depression. Baby blues are normal and will typically fade after a while. However, if your partner is still extremely overwhelmed over the baby after coming home a few weeks, encourage them to seek help.
Signs such as irritability, sleep disruptions that are not caused by the baby, crying constantly over no particular reason are reason to cause concern over. Don’t leave it up to her to make an appointment or bring it up with her doctor as she may not recognise the signs and symptoms for postpartum depression. Make time and accompany them to their next doctor’s appointment and ease her into confronting the doctor regarding these signs.
Being good to yourself
Not only is your partner important during this postpartum period but it’s also important to take care of yourself. It’s natural for the father to feel overwhelmed with emotions flying all over the place from the new baby, stress from your partner’s pregnancy and confinement to new responsibilities coming into play. One in four dads experience something called PPND short for paternal postnatal depression which is essentially a dads version of postpartum depression.
You may feel a new expectation levels that is required from you after becoming a dad and feeling left out as your partner’s sole attention is only on the newborn that is why communicating with your partner on how you’re feeling is not only important for you but for them as well.
They aren’t mind readers on how you’re feeling and what you’re going through so talk it out with them and if you feel like you do have PPND, don’t hesitate to seek professional help – which is important for the health and wellness of you and your family. Also remember to keep your energy levels up by eating well balanced and full of nutrional foods and rest as much as you can.
Be good to her
Your partner’s mind is probably filled with a million things going through at once. Things like ‘how long has it been since the baby’s fed?’, ‘is my milk good enough for the baby?’, ‘were the part strelized properly?’ and so many other things to ensure the health and care for your baby.
The last thing on her mind would be household chores if she was the one doing them pre-pregnancy. You could help out by cleaning the kitchen or vacuuming the house or even doing the laundry as baby’s tend to go through alot of their clothes everyday! If your family is able to afford domestic help that lets you both focus your attention and energy on the new baby then that would be great as well.
Try bringing her snack and drink whilst she breastfeeds or giving her a massage at any given time – she’ll appreciate you so much more for all these little things you do. Check in on her if you know she’s breastfeeding and see if she needs anything. Babies tend to fall asleep on the mum so check, does she need a snack? Her phone? Some water? Is the TV controller just out of arms reach? All these may seem trivial and so small but it will mean the world to her.
Small things you’re able to say like “You look amazing or beautiful” is always the right thing to say and goes a long way in her books. Reminding her that she is an amazing woman everyday will make her feel special and loved. If your partner has postpartum health goals she would like to achieve, support her in any way you can. When she’s able to, do some workout routines with her or offer to cook her good nutritional meals.
Your partner’s body will be undergoing physical changes after giving birth, don’t judge her when she needs new clothes to fit her new shape. Those clothes may not be able to fit her anymore and she doesn’t need a reminder or put me down that she’s gained weight through the pregnancy.
Once her confinement care period is over, encourage her to go out with her friends or to spend time alone doing what she loves doing without the baby. It might be hard to get her to leave the baby, but it’s also good that she doesn’t forget to do things for herself as well.
Be a 50-50 father
Don’t worry if you’re not qualified for the job of changing diapers, burping a baby or bathing them. Nobody is the first time round! When there are two parents around, parenting is a two person job. Sharing all jobs on baby care is a must. There is no such thing as changing diapers is the father’s job and giving the baby a bath is a mother’s job. Every job related to baby care is both you and your partner’s job.
Don’t worry about doing things differently than your partner and vice versa- every parents will do things differently and it’s the difference that your baby will love. Your baby will need both you and your partner forever and be confident that you’ll pick things up in no time.
Even though everything baby care should be done by both you and your partner, it doesn’t mean you can’t take ownership of any task given to take the load off one another. You think you can be an expert in sterilizing and storing breastmilk once pumped? Own it and learn up on everything that is to know about it. Have a system in your brain to how many clean bottles are on the counter or in the cupboard so you never run out. Have a system of cleaning all the bottles and sterilizing them every night.
Both you and your partner will have emotional and physical effects after birth that you both will need to work through. Your partner is specially will have extra physical effects from giving birth and will need plenty of rest to recover her body which provides the perfect opportunity to start getting hands on with your baby and strengthen the father baby bond. Not only do most dads feel excited and relieved to have an important role to play after feeling somewhat distant from their baby after looking at the immediate bond between mother and baby.
Checking in whilst you’re at work
Dads will have to remember that you have an escape from the baby by going to work every weekday whilst your partner will be at home 24/7 constantly taking care of the baby. It can sometimes drive you crazy even though things are going exceptionally well at home with the baby.
Most of the time, your partner will be craving adult conversation. Text or call her when you are able to just to check in and once you get home, let her talk or vent any frustrations she may have about her day. If after reaching home, she’s in a foul mood or cranky, immediately get onto baby duty and let her have a walk or something to clear her mind.
These are some tips for new dads during the postpartum period to do for your partner! Remember communication is key and there isn’t anything shameful about seeking help if you or your partner is experience postpartum depression. Take it easy, go with the flow and believe that everything will fall into the perfect routine!