Are you a first time father? Follow these words of advice!
There’s no getting away from it, the first few months of fatherhood are a wild ride. The joyful high of welcoming a new buddy into your home will go hand in hand with sleepless nights and general anxiety at every little cough, weird noise and gurgle they make. If one thing’s certain, it’s that you won’t get everything right first time, but things will start to settle before you know it. In the meantime, here are a few tips that could help smooth the way.
Play the hero’s assistant rather than the hero.
From day one, your partner will have her hands full with the new baby, and the new baby will have eyes for nobody but your partner. While it’s great (and vital for your relationship with your new child) to get your hands dirty changing nappies and rocking them off to sleep, your main role will likely be one of support – keeping the place clean, making dinners, doing the shopping; that kind of thing. It’s still heroic – just in, like, a different way.
When they cry, don’t tune out – tune in.
New babies cry. A lot. It doesn’t matter if they seem perfectly content, within seconds their faces can suddenly scrunch up and they’ll start belting out their sad little bleats. Hard as it might be, listen carefully and you’ll quickly realise each cry is different. This one means she’s tired, this one means he’s hungry, and this scream means she doesn’t like the footy and wants you to change the channel. Soon you’ll be an expert.
Know your emergency options.
There’ll be times at first when you’ll want quick advice or an expert’s opinion. Have a list of important numbers ready on your phone just in case, including your midwife, obstetrician and GP. The breastfeeding helpline is excellent if your partner is struggling with feeding, while the government offers a counselling and advice helpline for parents of children up to a year old.
Exercise the three Ps – Patience, Patience and Proactivity.
Waking up three times a night can make you feel like you’ve been in several car crashes – you’ll probably look like it, too. But rather than lying in bed cursing, offer to help with the wake-ups, especially if your partner is expressing or you’re formula feeding. Being patient and proactive can feel energising and, weirdly, can even help you feel less tired the next day.
Make it up as you go along.
Seriously! Of course, it’s easy to get on the net to check every last thing and, at times, you’ll be grateful all that information is so accessible. But try not to lose sight of your own intuition – after all, it’s what generations of parents have relied on. And remember all kids are different, just as all dads are different. Only you are the dad to your child, so trust yourself.