From nappies to changing mats, breast pumps to baby burps, there’s a lot to get to grips with as a new dad. There are so many books, online articles and antenatal classes that will help you prepare before you bring your new baby home.
However, no matter how much information you gather beforehand, there are a lot of things that might take you by surprise once your new baby arrives. But, don’t fret! You’re not alone in the way you’re feeling.
Here are some thoughts, feelings and facts we found that dads may experience when they first become parents.
1. The world suddenly seems fraught with danger!
From being concerned about whether your newborn will start choking on a toy, to panicking when your little one has their first hiccups: it’s easy to feel overly worried about the safety and wellbeing of your baby! But, it’s okay. That’s very common for a lot of new parents.
Remember: don’t ever feel silly for being worried about your baby’s safety. Newborns seem so tiny and vulnerable.
The key is to follow your gut. If something really doesn’t feel right, contact your health visitor, midwife or GP to check. Or, if you’re not 100% sure whether it’s cause for concern, contact 111 (the non-emergency NHS number that will help give you information when needed).
2. Fun fact: as a new dad, you forget what sleep is
This might be a typical trope that you see in every TV show and every film, but it doesn’t make it any less true! In the early days of parenthood, it’s very likely that you catch a lot less of your Z’s at night.
Grab any rest you can and know that it DOES get easier (honest!)
3. It isn’t just your partner who is up late feeding the baby
It’s a turn-based system for a lot of folks. If your partner is breastfeeding then perhaps you can help by changing your baby’s nappy after a feed and settling them back to sleep. If you’re bottle-feeding it’s easier to take turns and divvy up the night shift.
Sharing the responsibility can help the feeling of being a unit with your partner while also helping to experience that quality bonding time with your baby.
4. New dads, New friends
There’s a lot of talk about the importance of mum friends and how great they can be in the duration of early parenthood.
However, there’s a certain group that are just as important: dad friends!
Finding your tribe is just as important for dads as it is for mums. Shout out to the dads who make us laugh when everything feels like it’s on fire, or who don’t judge us when we are truly struggling. You guys are the best!
(Read our blog on why mum (and dad) friends are so brilliant!)
5. Expect the unexpected
Despite any preparations you make in advance; no matter how many stories you hear from other dads, the unexpected will likely happen!
This will be new and unfamiliar territory, so don’t panic if something occurs that wasn’t in the books!
Just take a deep breath, relax, and follow your gut.
6. Your home will be invaded by the baby-pocalypse!
Before you had a baby, you probably didn’t realise that diaper decor was a thing, did you?
Well with the new abundance of toys scattered across the floor, baby gates in every doorway, and a spattering of new stains and smells around the house, you’re bound to know exactly what it is now!
The arrival of a baby truly does change the dynamic of a home as much as it does a family. But, if that thought worries you, don’t worry! The home you loved and decorated before is still there. It’s just a little bit buried at the moment. If you feel like you and your partner need an escape from the baby-pocalypse, perhaps it would be good to keep a room in your house that is baby-free.
Get out your “No baby toys or nappies allowed past this point!” sign and nail it firmly to the door. You and your partner need your own space. Don’t be afraid to keep hold of it.
7. If you are a new dad, you can experience PND
A lot of people may think that PND is something that can primarily affect women following the birth of their babies. However, it’s definitely something that can affect men too!
According to PANDA’s, 1 in 20 men experience depression during their partner’s pregnancy, and up to 1 in 10 men struggle with PND following the birth of their baby. That figure is a shocking one, that possibly a lot of men don’t know about. So remember, try to take care of yourself. If you notice that you are feeling uncharacteristically low or irritable, perhaps it’s time to reach out for help?
If you feel that you yourself may be struggling or dealing with PND, reach out to your local GP or contact charities like PANDAS. (Find out more at our support page here)
8. You will start thinking about your own mortality more and more
Up until this point, we all feel like we’re pretty invincible. You don’t often think about the dangerous side of your actions or the potential risks that may occur. But now that you have a tiny human in your care, it’s very likely that you’ll start to consider these things more and more.
It’s a good thing to consider the activities in your life that do cause risk to your being. However, it should be said that you should avoid giving up any hobbies that make you the person you are. You have a baby in your care, and they will shape the person you are a lot more. But don’t throw away all the other things you love.
9. New dad: it’s okay to feel blue sometimes – even if you don’t know why
When your partner has a lot on her plate, or the people around you seem chaotically stressed out, you sometimes push your own feelings down and put them as a “low priority”. You will continue to take on more responsibilities and might pretend that everything is fine.
But, everyone feels a little blue sometimes. Including you! You may not even truly understand why it is you feel blue or run-down. But if at all possible, you should try and be open about the way you’re feeling with others. Maybe talking about it out loud will help you identify the problem?
10. It’s okay to accept help from others
It can be difficult to accept help sometimes. We all want to feel like we can do it ourselves. But, when it comes to having a new baby in the house, there’s just so much that needs to be done!
If someone offers to watch the baby for a day while you do some self-maintenance, or perhaps sends you a meal they’ve prepared or other supplies – take it! People are more than happy to help, and it will possibly feel refreshing to have an extra pair of hands nearby.
11. Regardless of how stressful and tired you both may be, you and your partner still support and care for one another
Who was it that said having a baby is like chucking a grenade into a marriage? The beginning period of parenthood can be a busy and tiring time. Both you and your partner may be stressed beyond any limit that you thought either of you could reach before.
However, despite any standoffish or stressful situations that the two of you may encounter, you both are in this together! You are a team, and remember that you both still love and care for one another. The two of you just produced a tiny little human together! You’re both miracle workers, and should reassure each other of that if and when you can.
12. New Dad: you need a support system too
A lot of women are told to keep a support system in place during parenthood. This might be a friendship group, or a “tribe” that they have met at baby or toddler group.
However, you need that too! Perhaps it’s time that you go out and try to find your tribe! Why not take your little one to a baby class? Don’t worry, regardless of how they may market towards women, they are all more than welcoming towards dads too!
13. Finances could be on your mind a lot more now
This one is probably one you started to realise during the pregnancy period, but babies are expensive! Suddenly you’re picking up the cheaper brand in the supermarket, and deciding whether or not to cancel that Netflix subscription.
Whilst it’s a very good idea to try and find some new money-saving hacks, you definitely shouldn’t stop putting money into things that make you happy or help you relax.
There’s a lot of good places you can find money-saving advice, watching programmes by financial journalists like Martin Lewis, or even booking an appointment with a financial consultant if you really need it. There are answers and advice out there – try not to let it occupy your mind too much!
14. Don’t feel bad for needing time away from your baby as a new dad
It’s only human to need some space every once in a while. With the arrival of a new baby, it sometimes might simultaneously feel like you’re never alone but also, surprisingly, isolated. We need other adults in our life.
Don’t feel bad though. It’s incredibly likely that your partner feels the same way themselves! Maybe try deciding a few times and days where you can take it in turns to look after your baby while the other goes to see some other adults. It’s easy to feel guilty, but sometimes we need some time away from our little ones to be the best parents we can be.
15. You didn’t realise how much you could love another human until you had a baby
During the prenatal period, it’s very easy to get swept up in the rush and the frantic chaos of pregnancy. You have got used to “The Bump”. And, perhaps, you haven’t yet been able to fully recognise “The Bump” as another human yet.
But, there’s a special moment that a lot of parents experience once the baby has arrived. You see their face, their very little body that you feel like you have to be extra careful approaching. You hold your hand out towards them, and then their tiny little hand takes hold of what seems like a titanic finger in comparison. Their hand grips onto it so tightly that it catches your breath.
It’s in that moment that you realise that in front of you is possibly the most perfect little human that you’ve ever seen. And you never want them to let go.
Well, these are the new dad facts, thoughts and feelings that we found out about! Did you relate to any of them?
What have we missed in our list? What unexpected thoughts and feelings did you go through when you first became a new dad?
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