Adjusting to fatherhood
By Peach Tree Perinatal Wellness
Becoming a father can be one of the most life changing experiences in a man’s life. Changes to the relationship with your partner, balancing work and family life, and learning to care for a newborn can be challenging.
Most dads will feel stressed at times as they navigate sleepless nights and major changes in relationships and routines. For some men the reality of fatherhood can be overwhelming. Just like mums, dads can also become distressed. Recent research reports 1 in 10 new dads will experience depression during pregnancy or the postnatal year.
Looking after yourself, your relationship and your baby are an important part of making a healthy transition to fatherhood. So what are the common concerns new dads experience, and how can dads help themselves and their family manage the first 12 months?
From my own research, the 3 most common concerns of new dads’ are:
‘Work and financial commitments concern me more now I have a family’
Feeling the extra pressure as the family’s primary provider is quite normal, particularly when work arrangements offer little flexibility. In fact, 4 out of 5 of the dads in my study report financial pressure and supporting the family as a main source of stress. Talking to your partner and employer about how to negotiate balance, especially in the early weeks can reduce expectations and pressure on you and help you to feel more relaxed.
Balancing work and family commitments can also be stressful for new dads. Over half of the dads in the study felt they didn’t spend enough time with their baby. This can be a tricky balance but the focus should be on the quality, not the quantity, of time spent with your new baby.
I am unsatisfied with the frequency of sexual activity in our relationship’
At first the excitement of a new baby can strengthen a couple’s emotional connection. But as sleepless nights and the reality of parenting kicks in a couple’s intimate relationship can suffer. Childbirth and motherhood is a big change for your partner too! Getting your sexual relationship back on track may take some time. In the meantime, there are other ways to connect intimately with your partner. Show your affection through touch and communication. Kissing, cuddling and compliments are all great ways to let your partner know how you feel about her.
Helping around the house and with the baby is another great way to help your relationship. Giving your partner time-out can help provide a better environment for intimacy.
‘I don't understand what is wrong with my baby when he/she cries’
Understanding what your baby needs is a big concern for new dads. Like any new job the best way to gain skills and confidence is hands-on experience! So make the time to take the parenting reins. Bathing, settling, reading, changing nappies and playing are all great opportunities for dads to bond with their new baby. Smiling, singing and chatting with your baby will teach them important emotional and social skills well before they can comprehend a single word. One-on-one ‘daddy’ time can help build a strong father-infant connection and give mum a well-deserved break.
Note: The views and advice expressed on this blog post are those of the author and are not representative of the Pregnancy Babies & Children's Expo.