Letter to New Dads from an Experienced Nurse and Lactation Consultant
Dear New Dad,
There’s nothing worse than feeling helpless with your brand new baby – as you know – pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding are all centered around Mom.
As much as you’d like, you can’t pull an Arnold Schwarzenegger (remember that old movie where he gets pregnant?!) but I’m here to tell you there’s plenty you CAN do. Try these 7 ideas right away to create a peaceful and happy home for your sweet new family:
- PROTECT YOUR WIFE FROM THE ONSLAUGHT OF ADVICE.
You’ll find friends, family and neighbors who LOVE to give advice (some good, a lot bad). Protect her from others’ opinions about what’s right and wrong. Instead, have her focus on advice from professionals and people that you trust.
- TAKE OWNERSHIP OF TASKS.
Moms will want to do everything – that’s how they are programmed. Your job could be to protect her from herself. You can become the expert in some non-feeding tasks. Bath time can be a daddy-baby bonding time, diaper changes can be silly song time, and Dads are the best baby swaddlers. You could even take over the clothes changes when blow out diapers or throw up ruins their adorable outfit. The more involved you can be, the more mom will feel relieved that she’s not in charge of everything!
- BE THE DISH DOG.
Sweep the kitchen and family room a few times per day — clean up what your wife would normally clean. Throw a load of laundry in the washer and/or fold some clothes. Think about how happy she’ll feel to walk into a clean kitchen/room that she didn’t have to clean herself. Can you say “HERO?” All her friends will be so jealous!
- BE HER CHEERLEADER.
It’s not easy being a new mom (or new dad!) Healing from childbirth takes a lot of energy and so does learning to breastfeed (which is not a walk in the park) all while living on little sleep. And did I mention hormones?? You can help by keeping the narrative positive, even when she isn’t positive. Some options that’ll make your wife feel like a million dollars:
- “You’re doing an amazing job!”
- “I’m so impressed with how hard you’re working at this!”
- “You’re giving our baby such an amazing gift.”
- GIVE HER A MASSAGE.
Ask first (of course!) and then rub her feet or back. A 10-minute rub may relax her and make her feel more normal and more desirable when she’s probably feeling pretty icky with her post-pregnancy body.
- LET HER SLEEP.
Tell Mom that as soon as the baby is done the feeding, you’ll take over: you can change, clothe, swaddle and get baby back to sleep so she can close her eyes and start snoozing. A few more minutes of sleep can really make a big difference when it seems like baby is nursing ALL DAY and ALL NIGHT long.
- BE SWEET TO HER.
This is a no-brainer, which you’ve already thought of, but besides some words of affirmation give her some kisses and cuddles to make her feel safe and loved.
Time after time I see the same story. The moms who get support while breastfeeding actually nurse their baby for longer (which is super healthy for baby, mom and the family).
I applaud you for wanting to be involved and helpful. Don’t forget, one day this baby will be a teenager and the relationship that you’ve built with him/her will pay off when you have to teach them to drive!
Cheering you on,
Maureen Mills, RN, IBCLC
Certified Lactation Consultant for Moms…and Dads!
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