Becoming a dad for the first time is a life-changing, exciting and overwhelming event - so what are the best tips for new fathers?
Having a baby and becoming a parent is a life-changing event that can take some adjustment for everyone in the family (especially if you're used to getting lots of sleep and love your lie-ins as much as we do).
While you have nine months to get used to the idea and prepare, the reality - where you leave your house as a couple and return as a family - can come as quite a shock!
So what can you do to make things go as smoothly as possible? For our next post in TalkDad month, here are our top tips for new fathers to help you all cope in those first weeks.
Bond with the baby: If your partner is breastfeeding, it can seem like there aren't as many opportunities to bond with the baby. But it's so important to form a close bond with the baby and there are lots of different ways you can do this, from changing nappies to as many cuddles as possible. Skin-to-skin is important for you, too, as well as the mother - make sure you have new baby skin-to-skin cuddles soon after the birth. Baby wearing - where you 'wear' the baby in a sling or carrier - is another way for you to get close, too.
Help with breastfeeding: If your partner is breastfeeding they will need a lot of support to succeed, both practical and emotional. A great tip for new fathers is to make sure your partner has enough water to drink as well as lots of healthy and filling food and snacks. Breastfeeding mums spend a lot of time sat down so stock up on box sets for you both to watch, too. If they are struggling, help them to get help from your midwife, a local breastfeeding clinic or one of the big parenting organisations like the NCT. Read up on all our breastfeeding posts and tips here.
Help with the baby: You are in it together, so share the load - it can be daunting to think the responsibility is all on one person. Take your turn with nightfeeds - if your partner is breastfeeding she might want the company even if you can't do much. Make sure your partner gets enough sleep in the day. Take the baby out for a walk or sit and snuggle with them while you watch TV. And it goes without saying that nappy changes are for *everyone*.
Cook, clean, make sure all the household tasks are covered: While we all know housework is an equal task you both share, make sure you've got it covered when there's a new baby. Stock up on easily-prepared food (or buy it in from places like Cook). If neither of you want to clean, consider getting a cleaner instead.
It's an emotional time - be there and be supportive: Emotions in the time after birth are a rollercoaster. After the post-birth elation, there's a hormonal slump on day 3 which might mean a lot of tears. Make sure your partner gets some attention too. Just be there and listen. Watch your mental health, too - although not as widely discussed as for women, PND does occur in fathers too. If you think you're suffering or struggling to cope, talk about it - contact your GP.