So your bundle of joy is finally here, you did all the research to purchase the best pram, the latest carseat, you have been reading every mummy blog out there – your hubby/partner/boyfriend came to some lamaze classes, put the cot together, painted the nursery and even with all this we feel minimally prepared for what parenthood throws us! Women are “generally” intrinsically more nurturing and knowledgeable about catering to the needs of a new human, but even so there is a lot of on the job learning!
So now lets cut to darling daddy and look at how much support is out there for new dads. How many dad’s meetup groups at coffee clubs are there? You don’t often hear men talking about how many times the baby fed last night at the pub! When there is so much upheaval in the new stages of parenthood IT IS COMPLETELY NORMAL to experience a grieving of your old life!
In the early stages the baby doesn’t really rely on the father for survival, and many men don’t know what their role is at this time. Many can seem to fumble along the way and stab guesses at what he “should” be doing and how he can best support a tired new mama. But it doesn’t take much discouragement here for a man to subconsciously feel that disconnecting is the safest bet.
At such a time where we are all expected to feel happy about our new little family member both parents can struggle with admitting to themselves that it wasn’t what they expected at times – let alone communicating that to one another! Women naturally talk amongst themselves and can sometimes get relief by knowing that others feel the same. Dads on the other hand don’t often get the same support.
Men can suffer from Paternal Post Natal Depression in the first 3-6 months but even fail to ever truly connect with their children on a deep level. Quite often men say they feel afraid to seem like they are complaining as they aren’t the ones pregnant, giving birth, breast feeding or drastically altering their lives the way their partner does but men have other things that can contribute to post baby blue’s/anxieties…
- Sleepless Nights
- Financial Worry
- Feeling they can do no right
- Stressing if they didn’t have a good connection with their parents
- Not feeling they know what they are doing
- Rocky relationship with their partner
- Feeling they will lose themselves
- Worrying if they will be a good father
- How they will know what the baby needs
- When they will get your attention again (sexually too)
- How they will balance work, family and social commitments
That’s just to name a few!! There are ways we can as partners support our men into their new role…
- Communicating from a calm place exactly what it is that we need them to help us with – they are not mind readers.
- Positive reinforcement – really praising what they are doing well, this will boost their new baby confidence and make them feel capable of doing more.
- Relinquishing Control – If the way they do it isn’t quite how you do it but the finished product is similar, bite your tongue as this can undermine his confidence.
- Reassure him of your love for him even if in the early days you don’t feel you want intimacy.
- Make time for eachother to communicate honestly about what is going on for each of you.
- If sex is off the table in the early days let him know what you are available for intimately, being held, a massage, a beautiful kiss – if he can offer this without pushing for more you will feel safe and probably end up wanting more!!
- Schedule date nights! These may look very different than the old days but they are just for you and him!
- Breast is best when possible BUT if there is an option to express and let Dad do a late night feed once in a while I believe this can be very healthy for them to bond, you get some much needed sleep so can be a win win if you are open to this.
- Check out the community and see if there are Dad Groups in your area or socialize with other new dads/families.
- Seek advice/coaching from a professional
It’s not always an easy time but the simple steps above can make two becoming three a much easier transition and with clear, communicating, connecting families life is filled with so much more joy.
Stephanie Dey Birth Coach & Doula – Steph is a qualified doula, tantric practitioner and pre/post natal yoga teacher. Her passion lies in weaving tantric philosophy through pregnancy, childbirth and beyond. Keeping couples connected and communicating and specializing in transition work for new dad’s or dad’s to be!