What About Dad?

Your new baby has arrived!  Congratulations!  Everyone wants to see the baby, hold the baby, kiss the baby, snuggle with the baby, have the baby sleep on them and smell the baby...especially the baby's mommy.  This woman has carried a little baby in her belly for 9 long months and FINALLY she gets to hold him, kiss him, snuggle him, feed him and smell him.  Her mother instincts have kicked in right away, including the instinct to protect her baby.  At times, mom may seem like she doesn't want to have others hold the baby or even help her with things.  This can leave dad feeling left out and to put it honestly...he can feel unwanted.

This post will help you understand dad's perspective and how the mother of the baby and other family members can be attentive to dad during the newborn stage of your baby.

Start by giving dad the job of photographer!  Have him take the first pictures of the baby right after he is born!  Baby D was born C-Section, so Dear Husband got to go to the nursery with Baby D for the second round of APGAR tests and other tests.  Dear Husband got to be the first person, besides the doctor and a few nurses, to spend Baby D's first few minutes "outside the womb life" with.

     Let Dad Create a Daddy and Baby Bond!

·   When baby is born, his instinct is to sniff out where mom is; he knows mom's smell within minutes after being born.  He knows the sound of your voice, he knows your touch and he knows your smell.  If you are breastfeeding, then there is an even stronger bond between mom and baby.  So, how can dad create a bond with the baby if mom already has a bond?  Very easily!  

While you are recovering:
Let dad change the diapers
Let dad hand you the baby when it's time to feed the baby
Let dad swaddle the baby (Dear Husband was a master swaddler!)
Let dad give baby the pacifier
Create an even deeper bond between dad and baby with skin-to-skin contact:

Undress baby down to a diaper and have Dear Husband take his shirt off.  Have Dear Husband hold the baby so that baby's chest is touching his chest, then put a blanket over baby and daddy.  Have daddy hum, sing or just talk to mommy while the two are bonding.  Within about a week, the baby will know the sound and vibrations of daddy's voice.  Do skin-skin contact with dad 15 minutes a day.

      Let Dad Help!

·    I strongly believe that all new mothers think they are invincible and can do everything on their own.  Actually, I have no doubt that they are fully capable of doing everything on their own.  However, you don’t need to go into survival mode if you have dad around who can help.  Yes, he won’t clean the kitchen like you do and won’t put away the dishes correctly, but it will really help you relax and recover better if you LET him help.  He IS fully capable of doing housework, laundry, dishes and all the other 50 million things mom does…all you have to do is LET him help.  Yes, he may not be bonding with the baby and you by doing laundry, but he is feeling like he is a part of things by helping.  A month before I had Baby D, I typed up, printed out and posted a schedule that I typically follow during the week and on the weekends and stuck it to the fridge. That way, anyone that came by and asked if I needed help with anything I would refer them to the fridge.  If it was Monday at 5pm, they would know that I need help by taking the dog for a walk.  Sounds simple and it worked so well!  As a side note, Dear Husband will see exactly how much you really do around the house to keep things running and will gladly pitch in :)

Let Dad Snuggle!

      • As a new mom, you have heard, "Sleep when the baby sleeps".  So that leaves you with all your time spent with the baby and then sleeping. No wonder dad feels left out.  There are going to be times when you can't sleep and just need to lay there an relax.  This is the perfect time to put baby in his Rock 'n Play sleeper and have dad come in and snuggle with you.  Dad misses your touch, snuggles and affection.  Even if you don't feel sexy, he thinks you are sexy! Especially if your milk has come in *Wink*.  Ask him to just rub your back, arms or legs.  You will be surprised how much closer that brings you two together.  Dad's like to nap too, so chances are he will lay down with you and snooze until it's time to feed or change the baby.

    Let Dad Know!

      • Men cannot read minds.  You need to keep open communication with dad and tell him what you need and what you want.  If you are hungry and need a second sandwich after just scarfing down 2....let him know!  If you feel overwhelmed with everything, then let him know!  If you need to take a breather and take a bath or shower, then let him know.  I see it far too often, even with veteran moms, who get all huffy and puffy over something little that their Dear Husband did or didn't do unintentionally.  Right now, you both need each other in so many ways that it is so important to let him know how and what you are feeling at the very moment.  You will be AMAZED how calm and attentive he will be to your needs, especially after seeing his baby girl or baby boy being born and seeing you go through the entire event.  He loves you.  You two created a life together.  Just, let him know your thoughts out loud, so that he can help you to the fullest capacity that he can! 

    Let Dad Play Games/Golf/Paint/Run

      • You have prepared yourself and adjusted your lifestyle 9 months ago (maybe even longer!) knowing that everything was going to change once the baby was born.  Dear Husband on the other hand has made a few adjustments in preparation of the baby, but had NO idea that every aspect of your life HAD to be adjusted.  He sees that now and he is having a hard time or feels guilty asking you if it's OK to go play a round of golf or resume a video game that he has now had on pause for 8 days.  If he is smart and did his research, or you told him, he knows that there are hormones raging through your body right now and if he says the wrong thing...you could lose it.  Right now, you are completely infatuated with your baby that you could care less what Dear Husband does with his free time.  If this is the case, let him go play a round of golf, or finish the rest of his game.  If you do care and don't want him to leave, then refer to Let Dad Know.
      • Dad's need to take a breather too.  Remember, he can feel overwhelmed too.  Not just with the baby, but with becoming a dad and maintaining his relationship with you.  Men get overwhelmed more quickly than women, I think.  This is where you can really be there for him.  After Baby D was about a month old and Dear Husband and I found a rhythm to everything, I felt comfortable enough letting him go play games or a round of golf.  It's funny, because I always thought that he needed a break from the baby and me, but when I would hear him playing games on XBOX Live all he talked about was the baby and me!  Same thing with playing golf.  He'd come back in a great mood and talk about how he just talked about the baby and me. It was nice to hear how much he appreciated me and was telling his friends that, "She just knows exactly what to do!".  So, let dad play for a while!
    Let Dad Sleep!
      •  I would rather have one adult in the house sleep deprived than two sleep deprived adults.  "We become tall 2 year-olds when we don't get enough sleep".  Dear Husband had to return to work 3 weeks after Baby D was born.  Some dads only get 2 days of paternity leave.  Other dads don't get ANY time off unless they take it off.  For the sake of my Dear Husband I kicked him out of the bedroom.  Yep!  You read that correctly.  You might disagree with me and fight back with, "That's gonna ruin your relationship".  But it didn't.  If anything it made us stronger.  Here's how:  
      • After we got comfortable and found a rhythm to our new lifestyle (which took about 2 weeks), Dear Husband slept in the guest room for about a month.  It was one of the best decisions we made.  Why?  Because he was able to get a full night's sleep, go to work completely functioning and maintaining what was expected of him at his job, come home and still have energy to help me with the baby.  It was a good decision, because by the 3rd week Baby D hit a growth spurt and went on a feeding frenzy and breastfed every hour on the hour for a few days.  Could be the hormones or your mommy instinct, but something courses through your body to keep you awake and functioning during those sleepless nights.  Dear Husband would feel guilty about getting a solid 8-9 hours of sleep and ask me, "How are you doing this?  How are you still able to functionally care for the baby AND take care of yourself on no sleep?".  And my answer every time was, "I have no idea".  When Baby D started sleeping through the night is when Dear Husband came back in the room.  I still let him sleep when the baby would wake up and eat, but Dear Husband always wanted me to wake him up when the baby needed a diaper change :)  

    Let Dad Tell You to Rest!

      • Your nesting phase is still active and it's only been a few weeks after the birth of your baby.  You SHOULD be practicing healthy recovery habits, but you are in the kitchen cleaning the dishes from last night's dinner that the neighbors brought over and putting a load of laundry into the dryer from earlier this morning when the baby was sleeping.  Then you spot a tumble weed made out of dog hair that is rolling across the living room floor.  As you close the dryer door you already have your hand on the handle of the push broom to get that tumble weed OUT of your house. Dear Husband walks into the living room and grabs the push broom from your hand and says, "Aren't you supposed to be sleeping since the baby is sleeping?  Why don't you go lay down?".  You snatch the broom back from him, "I just have to sweep this floor and when the laundry is done drying, fold it and then put the clean dishes away".  Dear Husband doesn't want to argue with you, because of the hormones raging through your body and for the headstrong reasons you just listed off.  However, THIS would be the time to stop and just go relax.  Refer to Let Dad Help!  If Dear Husband is telling you to go lay down and relax, then just do it.  Chances are you need to, if he is telling you too.  Ask him kindly to finish the tasks that you have started.  Or if friends or family come over and ask if they can help with anything, tell them what needs done.  Trust me, they will do anything just to get a quick sniff and a snuggle from your little baby :)

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