I know there are a million things you have wanted to tell the father of your child while expecting and as a new mom. It can be frustrating that your male counterpart does not understand exactly what you are feeling. But how can he? He is not in your place; he did not feel those kicks and hiccups in the middle of the night. Nor did he have nightmares about a giant head coming out of him. However, we don't always take the time and step back to explain. So here is a post for all the new and expecting fathers. Since you make up most of my viewership feel free to share with your men if you think this will be of benefit to them (and you).
(Note: I use the terms wife, husband and marriage loosely, as these points are applicable to all new parents regardless of the type of relationship you are in.)
Dear Expecting and/or New Dads,
If you do take the time to read this, this post is not a list of everything you did not do. It is the oppposite, as you have become an amazing father already and I hope that every new mother is able to receive such support. I know I don't say it enough -- I love you. Thank you!)
|Most of my pictures are from an amazing maternity and baby shoot with Namita Azad Photography.|
Things Every New or Expecting Dad should know:
About your pregnant wife:
- Don't ignore the cravings, cater to them. They only get worse! Take it from someone who has driven around the Bronx looking for Taco Bell.
- Make time to be a part of those doctors appointments. It may not be important to you but your spouse needs to know she is not alone in this.
- Pregnancy can be overwhelming and isolating, specially when you don't feel well and don't think anyone else understands what you are going through. Try to remember to ask her how she is feeling.
- Just listen, you don't need to fix everything.
- She has probably never felt this exhausted ever before. Get into bed early with her and cuddle.
- Don't mess with the instinct to nest, or the nest. If she wants to do the baby's laundry and get things set up in advance, offer to help. Seeing it come together will help make your baby real for you too.
- Parenting is all about decisions and they start here! Give your opinion when asked for it, because you will want to be involved later and it may be too late. If you're being asked, it's because your opinion is valued too.
- You don't have to know the answers to all the questions she wants help answering, but look it up or ask someone who knows, because your opinion does matter too.
- Be involved in the shopping because when the baby is home, it will be too late to start (or like me, your wife may stock up for a few years beforehand). For more on where to start with this click here.
- Remember to give her complements as often as you can. She may feel beautiful but she may also be feeling really huge, swollen and scared that she will never get her body back.
- Attend lamaze and childbirth classes so you understand the process better and can be an informed decision maker when the time comes. Labor as an idea can be terrifying.
- If you don't get to attend a class though, it's important to know that the water usually doesn't break until just before the time to push and is not the first sign of labor. Nor will it only take a couple hours to be done (usually) with guests relaxing outside. That only happens in the movies!
- Her memory will continue to get worse (it does come back, at least most of it!) as the hormone levels increase so try and (gently) remind her of things you think she wants to do. (And stash post its around the house). Don't worry, her memory won't fade when it comes to keeping an eye on you (I know this didn't make my husband too happy!)
- If she is able to work until the day she delivers and wants to, let her. It's important to stay mentally occupied and active. She is already protective about her child and isn't try to hurt the baby by living her life to the extent that she can.
- Don't let her feel incompetent. If she is not able to work or do what she wants to, help her stay busy with projects and ideas.
- If you are stressing about labor (or sleeping on a couch in the hospital), can you imagine what she is going through?
- When your wife is in labor or stressing about it do not say that: It's easy, just breathe, even I can do it, we're in this together (maybe but not really and I know I definitely didn't want to hear it).
- If poop happens (in labor, it usually does), let it go and just try and pretend like it didn't.
- It will be your role to be her advocate in the hospital so understand what she wants it to be like. If things don't go as envisioned (and they usually do not), it will be your role to help her be more flexible too. You will need to be her advocate through motherhood too.
- Cut the cord! My husband had to be desensitized with you tube videos, and everyone thought he would faint at the blood, but he didn't and is so proud that he got to do this. Symbolically too, it's your role to do this as you are entering into the parenting relationship too.
About the new mother (who used to be your wife above all else), and your baby:
- A baby can bring a couple closer together, or further apart. If you're a great dad, your wife is just going to fall more in love with you. That's just one of the many reasons to step it up if you haven't already.
- Some moms fall in love with their baby at first site. Others take time to bond and get attached. Both are completely normal, for her and for you! Don't worry if you're not feeling it from day 1.
- Adjusting to new roles as a parent also includes some adjusting to your spouse as a parent, each of you will have your own parenting style and that's ok! Your child will also soon respond to you differently, and has different needs from you both.
- You get to be the fun, playful one, while she gets to be the one that feeds and is exhausted around the clock.
- While you used to be priority number 1, you may shift to number 2 (in priorities only not in affection), but that could just be because you won't scream or cry when you're ignored (you will probably take the space and go watch a sport).
- Labor is a marathon in every possible way, be her champion. I recently read somewhere that it's like having 22 bones broken at the same time in terms of how much the body has to recover (women, don't panic, you have everything at your disposal in a hospital to make sure that you don't feel anything like that).
- Your wife is going to be exhausted after, take charge and let her recover, sleep and bathe, while you ask the nurses to teach you how to do the diapers, and take care of your new baby.
- The first night home was the toughest. All she wants to do is sleep, and all your baby wants to do is eat (and poop). So help change the diapers and do everything else, so that she can be in bed and just feed when needed.
Hospital Diaper Duty
- That should really happen every night as her body needs to recover and rest, and even make milk (for your baby), if she is breast feeding.
- When you go back to work, or leave, make sure the house is stocked up with food for your wife that is easily accessible and ready to eat! It's not easy doing things with a squirmy baby in one arm. (Nursing burns 500 or so calories a day, she will be hungry).
- Tell her how far she has come and how much weight she has lost, not how much she has left to lose. It took 9 months to come on and it's normal to take that long to leave too. Plus, there are really not enough hours in the day to get to the gym regularly (or to have the energy to do so).
- When home from work, try and give her a break. She may not ask for it, but even if it's just to lie down it's going to help recharge her batteries.
- Your wife is irreplaceable to your child, but don't forget that you are too.
- While you are falling in love with your baby, don't forget to thank your wife for everything she has given up to get you both where you are, and to tell her you love her. (Women, make time to do the same even if it's just a simple text message).
- When your baby is ready to take a bottle, leave your child with someone you trust and go out. Spend some baby free time, even if its just a movie. (This is cliche but so important to keep your relationship fresh). Note: The baby free time includes baby talk and that's only because I'm sure the men have heard it all and are up to speed already.
- Be patient while her body recovers.
- If your baby sleeps in your room, don't leave the room and sleep elsewhere. I'm sure it's tempting and that you might be working all day, but that's your primary family unit now, and your wife needs you. And (hopefully) your baby won't be in there forever.
- If your baby sleeps in your bed, don't be offended if your baby is between the mom and a guard rail (that is safer than having the baby between you too, unfortunately way too many babies have been hurt that way). I'm sure you are careful and aware of where your child is, but do you really want to take the risk?
- Be cautious with your blanket and pillows too.
- Don't forget that she is also working all day, if she is staying at home, her rewards are not financial and her work is around the clock as there are no breaks. If she goes to work, she's coming home and is on the job there too.
- Seriously, don't mess the nest. (I've gotten up in the middle of the night to fix the drawer and I'm not that tidy. It's just something about moms and baby things). Though this isn't a way to get your wife out of bed either!
- Everyone asks how the baby is feeling, it's rare that people ask about the mom (post delivery). Your wife may not care when it's anyone else, but she will be upset if you forget about her too.
- Your mother-in-law can be your greatest asset. Welcome her as you will miss her (and the freedom you may get with her presence) when she is absent.
- Though if you leave your wife and child with her and disappear to party (particularly if the party is a long flight away), you are likely to never hear the end of it (ever!) Babies are unpredictable and you never know when a growth spurt or sleep regression can hit.
- While you may be fascinated with all her body can do, resist the temptation to tell a room full of guests (or your male siblings), that milk starts flowing whenever the baby cries. She will be embarrassed and you will be in trouble!
- Smile for the camera, whether you have shaved or not. Those are memories you will all cherish someday.
Moms, step back and let the dads jump in. Show them how to do things without being critical, or let them figure it out on their own if they do not want the help. You will see that isn't just one way that works. (I know this is hard but it's worth it and important for your family).
Feel free to reach out if there's anything I can elaborate on.
More to come!
PS - I had to do two versions of this as my blogger didn't save, so if I missed anything/ have redundancies, feel free to let me know.