The First Few Weeks After Birth: What New Dads Need To Know

If you missed the following advice for new dads: 25 Things New Dads Need to Know About Pregnancy, and the 25 Things New Dads Need to Know About Birth I suggest starting there.

Once you bring your baby home from the hospital you and your spouse are on your own. No more nurses, no more doctors. On. Your. Own. Bringing home a new baby is a lot like being told to go sail a boat across the ocean with no instruction manual and never having sailed before. The learning curve is steep, you’ll often wonder if you’re doing it right or if you’re going to injure the boat.  You’ll wonder if you’re going to die in the middle of the storms, but eventually you’ll get the hang of it and sail along beautifully. You’ll learn to navigate the rough waters, and enjoy the smooth seas.

I’ve compiled some advice from several veteran dads and their wives about what you need to know regarding the weeks after birth…aka The Postpartum Period… 

10 Things To Help With Postpartum Depression

ppd pic

As I said in my transparent look of Postpartum Depression I was determined with our second baby to do all I could to help prevent PPD the second time around.

Here are some of the things I learned…

1. Ask (or accept offers) for help.  This is the number one piece of advice I can give. If someone offers to make you a meal, get their phone number and call them. You do not need to do everything. Trust me, you will appreciate not having to think about what to make for dinner. Actually, start a mealtrain! That way you can direct people to sign up for a specific day to bring you a meal and you don’t need to worry about it. If someone offers to come clean you house…TAKE THEM UP ON IT. You might need to allow them to hold your baby for a few when they’re all done, but it’s so worth it. You won’t be able to do it all yourself, and it’s important to know that’s okay.

2. Surround yourself with other parents. Find a go-to person for all those parenting questions; someone you can call when you need advice, need to know if you’re acting sane, need an ear to listen and let you know that what you’re experiencing is perfectly normal…or not.

3. Identify potential triggers. E.g. I knew if I didn’t find out ahead of time what we were having I had the potential to feel depression (especially with the surge of post baby hormones) if we had another boy. I wanted to feel elated at his birth that we were adding another baby to the family. See Baby Gender Disappointment. For some it might be having an overbearing parent, or parent in law, that might have the potential to hang around too much. Or it could be knowing you’ll feel too stressed if the house isn’t immaculate. Or for others still it might be something else entirely. The important thing is to address it beforehand (as much as possible…you won’t know every potential trigger) and have a plan.

4. Ask those closest to you to monitor how you’re feeling/acting. It’s normal to be weepy and emotional. But if you start to feel like it’s going beyond that, take it seriously. If you’re like me and don’t realize how bad it is while you’re in it, make sure you let your spouse and/or friends/family know it’s okay to suggest help.

5. Get out and about. Go to coffee with a friend, go shopping, go to dinner, go for a walk. Whatever it is, just get out. If you have a baby that allows you to get out with him/her, then by all means, do. But, if you have a baby like my first, try to find outings that are easier to manage a crying baby. Getting out for a walk, or exercise in general (nothing strenuous for the first 6 weeks) can help produce endorphins which help your overall sense of well-being.

6 Don’t expect everything to go according to your plan. Life is unpredictable and babies are, well, babies. Just when you think you have them figured out, they throw you a curve ball. Your baby may not sleep, you may struggle in ways you didn’t realize, your baby may

7. Sleep. Okay, remember how I said I hated (understatement) when people told me to do that? Well, I hated it because inevitably whenever I would lay down for a nap my son would wake up just as I was dosing off (It would take me 30 minutes to fall asleep which is exactly when he would wake up). However, there is truth in the statement that you should sleep. Only what I want to suggest is sleep even when your baby is awake. What I mean by that is if you are one whose child does not sleep, take up one of those people on their offer to help and have them watch your baby (yes, even if your baby is awake) so you can get caught up on sleep. I had my son at 3:42 am, the doctors and guests didn’t leave until after 5:45 am, and the pediatrician came in to do the circ at 7:00 am. Guests started pouring back in around 8:00 am…should I continue? Needless to say, we were up for basically 40 hours straight. It’s a hard thing to catch up on. And then to have a child that didn’t sleep made it that much harder. In hindsight I wish I had asked someone (other than my husband because he was so tired too) to watch our son and only wake me for nursing…I could have missed one day of his life instead of weeks. Would it have helped? I don’t know, but I sure wouldn’t have been as exhausted while I was depressed. Fortunately, I was blessed with a 2nd child that slept 20 hours a day for the first few months. While you’re still in the hospital, don’t be afraid to send the baby out with the nurses so you can get some sleep. It doesn’t make you a bad parent, and it doesn’t mean you love your child any less. If your baby is anything like mine was, it may be the only sleep you’ll have for awhile and it’s so important for your recovery to rest. This will be especially true if you have the baby in the middle of the night…you’ll need to get caught up on sleep!

8. Make sure you’re getting your Omega-3s. I didn’t try this one, but a lot of the reading I’ve done has shown me there is some research backing this up. Interesting thought. 

9. If postpartum depression does happen to you, know that you are not aloneYou are not the first, you will not be the last. Seek out help.

10. Talk with your Doctor. If you suspect (or a loved one) that you’re suffering from PPD make sure to talk with your Doctor. It may be necessary to be on medication.


Please know that since I am not a Doctor any “advice” I suggest should be run by a Doctor first. 

Readers: I hope you’ve found something to either carry with yourself, or pass along to a friend. Please do! It’s so important to know you’re not alone. Anyone else have any tips to add? What did you do to help get rid of, or prevent postpartum?

Postpartum Depression: a transparent view

When you’re pregnant your Doctor may speak of Baby Blues and Postpartum Depression. Baby Blues affect 70% of women following birth. Most women will admit to being weepy after having baby, or being more emotional. Postpartum depression affects 10-15% of women after birth. Strangely, you don’t hear much from those 10%. Oh sure, you hear it referenced when you’re pregnant, usually by your doctor, or there have been some celebrities that have shed some light on it, but more often than not it gets dismissed as it will never happen to me.

Exactly my words; it will never happen to me. I had always wanted to be a mommy. When I was 10 I got my first babysitting job. I then spent the next 14 years in childcare in some fashion; babysitter, daycare, nanny. I was pretty darn good; I usually had a waiting list for Friday nights, and had families offer to pay more just to ensure I would remain theirs. I knew how to hold, clothe, bathe, rock, burp, sing to, and cuddle babies. I had been on trips with families as a nanny and I had stayed days at a time with families as a nanny. Calm a screaming baby? You got it. Change the nastiest of all nasties? Done. So, you can see why I thought I would I would be a natural pro at motherhood and handle it with ease and grace.

I was not prepared for the sledge hammer that hit me over the head after my first son was born.

I understand why not very many people talk about it.  No one wants to admit wanting nothing to do with their brand new baby. No one wants to admit they were filled with regret. No one wants to admit spending days crying, laying on a bed in complete exhaustion wondering if they made a mistake. A.terrible.mistake. Having a brand new baby at home is supposed to be incredible. You’re supposed to be filling out birth announcements, swooning over your baby, and taking picture after picture (I think I took 2 pictures in the first 5 weeks.)

Leading up to and immediately following the birth of our son we were in the middle of chaos. As is my style, I had taken on too much. My husband was remodeling our house so we were living with my parents and brother; 5 adults, 4 dogs, and a brand new baby all in their house (not having a place to nest was hard but figuring out nursing with my step dad and brother over my shoulder was harder). My sister-in-law was getting married 4 days later and I was devastated that I couldn’t appropriately be a part of her wedding (We missed the rehearsal because we were back at the pediatrician’s office getting our son’s infection looked at. I wasn’t able to help with any of the setup or other matron of honory things. I was so exhausted after the ceremony that I had to duck out of the reception early.). Christmas was a week after his birth.  I didn’t have a network of mommy friends; I knew very few moms my age and wasn’t very close with the ones I did know. And, I went from having a lot of attention when I was pregnant to feeling very alone, very isolated afterwards.

In addition to all the events that were going on, I was afraid to ask for help. I thought I should be able to handle it all myself; I thought I should be able to cook, clean, take care of our son, be a great wife, and nurse every 2 hours for an hour (yes, that is really how long it would take him and if I didn’t oblige, he would be screaming 20 minutes later), be a great sister in law, and hand make all our Christmas gifts. Boy was I wrong. I was frustrated that I wasn’t doing it all. My mom was cooking the meals and cleaning while we lived there, I was hardly taking care of our son, I was trying my hardest to please everyone, and I felt like I was failing…miserably.

The tears flowed about as often as my milk. I felt like I was being weighed down by a boulder; like I was being crushed. I longed for a connection with our son and was upset with myself that I didn’t feel one. And to top it all off, our son didn’t sleep. I would always get angry extremely pissed when someone would say sleep when your baby sleeps. Well, that’s great for someone that easily takes naps and has a baby that sleeps for more than 30 minutes at a time. You  could literally set the timer for 30 minutes and my son would be up. Nothing, no amount of nannying or childcare, could have prepared me for that level of exhaustion.

Luckily, my depression only lasted for about 6 weeks. The. Longest. Six. Weeks. Of. My. Life. However, for some moms this lasts months. Luckily, I never wanted to hurt my child. Some moms with severe postpartum depression do. Others want to hurt themselves thinking their baby and family would be better without them. Everyone’s experience with PPD can be different. Some more extreme and severe than others. I thought what I was experiencing was just the baby blues; I didn’t realize how depressed I was though until I got out of it.

I don’t know what happened but one day I just woke up and felt better. Was he sleeping better? No. Was I sleeping better? Not really. Could it have been that we were finally settled in to our own place? Maybe. Could it have been that the chaos had subsided? Maybe. Whatever it was, the cloud lifted. I immediately felt the connection with my son that I so longed for…like he and I were meant to be. Did I cry still? Sure. I still do. But for entirely different reasons. And that’s okay. I’m a mom.

And for the record, I may have known how to take care of a baby based off of all my experience nannying and I may have felt like I loved those kids I nannied for like they were my own, but nothing prepared me for the love of being a parent (after the postpartum depression lifted).

In another post I will be sharing how to help someone that is affected with Postpartum Depression.