Fatherhood: simultaneously the most joyful and nerve-wracking experience you’ve encountered thus far. While your wife is snuggled up cozy on the couch with your newest addition, take a minute to get in the know about all things baby (and postpartum mommy!)
If you’re scratching your head wondering how you can possibly care for this little human, you’re not alone. Only 39% of fathers feel like they’re doing a “very good job.” Hopefully with a bit more knowledge, that number can steadily creep up higher so fathers feel like they’re doing the absolute best for their bundle of joy! Read on for some ways to care for and nurture your baby and your partner while she adjusts to her new life, recovers from childbirth, and figures out how to do the million-and-one things now on her to-do list.
Newborns need constant care and contact, which makes sense seeing as they were in a dark, warm, confined space for nine months and have now been ejected into a very large, very cold, very noisy world! The most important thing you can do during this period in your life is aid your baby and partner in any way you can. Help your partner with breastfeeding or bottle-feeding challenges such as nipple confusion, tongue-tie, improper latch, or a combination of all of these things! Give your partner breaks by engaging in lots of skin-to-skin contact with your newborn, singing, rocking, bouncing, or all of the above! Be a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on for your partner; sometimes your presence is enough of a reassurance to calm down a stressed-out, hormonal mama.
Take turns doing diaper duty. Not only will your partner appreciate the help but it will also make you more confident and self-assured when it comes to larger baby tasks. Start with clean hands and a clean, flat surface like a changing table with a secure strap or the floor. Gather materials such as
- cloth or disposable diaper
- all natural diaper cream
- baby powder
- unscented wipes
Start by removing the diaper and folding it under your baby’s bottom in the event they should eliminate waste during the diaper change. Use one or two wipes to remove any urine or feces from the skin, using light strokes–if you are changing a girl, take care to wipe from front to back to avoid infections from the feces. Once their bottom and genital regions are clean, apply a small layer of diaper rash cream to protect delicate skin. Finish with a small amount of baby powder and strap the new diaper on snugly! Congrats, you did it! Now be prepared to repeat the task in thirty minutes for the next several months!
Calming a Fussy Baby
Sometimes, babies just cry. If you’ve ruled out hunger, overtired-ness, a wet diaper, or tummy troubles as their source of discomfort, simply holding your baby close to you might help her calm down. Try swaddling your baby with a muslin blanket tightly while “shushing” in her ear to replicate the sound and feel of the womb. Kangaroo care, AKA skin-to-skin contact is a great way to calm your baby, too. Pacifiers may help satisfy your baby’s need to suck while soothing her to sleep. Always use a gentle touch and a relaxed voice while tending to your baby. Newborns can pick up on stress and tension and your uncertainty can cause them to get anxious, too. Most importantly, know that it is okay to set your baby down in a safe place to take a breath. Dealing with a crying baby can take a toll on even the most patient person. If you feel worn out, hand your baby to someone safe or leave her to cry in a safe environment while you regain your composure, then try again! Remember, while you’re learning about baby, she’s also learning about you.
Have a Strong Support System in Place
While it’s true that Mom is going through enormous changes physically and emotionally, that doesn’t mean that father don’t experience overwhelming emotions and situations. Make sure your family has a support person or people to turn to when both of you need a break. Whether it’s family, friends, or a trusted neighbor, having somebody to help with the demands of a newborn can do wonders for your emotional wellbeing. Enlist their help to catch up on housework, take a small nap, or splurge on a date night with your partner.
At Care For Mom Doula Services, it is our mission to ensure a smooth transition from pregnancy to postpartum and beyond for mother, baby, and other family members. Please contact us and explore our website to learn about the classes and services we offer. We look forward to hearing from you!
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