Top Ten Tips for New Dads and Non-Birthing Parents
As the non-birthing person and non-breastfeeding parent, it can be challenging to know how to care for both the birthing person and your new baby. Below are the top ten tips for new dads and parents that can be used starting on day one.
1. Be present
This one is especially important because the first few weeks (and sometimes months) of having a newborn home can be very isolating. Your sleep schedule is off from the rest of the world, showering is not always the highest priority on your list, and it can be hard to pack up everything a newborn needs to get out of the house. Sitting on your phone, or even sleeping, while the other parent is up caring for, feeding, and changing your baby can cause resentment in your partnership. Wake up for feedings, put your phone down when you notice your partner isn't on her or his phone, and spend as much time at home with your little family as your life allows.
2. Offer to help
While there may be no way for you to breastfeed all night, you can change diapers, make sure your partner has a snack and water bottle ready and feels supported throughout the parenthood journey. Just the act of asking to help can mean so much because it shows you are just as involved in the process.
3. Don’t be offended when your help isn't accepted
Sometimes helping just isn't possible. Don’t get upset when your partner doesn’t accept your help, and don’t stop offering just because your offers are not being accepted. There are times when another person may make it harder to feed the baby, or may be a distraction if the baby needs to fall asleep.
4. Enjoy the journey
Being a new parent is SO stressful, but it is also fun! Make sure to lighten the mood when you can, see the humor in the process, and remind your partner you both are more than a milk machine and diaper robots.
5. Take out the diaper trash or wash the cloth diapers without being asked to
No one wants this job, partly because it dirty and partly because it might require pants to go out to the trash can. But it sure does feel good to have it done by someone else! Plus, freshly folded cloth diapers will put a smile on any new parent’s face.
6. Take pictures
Document breastfeeding sessions, bath time, and even diaper blow outs because these are the moments that matter. Having a new baby is an amazing experience, and so often we don’t have the real life photos of Mom being covered in spit up, or Dad having baby poop on his pants. Plus think of the fun you can have when your baby is getting ready to have bring a date over for the first time or preparing to welcome a baby to hers or his family.
7. Recognize what doesn't seem normal
You may have never had a newborn in your home, but you do know your partner. Recognizing early signs of postpartum depression and/or postpartum anxiety is the best way to provide the appropriate mental health help. Your spouse may be too involved in caring for the baby to take a step back for some self-care, but you can notice when something feels off and get the appropriate help. More resources for Postpartum Mood Disorders can be found here.
8. Take care of yourself
Just because you did not give birth, does not mean you don’t deserve some self-care. While getting a full 8 hours of sleep might be out of the question (unless you are interested in some postpartum doula support), remember what you like to do for fun, and do that. Just remember, your partner also needs some self-care, as well as physical care, so be mindful of balancing both parties’ needs.
9. Take time to reconnect as a couple
Post birth it can be hard for some partners to feel the physical closeness they may have been more accustomed to prior to bringing home a new baby. With the restrictions of sexual activity for at least 6 weeks, intimacy may be lacking in your relationship and that can be challenging. Remind yourself and your partner of other ways to be intimate that do not involve sex.
10. Follow your partners timeline
If your partner isn't ready to leave the baby for a night out or even an hour, respect that. Don’t make her feel bad for not being able to be away from the baby right away. Remember, she and the baby have been together nonstop since conception.
As always, we are always here to chat if you need us.