Five common things most first time dads experience

Becoming a dad for the first time is a game changer. Experiencing those busy first few months can be overwhelming, yet magical.

We’ve spoken to some first time fathers who shared their insights into some of the changes they didn’t expect.

Lack of sleep

One of the big things many new parents struggle with is the lack of sleep. Tiny babies have no sense of time and sometimes parents are up every few hours around the clock. This can come as a real shock to the system, particularly when you’re trying to support your partner as much as possible, often while juggling work and other commitments.

Perhaps you can try to restore balance in the home by offering to settle the baby after mum has finished feeding – night and day – anytime is a great time to catch up on sleep!

It’s also important to look after yourselves by heading to bed early and eating well. Try to avoid drinking too much alcohol, it might seem like a good idea at the time, but if you’re woken to a crying baby at 4am, there may be some regrets.

How busy you become

If you’ve taken time off when the baby is born, you might have made an ambitious list of things to do, however, it can be surprising for some just how busy life becomes.

Whether it’s cleaning, changing nappies, bathing the bub or doing household jobs or yard work, there is always something to be done. Perhaps you’re taking your little one out to give your partner some uninterrupted time or maybe you’re spending hours simply and marvelling at your precious child – you’ll look at time in a whole new light.

Try not to set unrealistic expectations, for most parents the first three months are a blur. Let the house get messy, encourage others to bring over a hearty soup you can heat up for dinner and focus your energy on looking after your family and yourself in this busy but beautiful time.  

Feeling helpless

In those early days, particularly if your partner is breastfeeding, some men may feel a little helpless, like they’re not playing a big role in caring for bub.

But in these challenging early days of parenthood, team work is really important. There are a lot of things partners can do; bathing, settling, cuddling and soothing the baby, and mum!

According to beyondblue men who have a greater involvement with their new baby tend to be more confident and have a stronger relationship with bub.

While it might not feel like nappy changes, grocery runs and extra jobs around the house are important, they are vital roles in managing your new life together as a family and can make a huge difference to the health and wellbeing of your partner.

Feeling invisible

In everyone’s excitement about meeting the new baby, there will be a lot of questions about how mum and bub are going, but people might not always ask how dad is coping.

According to beyondblue about 1 in 20 men experience depression in the year after their child is born.

It’s really important for men to have someone they can talk to honestly about what they’re going through. Perhaps it’s their partner, parents, friends or a work colleague.

Many women go to mothers groups to talk to women in similar situations, but men might not always seek out this support. Check out some of the local and online support groups specifically set up for men adjusting to the many changes of parenthood.

Less intimacy and sex

The decision of when to start having sex after pregnancy is very personal. A woman’s body needs time to heal, the soreness can last for months and then there is the exhaustion factor.

It’s important to remember a woman’s body goes through major changes during childbirth and she will need time to recover.

Even though you may not be connecting sexually, you can still show your love and affection by cuddling, kissing or playing with your baby together.

It’s important to be able to talk openly and honestly with your partner.

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