Info for Dads
Dad's Guide to Birth Prep
It's not all about you - you're not the pregnant one.
- BUT, it's not all about your partner, either. You’re a unit, and must navigate pregnancy (not to mention parenthood, when the time comes) as a unit.
- Respect for each other is crucial
- Be open with your partner about your concerns, hopes, and fears about pregnancy, birth, and parenthood, and listen to hers.
- Talk to your friends and family who are dads, and ask questions!
She's growing a whole human, and will likely go through spells of fatigue, sickness, and physical strain. Stepping up help around the house can go a long way.
- Pick up chores around the house - especially ones that require more physical labor or deal with strong smells.
- Run errands.
- Watch YouTube videos for tutorials on massage basics, and help with her achy back or sore feet.
- Be aware of her physical condition, and be ready to give her a steady hand, or to help with socks and shoes once she can't reach them easily.
- Learn how to cook, and have a couple go-to meals that you can quickly and easily make. This will come in handy later, too!
This is the perfect time to cut bad habits/vices as you prepare to welcome baby into the world.
- Ditch or reduce the junkfood. You'll need to set a healthy example soon!
- Quit smoking/vaping, or any other tobacco products.
- Cut back or quit drinking.
- Start exercising. Even a daily walk has huge health benefits!
- Deal with mental health issues. Especially anxiety and anger issues - getting tools to deal with these can REALLY help once kiddo is here.
Women usually bear the brunt of the mental load for a household. Groceries, meal planning, social calendar - it all adds up. Pregnancy and parenthood comes with a LOT of decision making. Help her out.
- Go to doctor appointments with her, and ask questions so you understand what is going on with her body and the baby.
- Help with research and decision making throughout pregnancy.
- When she asks what curtains you like best for the nursery - tell her! Don't just say, "whatever you think."
4th Trimester for Dads
If you feel overwhelmed and completely out of your element, don't worry - it's normal.
In the early postpartum period, it's common for dad to feel a little left out, because there's so much attention on the baby. This will pass with time, and there's some important things to keep in mind:
- You have not been forgotten.
- You are not alone.
- Mothers often deal with this, too.
- Seek out other new parents, and share your experiences.
- Fathers also deal with postpartum depression. If you are feeling overly moody or are having trouble dealing with this time, PLEASE SEEK HELP.
Mom has a lot to do between recovery and feeding baby, but your support in this time will make a WORLD of difference for her.
- Help keep mom grounded, well rested (I mean, within reason), and well nourished. Pro tip - keep a basket of snacks handy, and an extra water bottle filled at all times for when mom is trapped feeding the baby but is suddenly ravenous or desperate for a drink!
- Be encouraging/supportive. She'll be dealing with big emotions at this time. Let her know you're there for her, and that she's doing a great job.
- You’re the buffer between mom/baby and the outside world. Sure, Aunt Sally would love to see the baby. But is she going to be helpful to have around? Or will it add unneeded stress? Send pictures, accept help, but prioritize your own time with mom and baby. The rest of the family (and friends!) can wait if you both want or need them to.
You may feel like a superhero at times, and your kid will definitely think you are - but you need to take care of yourself, too.
- Help at night when you can, but also make sure to get as much rest as possible. That video game will still be there to play later, once you come out of the newborn fog. So will that movie. Turn the screen off and go to sleep!
- DRINK YOUR WATER!!!
- Eat your veggies! You're in survival mode, so if pizza and stale cheetos are what has to happen for supper, at least you ate something! But when possible, make sure to eat as healthily as possible. Your body will thank you for it.
- Ask for help when YOU need it, too! If you are stressed out, CALL SOMEONE. You don't have to be SuperDad all the time.
- Fathers deal with postpartum depression, too - so ask for help if you are struggling!
Male Postpartum Depression
Paternal postpartum depression (PPND) is increasingly common, and is depression that your partner may experience after your give birth to your baby.
- Hormonal fluctuations - Testosterone levels drop; estrogen, prolactin, and cortisol go up. Some men also experience nausea and weight gain.
- Sleep deprivation - Caused by hormone fluctuations paired with the neurochemical changes that occur in the brain.
- Other causes include a history of the disease, relationship instability, financial problems or stress, a sick or premature baby, and having a wife who is also depressed.
Postpartum depression is different from the Daddy Blues, which is similar to normal stress. In this case, a male will likely feel better with extra sleep, working out, or socializing. This is not the case with depression, where symptoms are more severe and last longer.
Here are some common male postpartum depression symptoms:
- Sadness, irritability, agitation, and/or anger
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Distancing from your partner and baby
- Loss of interest in activities that you used to enjoy
- Loss of interest in sex
- Engagement in risky behaviors (abusing alcohol or drugs, gambling, extramarital affairs)
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations
- Suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harm
Symptoms of PPND can last for weeks or even months if left untreated. It’s important to seek help from a medical professional ASAP if you suspect you are suffering from depression.
- Talk therapy with a licensed mental health professional
- Medication (antidepressants)
- Support groups and sites like Postpartummen.com
Keep searching until you find the treatment that's right for you, and remember that seeking help or speaking up is not a sign of weakness, but can save your life.
Breastfeeding Guide for Dads
Don't rush mom or baby.
- Don’t rush mom or baby (in the short-term or long-term) so that life can get back to "normal." (Normal will have a new definition every 6 months for the next few years, anyway!)
- Breastfeeding is natural, but doesn't always come easily. Often moms and babies need several days to get in the groove.
Learn about the benefits of breastfeeding for mom, baby, and the whole family.
- Baby - food that is specifically designed FOR baby. Easily digested, and helps prevent illness better than any other feeding option.
- Mom - helps fight off ovarian and breast cancers, often helps with postpartum recovery and weight loss, and helps protect against postpartum depression.
- Family - lower cost, less space, and less time. No need to buy formula, mix bottles safely, shop for special formula if baby has a sensitive stomach, or to lug around bags full of bottle supplies.
It can take a while to get the hang of breastfeeding, and you can be really helpful during this time!
- Be supportive. Let her know she's doing a great job.
- Keep her well fed and well hydrated. Keep a snack basket handy!
- Understand that it is a process, and DON'T say things like, "the baby's eating AGAIN?!"
- Understand that while her bosom likely looks delightful right now, she probably won't want any extra attention in that department for quite some time, and that's OK. The baby won't go off to college still breastfeeding.
- If she's in pain or discomfort, help find a lactation specialist to talk to. Breastfeeding SHOULDN'T hurt, and early help can be crucial to its success.