So, when the baby comes home there’s a lot of focus on baby and mum and how well they’re doing. And rightly so! But for dads and partners, it takes time and patience to establish and figure out how best to support the mother and how to work together as a new family unit.
Here’s what the experts want you to know…
1. 3 things partners should do every day
I hear from so many dads how useless they feel in this postpartum period. They don’t have boobs to feed the baby with and they’re not intertwined in that mother-connection in those early days.
But there is so much that you can do because you’re essentially your partner’s cheerleader, coach and manager behind the scenes. So, what I want you to do is make sure that you are really supporting her.
A simple little thing you can do is fill up 2 drink bottles at the beginning of the day, which is going to help keep her hydrated. It will also prevent her from becoming constipated, which is going to do wonders for her pelvic floor.
You can also make sure that you schedule a little bit of time for her self-care. Whether that’s encouraging her to go to the hairdresser or for a walk each week on her own, it’s so important and will do wonders for her recovery and mental health – and for your relationship.
The other thing I want you to do is to remember to actually give your partner a little compliment daily. She’s going to feel different in her body, and the more she hears from you how amazing you think she is, the better she will ultimately feel.
2. Don’t forget to focus on your own mental health too
The role of dads has changed really significantly in the last few generations, and particularly since 2020 and COVID. We’ve got so many more dads working more flexibly, and they’re on the ground doing it really differently.
I think this is really exciting. It’s an opportunity to have a whole new generation of children that are much more connected with their fathers. I think that connection right from the beginning will make a really big difference to the relationship going forward.
But I also think what we need to focus on is mental health for dads and partners – and providing them with some support. I tell the dads that I work with: if you can find just one good mate in the first year that you can connect with and talk to about the birth, about the realities of becoming a dad, about the good, about the bad and about the whole story, I think that can be an absolute lifesaver for you.
3. Know what to do in an emergency
Partners, I have a question for you: Would you know what to do if your new baby fell off the change table? Would you calmly and confidently know the first aid and be able to look for the signs and symptoms that you need to? Or would you panic?
It is of utmost importance that you know how to help your child in an emergency. Make it a priority to enrol in a baby and child first aid course. You will learn everything from CPR to what to do, for bumps and bruises and for choking and everything in between. You will never regret the 3 hours that you spend learning how to help your child in an emergency.
4. Roll up your sleeves and help out!
My best advice to any partners is to support the mum in looking after herself. They may not always be in the right frame of mind, they may be too exhausted to really give themselves the self-care and nutrition that they need.
So, don’t wait, don’t be shy, get in the kitchen, roll up your sleeves – you don’t have to be a gourmet chef – just focus on simple recipes. I can tell you that whatever you make for your partner is going to be well-received, and it will also ensure that they’ve got the energy they need to continue to look after your precious little baby.
5. Build your own routines and rituals
Dads are so important, and so my message to you, dad, is that you are vital and important in the house. Not only are you noticing if mum needs food and needs to be taken care of, but you’re also there to support your baby and to give them connection and love. These are the needs that mum potentially can’t give during the first few months of their life.
It’s really important as a dad to be able to build your own routine and rituals to help take care of and connect with your child. Whether that’s doing one feed a night with a bottle or doing tummy time or the bath. You are really important in supporting your child, and also your partner. So, step into that role and be confident because you are needed.
6. The most important thing is to communicate with each other
Our relationships are changing in those early weeks of bringing the baby home. Lots of partners have to go back to work and might be taking on the pressure of being the sole income earner.
So it’s those quiet times that you have with your partner, and with your baby, that allows you to develop a pattern of being a family.
The most important thing is to communicate to each other how you’re feeling and how it looks for you. And I’m sure that with communication, before long, you’re going to feel like a beautiful family of 3 (or 4 or 5 or 6).