Having a baby is challenging and life-changing and this is magnified even more for first-time parents. Many of those who have welcomed their first baby into the world get a mild shock during the first few weeks, no matter how seemingly prepared they are.
Although both moms and dads have a lot of adjustments to do, most moms naturally take on a bigger chunk of the responsibilities and baby duties after giving birth. The first few weeks for a new mom is made even more difficult while recovering from childbirth and delivery. However, dads need not be left out on the whole experience! There are a lot of things new dads can do to bond with the baby and to ease the load on the new mom. Below are just a few of them.
1. Be on-call while she is breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is difficult and it is a huge struggle during the first few weeks after giving birth. The best way to make this easy on the new mom is to support her breastfeeding efforts and to be her on-call assistant while she is nursing the baby. She will spend countless hours when she may not be able to do anything else because she is breastfeeding, so make her feel less of a hostage by asking her if she needs anything, bringing her water to drink, or giving her a few healthy snacks to munch on. Make sure she is comfortable and relaxed.
2. Rock and hold the baby. The only thing that you couldn’t do once the baby comes out is breastfeed, so take it upon yourself to learn how to do everything else that the new mom does. Rocking and holding the baby are great opportunities to bond with him. Skin-to-skin contact, also called kangaroo care, is not for mommy and baby alone –- feel free to have your skin-to-skin time with your baby as well! The new mom will definitely appreciate having empty arms even for just a few minutes when you have the baby in yours.
3. Change baby’s diaper. Again, everything a new mom does (except for breastfeeding), a new dad can do too! Do your share of the dirty work that comes with it by making sure to take over diaper duties when you’re around. The new mom, inevitably, will learn this task faster than you, but this is not a reason for you to delegate all diaper duties to her. She will greatly appreciate having you as a partner in this as well.
4. Let her sleep. There is nothing more precious to any new parent than sleep! If you have been doing and helping a lot since the baby arrived, then both of you need some shuteye. However, most new moms find it more difficult to get some needed sleep because they are often the ones waking up with the baby during the night. Take care of the new mom by letting her steal some sleep whenever you are around. Let her know you will look after the baby while she takes a much-needed nap.
5. Give baby a bath. It's a scary task that most new dads dare not try, but this can actually be a great bonding activity for you and your baby. Make sure to prepare by watching the new mom give your baby a bath. If she can do it, you can too! And she will be more than happy to let you take over on some days.
6. Wake up during night-time feedings. Whether your baby is formula-fed or breastfed, there is no reason why you cannot help out during night-time feedings. Depending on how you choose to feed your baby, you can prepare a bottle of formula, prepare a bottle of expressed breast milk, or just stay up to keep the new mom company as she nurses baby.
7. Cook for her. With the large amounts of time that taking care of the baby will take up, the new mom will have very little left for other things she used to do. If she is the one who cooks for you, then do not expect her to be able to continue doing this just like before. Instead, surprise her by cooking for her this time around. Include some ingredients that can increase her milk supply and you will be a hero in her eyes.
8. Or, order take-out. If you don’t know how to cook, this is the next best thing. Relieve her of kitchen duties by ordering take-out on your way home. This may be more expensive, but it comes with a free pass to washing the dishes.
9. Run errands. A new mom will have her hands full and mind preoccupied with the new baby. You will be helping out a lot by running errands such as paying the bills or doing the groceries.
10. Give her a massage. Let the new mom have a chance to rest and relax. Giving her a massage is an excellent way to do this and will earn you a lot of brownie points too!
11. Connect her with someone who can help her. There may be times when you will not be able to give the help that she needs, but you can provide ways for her to get it. She might want to be visited by a lactation consultant if she is having breastfeeding difficulties or maybe even just another new mom to talk to. Go the extra mile by doing some research and allowing her to connect with the people who can provide her with what she needs.
12. Compliment her. A lot of new moms will feel bad about their post-pregnancy bodies or will worry about their skills as a mother. Set her mind at ease by giving her compliments in various aspects. Let her know she was beautiful before and even more now after having the baby. Give her a pat on the back by telling her that she is doing great as a mother.
13. Buy her something new. She will most probably not fit into her old clothes after giving birth and maybe even weeks after. This can be a cause of distress for a lot of new moms. Cheer her up by buying her some new clothes she can fit into. Feel free to buy her other little non-baby stuff as well such as a new book, a small bottle of perfume, or other things that interest her.
14. Talk to her. A new mom will have to undergo some kind of ‘debriefing’ after delivery. This is a time when she will need to talk about what happened, the changes that are happening, and her life as a new mom. Indulge her and just let her talk about these things. Not only will you provide her an outlet for all her thoughts, it will also bring you closer together.
15. Set a salon appointment for her. A new mom will struggle to find the time to go to a salon for a much deserved pampering. She will be ecstatic if you can look after the baby or find someone to look after the baby while she goes to a salon for some freshening up.
16. Make her laugh. Some couples get into more serious and toned down moods once they have a baby. Feel free to lighten the mood by making her laugh. Humor will help the two of you find lots of ways of reconnecting with each other as new parents.
17. Be patient. Part of a new mom’s post-partum journey is the hormonal changes which translate to mood swings and baby blues. Bickering with her during her low points will not help. Instead, be patient and know that it is part of the post-pregnancy phase.
18. Be intimate with her without pressure or expectation of sex. Most couples will find less time for each other once the baby comes. Keep your bond and connection with your partner by not forgetting to be intimate with each other. Take note that intimacy goes beyond the physical and does not have to involve sex. Ease any pressure to have sex which she may not be ready for by letting her know that quiet talks and cuddling are more than enough.