Ready or not, your baby is coming! As new parents, there will be a lot of uncertainty and insecure moments. Am I doing this right? Is our baby eating too often; not often enough? Is he sleeping enough, pooping enough? At times, you may think you are doing everything all wrong. You must confide this truth in each other and learn to lean on each other. Here are several areas where you can make mistakes if you don’t support each other appropriately. YOU CAN DO THIS.
Here are tips from seasoned parents who have been there before:
Don’t hesitate to call a lactation consultant if you have any questions about nursing. Breastfeeding doesn’t come easily to every woman. Like most things in life, you do much better with a little instruction, so don’t be afraid to ask.
“When I was in the hospital, I asked every nurse that came in my room for advice. Was I doing it right? Is the baby latched on correctly? Did she have any suggestions? I left the hospital with a little more confidence about nursing,” says Lisa Banks, mother of two.
DAD TIP: Encourage your wife with her efforts to breastfeed and HELP her succeed. Don’t let naysayers work their way into her thoughts. Be involved with Baby’s feedings, too. You can get up and bring your infant to his mama. You can burp him, change his diaper, be a strong and soothing presence.
Should You Call the Doctor?
If you have any middle of the night health concerns about your baby, don’t feel uncomfortable calling the pediatrician or advice nurse. Trust your instincts and call. Always call the doctor if the baby develops a rash or a very high fever. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, call your pediatrician if your baby is under 3 months old and has a fever; if your baby is under 2 months and has a fever it is considered an emergency. Other times you should call: If your infant is lethargic and unresponsive; has problems breathing or eating; is very fussy and difficult to calm down; has a rash; shows signs of dehydration; has a seizure.
DAD TIP: Remain calm if you need to phone the pediatrician. Write down the symptoms your child has and be ready to tell your pediatrician what your baby ate and how his day has been.
Don’t lift anything heavier than your baby for the first month. Also, as soon as the doctor gives the OK, start doing those Kegel exercises.
Sherrie Palm, founder and CEO of the Association for Pelvic Organ Prolapse Support (APOPS) says, “Women do not realize they should be contracting their PC muscles before they pick up their children and that any heavy lifting can create pelvic floor muscle problems, particularly if done too soon after childbirth.”
DAD TIP: YOU pick up the toddlers. YOU carry in the flat of waters. YOU carry the suitcases in and lift any furniture that needs rearranging. You get the idea!
Aaahh, THE SHOWER
Shower every day. You’ll feel better and have more energy. Before you have a baby, you might think it’s absurd that you would need to be reminded. But after, take care of you!
DAD TIP: Be a love and suggest a shower to your partner, the mother of your newborn. Tell her you will watch the baby while she takes a break. Then, after her shower, YOU get a shower.
Help me, Help you
If someone offers their help (bringing dinner over, doing your laundry, holding the baby while you shower or sleep), let them! Put the “I can do it all myself attitude” on hold for this short time and get used to letting people help you.
It’s Not Personal
After you have a baby everyone you meet will offer advice. Don’t take their suggestions personally. You’re not doing anything wrong; other moms just love to dispense helpful information. After all, they’ve been there before!
“Sleep when the baby sleeps” is actually excellent advice. Who cares about the cleaning and the laundry, you need sleep! But if you have other little ones around, sleeping when the baby sleeps may be impossible. Make arrangements with your partner for “sleep appointments.”
DAD TIP: Consider taking turns with night time feedings. She can pump and you can feed the baby. A lot of couples rotate feeding the baby to get extra sleep time in.
Blue or More Than Blue?
Your hormones are now working overtime adjusting to your postpartum body. You may cry for no reason at all; you will laugh, and you may be emotional all within a 10-minute time span. Don’t be alarmed — these are your hormones talking. Be kind to yourself. This will pass. If the baby blues persist, consult your doctor.
DAD TIP: Remember that word SUPPORT? Now more than ever is the time for you to be of support to your wife. Take the baby from time to time and tell her to recharge. If you ever feel as though the new mama is struggling more than she should emotionally, call your mother. Call your mother-in-law. Call a friend for perspective. Get the new mama more support as soon as possible.
Ask and Receive
This is not the time to hint or hope that your husband understands your wants and needs. Having a baby has not changed that he doesn’t mind dirty dishes in the sink or mounds of laundry scattered throughout the house. If you need him to do something, you must ask.
“If you tell him specifically what you want, you are much more likely to get it,” says Greg Bishop author of Hit the Ground Crawling (Dads Adventure; 2006).
Now more than ever before in your life is the time to start saying encouraging words. Both of you. A lot. When your husband changes the baby and hands him to you say, “Good job on that, honey.” Find ways to build up the new dad at home — he’s SO important to your baby and SO important to YOU!
DAD TIP: The new mama in your life does not have “baby brain.” She has a million things going on in her mind because she just delivered an infant out of her body into the world. She is wondering about her milk production. She is worried about the rest of the household. She is attempting to manage it all and it’s hard on her. YOU jump in. YOU take initiative. YOU take on a cool, calm, “Don’t worry, I got this” attitude and she will grow in admiration for you. Tell her she’s doing a great job. And tell her again. And again.
Cassi Denari is a mom and freelance writer.