So, you’ve done it. Not only have you created a child (some feat in itself) but you’ve also ushered your loved one through pregnancy in nothing short of majestic fashion.
The hero bit
You became a well-accomplished masseuse, a lifter of all things heavy and the most willing chauffeur in the world – essentially, you were in it together every step of the way. For nine whole months, you were the king. Ok, more like butler – but you felt like the king.
If you were the one that drove her to the hospital when the labour finally started, chances are you felt like a true action hero. It may have been three in the morning, but completing your mission in the driving seat, you were more awake than ever before.
The zero bit
During the birth, however, you quickly realise that you’re no longer in charge of the situation. Not only is it hard to see your partner in distress (ok, distress might be a little bit of an understatement here), you may struggle with going from the feeling of being a hero to feeling like you’re just… getting in the way.
For the first few weeks, even months, it’s certainly not unusual to feel a little redundant at times. Midwives ignore you (and rightly so – their focus is on mother and baby, after all), but even your own mother may use you as a vehicle to see her new grandchild as much as possible. No more mummy’s boy, that’s for sure; there’s a new favourite in town.
Tell me how to help!
We’re not built for breastfeeding, and our ability to help is limited, but there are plenty of ways to show support and get involved, even if stepping into our new role doesn’t come naturally. Practical support is essential (everything from cooking and running errands to burping and changing nappies – more on that later). But, just as importantly, is emotional and moral support. Don’t forget to remind your partner how amazing they are and what a great job they’re doing every day. Support their decisions – and let them be tired and grumpy at times without taking it personally.
Relinquishing control is one of the hardest things – it’s natural instinct to want to take charge of situations, but sometimes you need to take a step back and let go.
One of the best things you can do is actively set aside bonding time. Bonding with your newborn is good for everyone: you, your baby and your other half, so dive in headfirst with the bonding and you’ll never regret it.
Talk to them. Sing to them. Carry them around in a sling wherever you go (even when you’re doing the hoovering). But, most importantly, change nappies. Nothing can bring you closer to your baby than watching them gurgle away as you change the next stink bomb of a nappy. Plus, as you become more of a dab hand, the changing mat will soon resemble a Formula One pit stop. Yes, it’s all about efficiency, speed and perfect execution here.
The dos and don’ts
They say that baby steps lead to great things (you may disagree with this statement when your little one finally starts walking). But when it comes to wondering what to say or do and avoid being shouted at, the little things really can make a big difference. Check out this handy reference table and before long, you’ll be back to being the hero – as well as having newfound superdad status.
|Bad idea||Good idea|
|✘ Refer to looking after your child as “babysitting”||✔ Take the baby out for a walk – even if you’re not going anywhere|
|✘ Ask “What’s for dinner?”||✔ If making dinner is too time-consuming, pick up something quick and healthy on the way home|
|✘ Go on about how hard you day’s been at work||✔ Understand that although she’s sitting on the sofa in her pyjamas when you arrive home, she’s had a tough day too|
|✘ Assume your partner is always feeling like a superwoman||✔ Help her emotionally. She was a trooper throughout the pregnancy and birth, but even the toughest new mum needs a lot of support|
|✘ Always relying on mothers’ intuition||✔ Dads can follow their instincts too - no one knows your baby as well as you and your partner|