It is an incredible thing to welcome a child.
It is an incredible gift to be a father, but it isn't always easy. The mother may be full of emotions and everyone is exhausted. Here are some tips to help you and encourage your partner during the postpartum period.
1. Be patient - There is a huge adjustment period for both of you and it can be draining and tough on both the first few weeks. Be patient with mom and also with baby as they are adjusting to something new. Be patient with yourself too. You are also figuring this father thing out now too.
2. Help Take Care of Baby - Even if the mother is breastfeeding a father can participate in many ways by changing diapers, swaddling, holding baby, doing skin to skin, dressing the baby, giving the baby a bath or helping the baby be put to sleep. Often fathers feel they are not involved but it helps to get comfortable with some of these activities of daily living for baby so you can become confident in doing them.
3. Talk with her about your feelings - This can be easy or down right hard, but it is important that your partner know how you are really feeling and talk about it with her. What is easy for you, or what is hard for you? How are you feeling about the baby? If you or your partner are feeling depressed find professional help. Dad can struggle with postpartum depression too.
4. Take care of yourself - Yes you must help with taking care of the mom but you also have to take care of yourself. Eat well and exercise and find some time to get out for a walk or just for a short time with a friend(s). Sleeping when baby sleep can help and taking shifts at night with the mother can help each of you get a better stretch of sleep so you feel rested. When a mother and father can each get a 4-5 hour stretch that usually allows for a full REM cycle of sleep.
5. Wait.....for lovemaking - Wait at least six weeks to make love with your partner. Sometimes it needs to be longer or sometimes it is shorter. Talk to her about when you are ready to see when she is comfortable to do so.
6. Find help for work return - Going back to work after just a week or two. Mothers often still need a lot of support and if family and friends can't help out, hire a postpartum doula for mother and baby. A mother will still need help with rest and sleep during the day and small household chores and meal prep. A postpartum doula will also be there to continue encouraging her and supporting her through her parenting decisions and instilling strength as she figures things out and finds her rhythm. Also, find someone you feel comfortable sharing your emotions with about going back to work. Fathers often find it much easier when they know the mother has help at home.
There will be ups, and downs, laughs and cries when you welcome a child for the first or the ninth time. Each child brings a new adjustment and transition. Northern Virginia Birth Services is here to help you. Here are some quick Do's and Dont's!