The First Few Weeks After Birth: What New Dads Need To Know
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…
- You will think you are going to die from the lack of sleep.
- Call in the troops. Now is the time to put down your pride and ask for help from everyone that is offering. Allow them to bring meals, clean your house, etc. This will be especially helpful weeks 2 and 3 when you’re no longer running on adrenaline.
- Porn star boobs! Your wife’s boobs look awesome but watch out, stimulation causes milk let down.
- Ask your breastfeeding wife to pump once a day when baby is about 3 weeks old so you can share in the joy of feeding as well as give her a chance to get some much needed rest.
- You will immediately take on the protective father role and doubt any man will be good enough to marry your daughter.
- Make sure to take pictures. Lots of pictures. Get pictures of your wife with baby and make sure she’s getting some of you too. And definitely make sure you’re getting pictures together as a family too.
- Monitor your wife’s hormones-baby blues are to be expected but postpartum depression is not. Get help.
- Your wife will be completely uncomfortable in her body after baby. Tell her she is beautiful. Repeatedly.
- Tell your wife you are proud of her. Remember, you are both new at this.
- Your heart could burst with love for your new baby. You will think that you couldn’t possibly love baby any more. Just wait…you can.
- Your baby may drive you crazy. It’s hard for new dads to find their spot in this new thing called parenthood. The baby cries and you don’t know why and you unfortunately aren’t the one that will be able to console them. Don’t take it personally. You may find yourself completely frustrated. Don’t worry, it’s normal.
- It’s normal to wonder if you’re doing everything right. And to feel like you’re doing everything wrong. Be easy on yourself. You’re doing better than you think.
- Expect the unexpected. Just when you get in to a routine, it will change. Just when you think you have your baby figured out, he will change things up.
- If your baby seems colicky suggest keeping a food journal to monitor if there is any correlation between what your wife eats and when your baby gets fussy. Some breastfeeding women experience more food restrictions when they are nursing than they did when they were pregnant.
- The Trifecta. You’re officially initiated into fatherhood once your baby has peed, pooped and spit up on you.
- New babies don’t have tears for the first few weeks but don’t let that fool you in to thinking they don’t cry.
- Buy a newspaper and/or popular news magazine on your baby’s “birth” day. If you forgot, go down to the local newspaper office and pick one up.
- Don’t forget to clean all the creases and folds of your new baby. Trust me. Neck, armpits, elbows, groin, behind the knees. You’re welcome.
- You don’t need to carry a fancy fufferbuns diaper bag. Anything that can carry a diaper, wipes, and a change of clothes is good enough. And keeping it in the car until you need it is golden. No need to carry around more than you have to.
- You will have sex again. Those first 6 weeks may feel like an eternity but be patient.
- Help out during feedings. Keep water and snacks within easy reach of where mama will be nursing baby. In the middle of the night you could bring baby to your wife, change baby, return baby to bed, etc.
- You will have to learn how to share again. You will be sharing your wife with the baby and her attention will no longer solely be yours. In fact, the first few weeks you’ll be lucky if you have any of her attention.
- Take the first shift. The first few weeks is all about survival. New babies often have their days and their nights mixed up so while you may be completely exhausted, your baby is wide awake. You and your spouse will have to figure out how to take shifts so you can both get some rest.
- Learn the bounce. Holding baby against your chest and doing deep knee bends often quiets a crying, fussy baby.
- You will have a new love and appreciation for your wife seeing her as a mom. Go tell her she’s beautiful again. And remember #20.
Make sure to check back later this week for 26 Things New Dads Need to Know About Being An Awesome Dad. At the end of this series I’ll show you where to find a similar list for Moms that a friend of mine wrote a few years ago. Best way to remember to check back is to Follow Transparencies of Motherhood on Facebook!
Readers~What advice would YOU give new dads about the postpartum period? Leave a comment and let me know!
Thanks Nellang Photography for several of these great pictures!