Being a Dad in the Postpartum Period
In our last article we talked about the important role a dad has in the birth process. But what happens when baby comes home? This can be a tricky time for dads, who might feel out of their depth, or think there is not much they can do to help. Nothing could be further from the truth. Your partner and baby need you now more than ever. So let’s take a look at some of the things you may be facing, and what you can do to help.
Parental sleep and new babies don’t usually go hand in hand, so you need to have a plan.
Try and work out a routine that allows you both a bit of real rest. Even if mum is breast feeding there are ways you can help. Perhaps you could do every second nappy change and settling during the night, so mum doesn’t have to get up every time, or you might take all the changes/settlings before midnight. Decide what works for you.
Don’t underestimate the power of the nap. If the weather is good, take baby for a walk for an hour and give mum time for an uninterrupted nap. Any time mum can sleep without keeping one ear open for baby is like gold.
And always remember, mum is not only sleep deprived, but is recovering from growing and birthing a human, not to mention producing milk for said human. She needs all the rest she can get.
Be the Housekeeper
Sadly, household chores don’t go away when you have a new baby. Do as much of the cleaning, washing, shopping and cooking as you can. And let her know you’re on top of it so she isn’t left worrying that it’s not getting done.
The first month or two is the ideal time to get help around the house – either ask friends or family or hire a cleaner. A Postpartum Doula will also help with light housework and cooking.
It takes a lot of nourishment to produce milk for a baby. Make sure she is getting the nutrition she needs. If cooking is not one of your superpowers, don’t be shy in asking friends and family to help. Alternatively, a good Postpartum Doula can provide you with specially designed meals for the breastfeeding mum.
The value of a snack and something to drink while she is feeding baby cannot be over-stated.
Be the Gatekeeper
Take it upon yourself to make sure well-wishers don’t overstay their welcome. If mum looks tired, send them on their way. Try to make sure you always have something on hand to feed and water the inevitable visitors. And clean up after they leave.
Be Actively Present
Yes, you may have had a hard day at work and want to come home and relax. But mum has had a hard day at home taking care of your baby with little or no support. So when you get home, roll up your sleeves and pitch in. Not only will your partner appreciate it but caring for your baby presents a great bonding opportunity.
Don’t do the ‘Would you like me to cook dinner? What would you like?’ thing. Take ownership. “I’ll cook dinner. How about [insert your signature dish here]?’ The same goes for all the household chores. Notice what needs to be done and just do it. And do it properly – squirting bleach in the toilet and saying you’ve cleaned the bathroom just won’t cut it!
A word about the Baby Blues
It is normal for mums to feel down after the birth of a baby. Hormones combined with exhaustion can have a negative effect on mood. But it is important to monitor whether mum’s mood is normal baby blues or has tipped over into Postpartum Depression. If you feel this might be the case, seek help from a professional as soon as possible.
It is not only mums who suffer from the baby blues. One in four men suffer from some degree of depression after the birth of a baby. So be aware of your own mental health and seek help if you need it.
Help is at Hand
Being a new parent is hard on both mums and dads. You are trying to learn a new job, whilst at the same time being sleep deprived and hormonal. Finding someone who can help support you in this transition from partners to family can be invaluable.
A Postpartum Doula can help you with just about any of the tasks you will need to be on top of, and at the same time brings a wealth of experience and knowledge that will help you master some of those things which you have had no experience with before.
If you would like to talk about the benefits using a Postpartum Doula can provide I would be happy to chat. Contact me on 0422 258 771 or: