Nine long months are about to come to a close with a little bundle of joy. You’ve assembled the crib, painted the nursery and made midnight candy bar runs – but what now?
Ask any man who’s become a dad, and he’ll tell you he had apprehensions (some might even say huge, insomnia-inducing fears) about becoming a parent. Especially for the first time. It’s natural – your lovers’ duo is suddenly a party of three, overrun with all types of paraphernalia you’re unsure of (just what is that contraption on the floor with the baby light show and swinging toys?).
You’ve heard that changing diapers can be a nauseating job, that babies often cry more than they giggle in the first few months and that, like it or not, the 8-hours of zzz’s you’ve been used to are probably going out the window.
But don’t worry, dad. The fears of becoming a parent are normal. We’ve compiled a few tips to ease your apprehensions and hopefully let the joy overcome the nerves.
Be prepared! Heed the old boy scout adage. Dads who read a book or two on the basics (changing a diaper, giving a bath, warming a bottle) tend to feel more at ease. If you have a friend with a young baby, ask to “shadow” him for a few hours one day, and even practice changing a diaper, all while asking him all those questions in your head. And don’t pass on a parenting class – the more you learn in advance, the better prepared you’ll feel. Check out all the classes and events offered by Brookwood Baptist to see what might be beneficial for you.
Take some time. Gone are the days when only mom took a little time off work after the baby was born. These days, many companies offer paternity leave, allowing new dads to take a few days off work to be with mom and baby. And if your company doesn’t have paternity leave, try to save up some vacation time so you can be there in the first days – or even weeks – after baby is born. Just being around, bonding with your baby, can set your mind at ease for the days, months and years to come.
Talk it out. Men have a reputation for keeping their feelings bottled up. But a new baby brings on a slew of emotions that may surprise you. Nervousness, anxiety, ambivalence, fear, depression – even jealousy – can all be scary feelings of new fatherhood. Rest assured – your spouse is likely feeling many of the same emotions, and it’s likely that your dad buddies felt them too. Don’t be afraid to talk to others, and tell them how you’re feeling. You may be surprised how much more relaxed you feel after you realize that your spouse feels – and that your friends felt – the same way.
Hang with mom. Even though you both may be more tired than you’ve ever been in your lives, it’s important for new moms and dads to still take time for one another. Sure, you may not be able to enjoy a three-hour, five-course dinner, but you might be able to squeeze in morning coffee together while the baby is still sleeping. Try to have conversations that don’t revolve around the baby, for your sanity, and for hers.
Help where you can. It should go without saying, but the more practice you have with caring for your new baby, the better you’ll be at it. So even if mom is breastfeeding, help with burping, or bath time, or diaper changing. Sure, it will all seem scary at first, but practice makes perfect (or, better), so get in there and get involved with your bundle of joy. You’ll find that you’ll form an even better bond with baby that will last a lifetime.
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