With all the self-help articles and how-to guides out there for mom, letting her know what to expect, what to buy and what to do, we don’t see many instructions out there for dads. This begs the question of, are they just supposed to wing it? Whether you’re a new dad or a dad-to-be, here’s how you can help out the mother of your child and earn yourself lots of brownie points. You will also be getting to bond with your new baby and strengthen your relationship with your other half.
The most important things, of course, go without saying. The mother of your child has just spent the last nine uncomfortable months carrying another human being inside her, then spent hours in labor, only to now likely struggle with getting everything done around the houseKeep in mind that this is on top of her new challenges like getting a handle on breastfeeding and questioning everything she ever knew about motherhood. There is a lot of pressure on new moms to do everything, master everything the first time, and be the perfect mother all at once. Sometimes that’s just impossible, and they’ll often need extra support from their family and friends and, most importantly, their other half. She will need their support with tasks, comforting her, and reassuring her that she’s doing a great job.
New mothers will spend the first few months with the new baby waking up countless times throughout the night and will likely be very, very tired. It would be the best help for a dad to share this burden and help mom get some more sleep, even if it’s just a nap. Rest is essential for every new mom, especially if they’re breastfeeding, as lack of sleep can affect milk production and quality. Getting enough rest, meaning at least 7 hours of sleep, will ensure the baby gets the best milk and stays well fed. This may be easier said than done, but that’s where dad can step in. With dad taking the night feeds using bottled pre-pumped milk, mom will have a better chance at a good night's sleep, and the baby will be getting the best milk possible... Changing diapers, burping, and bathing baby can also be a great way to help mom get a little time to herself to do other things, and is a great opportunity for bonding.
[Read more: Childbirth from a Dad's Perspective]
With lack of sleep also comes a lack of time to do much else. Babies need feeding every 2-3 hours, sometimes even more frequently. This doesn’t leave mom much time to feed or bathe herself, let alone tackle the housework! Making sure mom is comfortable when breastfeeding, ensuring her arms are supported and she’s sitting or lying comfortably is essential. Babies do get quite heavy, you know! Making mom a snack while she’s breastfeeding to keep up her strength is a simple gesture, or you could take a walk with the baby to give her some alone time for taking care of her.. Helping with the household chores, and ensuring it is baby safe at the same time, can take a lot of stress off of mom’s shoulders, and she’ll have a better disposition with continued support. . Just because she may be on maternity leave does not mean she has all the time in the world to get everything done. Get in touch with family and friends who are willing to help when you’re not around. It will be good for moms to socialize with other adults and will relieve her of being the only supervision once your paternity leave ends.. It is good to surround yourself and partner with a strong support system since you both will be waking up throughout the night and will both need a break after a while.
Looking after a newborn can also be quite isolating. Staying at home all day with a baby attached to her 24/7 restricts a mom’s ability to leave the house. Relatives and friends may pop in and help out but it’s important that mom is also able to leave the house and spend time with new people. Making new mommy friends, attending classes and group outings, and taking the baby out exploring in the fresh air is going to be really beneficial for mom and for baby. Encouraging new moms to join postnatal and baby groups enable them to meet new people, aids the development of your baby by introducing them to other babies, and makes them feel more social and less alone. There are many kinds of classes out there such as baby yoga, little swimmers, playtime groups and meet-ups. The options are endless so don’t feel like you are forced to join a group that doesn’t really suit you. Why not do the research and find a group for her, it will be one less thing she has to do, and will show her that you care enough to get her involved.
There are loads of ways in which dads can help a new mom, even if they’re just little things here and there. The most important thing is to make sure they feel supported, loved and that you’re there for her when she needs help, even if she doesn’t ask for it. Parenthood is a lifetime of trials, but it goes much more smoothly when both you and your partner are happy. Good luck!
[Read more: Dads Get PND Too]