Holy God – you have left the hospital, made the drive home and have pulled into your garage. So far all is good and you feel fairly confident and in control. Now, as you sit there trying to get mentally prepared, you realize you actually have to take the baby out of the car and into the house. You guys are now on your own. There are no more nurses coming to check on you or answer your questions. It is all you now. Here is some advice for that first week at home for new dads.
Keep Mom Happy
Sure, you assume because she’s a woman she has that built-in maternal instinct and she’ll just automatically know what to do. Well, maybe. Maybe you get lucky and your wife is just hardwired to get her mom on and you just have to do what you are told. But, it is smart to be prepared for this not being the case. Even if she is a natural, you still need to help out a lot.
How you may ask….
- Run your ass from room to room, getting her anything she needs. She is busy recovering from pushing a human being out of her body – I think you can get her phone charger from upstairs for her.
- Reassure her that she’s doing an amazing job, because she is!
- Give her breaks from the baby when she needs it.
- Clean up after yourself and her. If you weren’t already feeling sexist for assuming she should know how to be a mom, just because she’s a female, then you definitely should now if you assume she should be doing your dishes or picking up your dirty clothes.
Your wife has probably been taking care of you since the day you got married, so it is time to make it up to her. That first week at home for new dads will involve a lot of “what can I get you?” and “do you need anything else?” So be ready to work guys.
Be The Protector
Whether you are a natural with newborns or are 97% sure you will break it if you hold it, this is one job you can do. You are the dad, the father, the man of the house and it is your job to protect mom and baby. Not from like bears or pirates or anything (I mean, maybe), but from friends, relatives, and any other visitors…which can sometimes be scarier than bears.
TELL PEOPLE NO. Seriously, everyone wants to hold the new baby, but you do not want or need a buffet line of visitors waiting to get their germy hands all over your newborn. Plus, it is exhausting and can be overwhelming for mom and baby.
Obviously, don’t be a dick about it, but there is nothing wrong with asking people to wait a few days, or even weeks, before stopping over to see your newest family member.
You can also set the tone for how long visitors should feel welcome. Again, no need to be brazen about it, but you can start to drop hints that maybe it is time for them to hit the old dusty trail. You will get visitors that have no shame about taking up 3 hours or your time.
Trust me, that first week at home for new dads and moms will be exhausting and not just because of the lack of sleep.
No, this isn’t some kids show on Netflix. Kangaroo Care, most commonly seen with premature babies, is when you have skin on skin contact with your newborn. You will see moms doing this in the hospital a lot, but this is also something new dads should be doing. It really helps build the bond and familiarity between dad and baby. If your wife has a c-section, often the nurses will have dad do the Kangaroo Care right after the procedure.
Kangaroo Care is something you should continue that first week at home to help solidify that bond with your new child. Simply lay your baby on your chest while you catch up on the latest episodes of Game of Thrones that you missed while in the hospital. It’s cool, he or she is too little to understand the violence or nudity.
There is a company out there that makes shirts for men, specifically for Kangaroo Care. Check out my review of their Bondaroo shirt
Be Involved During The Night
If your spouse is breastfeeding, you may feel that there really isn’t much you can do to help out, for those middle of the night feedings. That is simply not true. While, sure, you can’t help with the actual feeding – not until she starts pumping for bottle feeding – there is still plenty you can do to make those zombie sessions easier on mom.
- Just be there – Even though it is mom and baby pretty much 24/7, she can still get pretty lonely at 2 am. When she wakes up, you should wake up too. Switch the television on and just hang out while she does what she does. This will also help her stay awake while baby eats.
- Keep her hydrated – Mom is serving out fluids faster than she can consume them, so keeping her hydrated is very important. One of the first things you can do at each feeding is run your arse downstairs and get her some water…..and maybe a snack if she wants one.
- Offer up some rubs – Mom’s body is still recovering from 10 months of growing and carrying a person around and now that is combined with very little sleep and more carrying a person around. Throw a 15 minute back or foot rub her way during late night feedings.
- Diaper Duty – You gotta learn sometime! Don’t make her get out of bed to do diaper changes in the middle of the night. Make this your job. She has enough on her plate.
Don’t Forget Your Furry Kids
If you own pets, especially dogs, be sure that you make it a priority to show them some extra love. Animals will get jealous, especially dogs…ya know, I am just going talk about dogs, because I honestly doubt your ferret or bearded dragon is going to give two shits.
While mom is busy with the baby, be sure to take Fido out for some extra walks and play time. Don’t be shy on the treats and praise either. Remember, this is a big change for your four-legged friend too. He is used to being the baby of your household and now this kid comes along, on his turf, and is getting all the attention.
Conclusion On That First Week At Home For New Dads
Regardless of your comfort level with newborns, or babies in general, you need to step up that first week at home as a new dad. Hopefully, this post on that first week at home for new dads will give you some guidance and help you that first week and beyond.
Just remember that there is no proven right way to do everything. You and your wife will figure it out as you go. Enjoy it, because it really does fly by!
If you are reading this because you and your wife are due any day now, don’t forget that you need to get her a push present. Check out my recent article on Push Presents Ideas to help you out.