Great tips to help your family welcome a new baby into the family.
When a new baby arrives home, the household’s general routine is usually disrupted, especially in those early days, until everybody finds their feet. Both parents have a new set of priorities and need to adapt to a new rhythm, often determined by their newest family member.
In many cases, it’s the new mom who mainly looks after the baby, especially if she’s nursing; in any case, both mother and father have a critical role to play in this new arrangement. In fact, the new father can help and support his wife in many ways, while completely throwing himself into his role as daddy. He can be a significant pillar of strength, contributing to the household’s smooth running during those first few months back home, giving the whole family the opportunity to cherish this long-awaited new arrival.
Here are some ways a husband can be a great partner to his wife in those early days …
One of the first things that will hugely relieve any new mom is to take over looking after the baby from time to time: before and after work, and throughout the weekend whenever possible. Even 20 minutes can be a great help. You can give a bottle, change a diaper, keep an eye on the newborn as they sleep, or go for a walk around the block. There are so many little things that can be done in this time, leaving mom some freedom to do something else, look after herself, take a shower, or even eat in peace. And these precious moments will be the perfect opportunity to bond with the baby.
Do some household chores
After a delivery, and especially if she’s had a cesarean section or difficult birthing experience, a new mom needs rest and recovery. Looking after the baby takes up a huge amount of energy, and the mother’s body needs time to heal and adjust.
Do any household chores that she usually takes on herself. Maybe it’s prepping lunch for the next day, or folding the laundry — even tidying up. Any extra help will be hugely appreciated.
Look after the other kids
Maybe you could juggle your work hours to try and drop off and/or pick up kids from their different daycare facilities, school, and/or other activities? One of the hardest things for any new mom is to get ready, get the newborn ready (who might need feeding at the same time), while getting the older kids out the door for a certain time. If the dad can get those packed lunches ready and sorted and help with the homework, that’s another huge plus, especially in the early days, allowing mom to focus on the baby. In fact, mom and baby need a lot of time together during those first weeks, getting to understand the baby’s needs and personality. As time goes by, this will get easier, and mom can spend more time devoted to her older children while dad can look after the baby.
Take care of your wife
With all the buzz and activity surrounding the newborn it’s often easy to forget oneself and one’s spouse. Yet, the essence of a relationship, especially of married life, is to take care of each other. This period is probably a moment where the new mom is concentrating so much on the baby that she forgets to think of herself. It’s therefore highly appreciated if her spouse pays specific attention to her.
A sweet little word, a relaxing moment together, a romantic dinner, preparing her a warm bath, buying a book or a film that you know she’s been wanting for a while … There are so many little things that can warm her heart. Yet, it’s also simple things like lending her an attentive ear that are equally important. In fact, a new mom, whether it be her first child or not, always has a lot of doubts and fears, due to fatigue and various preoccupations. So she’ll get a lot of comfort in being able to talk through her feelings, while listening at the same time to the new dad.
Help your wife feel good
After watching her body blossom over nine months, it’s often difficult for a new mom to adapt to her new post-baby body. Take the opportunity to remind her how beautiful you find her, or how much you love it when she wears a certain dress or when she wears her hair in a particular style. It’s a great way to give her a boost when she might be feeling a little low, unable to recognize this new body that has gone through substantial changes. It’s given life, and as a result will have changed forever. She is now foremost a mother, looking after her baby. Helping her continue to feel like a woman is important for her physical and psychological well-being, in which you, as her husband, can play a key role.
Get interested and get informed
Many new dads want to help their spouse but end up feeling a little lost, not knowing what to do or say, often feeling that they’ll end up getting it wrong. It’s for this reason that it is important for the father to also get informed about the different help available; to participate if possible in the pre-natal courses offered in the hospitals; to learn, with his spouse, how to care for the baby in the maternity, whenever possible. But perhaps most importantly, even if it’s not obvious, is to just take the plunge!
In the beginning a new dad can be intimidated by the tiny size of their baby, and therefore worry about looking after them. It’s important not to hesitate, try and join in with mom, and over time your confidence will grow and your fears subside. Once you’ve got used to your role as father you will feel more at ease, and better able to support your wife.
Take some time
Although paid paternity leave is a rarity, try and save some vacation time to take when the baby is born. If you are able to save some money before the birth – we know, no easy feat with all the costs a baby brings – you could try and take a few weeks of unpaid paternity leave. Failing that, try and return home from work a little earlier in the first few weeks, and devote your weekends to your spouse and baby. Friends and family can take a back seat for your new family to adjust and bond together. Now sit back and enjoy your new role of super dad, and husband!
Note to moms-to-be or new moms: Feel free to share this article with your husband, or just casually leave it open on your screen for him to see (if you can do that without coming off as passive-agressive)! And remember, above all, if you find that things getting difficult, ask your husband for help. Sometimes we don’t always see the needs of those closest to us.
The Fight for Fatherhood