Becoming a father for the first time is an adventure. There are few things in life that are both exciting and scary at the same time, and fatherhood is no exception. When I look back to when I became a father for the first time, there are many things I wish I had done differently. Parenting is an evolving craft and as time goes on you learn that there are always room to improve. Fathers, in particular, play a very important role in parenting and have a large impact on their children’s livelihood. For that reason, I came up with the following advice to help you along your journey.
- DO: Ask your wife what she needs help with. Your wife will be exhausted after getting home from the hospital, and she may be up all night feeding the baby. She is going to need help with something, even if it’s getting a chore done around the house. Ask her what she wants or needs, and find out how you can help her with the baby. Little things go a long way for a sleep-deprived momma. Be her knight in shining armor!
- DON’T: Complain. Seriously. Don’t even think about complaining about how tired you may be or about how much time your wife is spending with the baby. Your wife just endured hours of intense labor and is constantly feeding the baby. Do you think she likes to have a tiny human constantly attached to her chest (she does, to a certain extent), or to hardly get more than a couple hours of sleep at a time? Oh, you have a kink in your neck? That’s cute. Try pushing a human being through your body and see how your neck feels then. Trust me, any whining will not be well-received from your other half.
- DO: Give massages. I learned that my wife has a lot of aches and pains after giving birth, and they get worse after sitting or lying in the same position while feeding the baby all day and night. Foot massages and shoulder rubs help relieve the pain and pressure, and they can be done while you’re both in bed or watching T.V. on the couch. Don’t wait for her to ask, just do it. These small gestures show that you are thinking about your other half and can help strengthen your bond. Now, don’t go into this thinking you’ll get a little something-something in return. Do it because you love her and want her to feel good. If you get something in return, then that’s just an added bonus, but it should never be your main objective.
- DO: Make sure your wife gets plenty of rest. She will need time to heal and gain her strength back after the delivery, so do your part in helping her relax. Offer to take the baby out of the room so she can get a nap in. If she is breastfeeding the baby, have her pump so you will have a couple bottles to feed the baby with while your wife is resting. This one-on-one time with your baby is very important and it will improve your confidence in caring for the little one. It will also improve the bond you have with your child as well.
- DON’T: Leave your other half alone all the time. You may be tempted to go out about your business as usual, but what you have to remember is that your family dynamic has changed. You can’t just go out with your buddies anytime you please, or take your wife to the movies like you used to. You have to account for the new baby and possibly for the fact that your wife has to stay on bedrest until she is fully healed. If your wife is taking time off of work for a while, or has decided to be a stay-at-home mom, she may begin to feel stir crazy. Your wife may feel even lonelier after you go back to work. If your other half is like mine, she may not come forward and say she’s going stir crazy because she doesn’t want you to feel like she’s complaining. So make sure you are spending quality time with your wife, even if it’s curled up on the couch watching her favorite movie. Take her and the baby out, and offer to take the baby for a few hours so your wife can go out with her friends.
- DO: Show your appreciation. Your wife is working hard caring for your little one and her new life as a mother will be filled with self-sacrifice and dedication. Share how much you appreciate how she takes care of your little family and how proud you are of the mother and wife she has become. Any hard-working person likes to hear how much they are appreciated, especially mothers. Their vocation is a selfless one and their families tend to forget how much they rely on the mother and wife. Make sure your wife knows how much you love her and how much you appreciate everything she does for you and your child.
I hope you found these tips helpful. If you need more information, please feel free to visit a pregnancy resource center near you!