The first week after a baby is born is often referred to as ‘Hell Week’. You don’t know how often your baby will be crying, feeding, sleeping or requiring that all important clean diaper. Mommy is still possibly in loads of pain, especially if she had a caesarean, so it is important that daddy lends a hand.
The problem with this is of course that daddy’s are ignored for the most part during the pregnancy. Almost every blog or group dedicated to babies are centred on what mommy is feeling, how mommy can cope with the new baby and which resources mommy can use to assist with a new baby. A great example of this is a new mommy group that my fiancée belongs to. No men are invited to this group as they, “don’t know what it is like to raise a child”. This leads to daddy being unprepared for those ever important first week and possibly for a long time after that.
Support from family and friends will also mostly focus on how to assist mommy and although I agree that mommy and baby are the two most important people from birth onwards, I feel that daddy’s should have more support as well. Daddies are under appreciated.
Here are 3 easy to remember tips focused on what daddy can do the first few weeks to help both mommy and baby.
Change as many diapers as possible:
This may seem like a trivial point, but it is greatly important ion various levels. It gives mommy a break from changing which will improve her mood and frustration levels. This will in turn lead to a better and less stressful relationship between mommy and daddy.
This is peak bonding time for daddy and baby. Make sure to make as much eye contact with baby as possible and explain each step of the process as you change their diaper. Baby will only recognise your face from about 4 weeks onwards but they can already recognise your voice.
Feed baby when you can:
Feeding baby is also a wonderful means of bonding with baby. This is made a lot more difficult when mommy is breastfeeding, but daddy can still be involved by burping baby. Skin contact is very important during this bonding time, so try and burp baby being shirtless but remember to have a cloth in between where her face might make contact with your skin.
If you are at home after work and it is time for a feeding always volunteer to do the feeding and give mommy a rest. If baby is not sleeping through yet, this takes a while, daddy should give the feeding closest to bed time. If you usually go to bed at 23:00 and her feeding time is 23:30 let mommy go to bed if possible and do the feeding on your own. Mommy can then do the next feeding during the night and allow daddy to be well rested for work.
Break the stigma:
The reason the stigma exists that men should not wash dishes, clothes, clean the kitchen, etc. is that men do not want to perform these tasks historically reserved for the women of the house. Newsflash!! Women also do not want to perform these tasks.
Break the stigma. Washing dishes and giving the kitchen a scrub is a great way of giving mommy a rest. Mommy being rested leads to her being more relaxed, which means the baby is more relaxed. This leads to a less fussy baby that is easier for you as a daddy to bond with. Help yourself by helping mommy which in turn helps baby.
Help with washing some of baby’s clothes. Nothing is more frustrating than changing baby and not finding anything that fits and is clean. Washing baby’s clothes can help daddy feel that he contributes to more than just a salary.
Bonding with my baby and feeling that you contribute more than just a salary are two main things will keep you going through that first “Hell week”. You feel a sense that you are also part of your baby’s life and making meaningful contributions to their wellbeing.