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activities. This can be stressful for new
parents who are used to a more carefree
or independent lifestyle.
• Disrupted sleep.
Newborns challenge
their parents’ ability to get a good night’s
sleep. Sleep deprivation can quickly take
a toll on new moms and dads.
• Financial strain.
The cost of your baby’s
delivery, health care, diapers, clothing
and other supplies can add up quickly.
The financial strain might be worse
if you move to a bigger home or pay
someone to take care of the baby while
you work - or you or your partner takes
unpaid leave or quits
work to take care of the
baby.
• Less time with your
partner.
Having a baby
means sharing your
partner’s attention with a
third party. It’s common
for a new dad to feel left
out.
• Loss of sexual activity.
Recovery from
childbirth, physical
exhaustion and stress
can take a toll on your
sex life, which might
strain your relationship.
• Depression.
Research
shows that some
fathers - like mothers -
experience depression
shortly after a child’s
birth.
Take action
before your
baby is born
If your partner is still
pregnant, ease anxiety
by actively preparing for
fatherhood. As a new dad,
you can:
• Get involved.
During
pregnancy, men don’t
experience the same daily reminders
that they’re about to become parents as
do women. Placing your hand on your
partner’s belly to feel the baby kick,
attending prenatal visits and talking
about the pregnancy with others can
help you feel involved.
• Attend prenatal classes.
Prenatal classes
can help you and your partner find out
what to expect during labor and delivery,
as well as learn how to take care of a
newborn.
• Consult a financial planner.
Talking to a
financial planner can help you determine
ways to handle the cost of having a baby.
• Build a network of social support.
During pregnancy, your partner might
get support from health care providers,
loved ones and friends. It’s important
for men to have a support network
during this time, too - especially if the
pregnancy was unplanned or you’ve
heard negative stories about parenting.
Seek out friends and loved ones who can
give you advice and encouragement as
you prepare to become a father.
• Talk to your partner.
Talk about how
your daily lives and relationship might
change - for better and for worse - once
the baby is born.
• Consider what kind of father you want
to be.
Take time to think about your own
father. Consider what aspects of that
relationship you might want to emulate
with your own child and what you might
do differently.
Stay involved after
your baby is born
Once your baby is born, look for ways to
connect with your newly expanded family.
As a new dad, you can:
• Room with your family at the hospital.
If the hospital allows, stay with your
partner and newborn until it’s time to
take the baby home.
• Take turns caring for the baby.
Take turns feeding and changing
the baby. If your partner is
breast-feeding, offer to bottle-
feed pumped breast milk - or
burp the baby and put him or
her to sleep after breast-feeding
sessions.
• Play with the baby.
Women
tend to provide low-key,
soothing stimulation for their
babies, and men often engage
their babies in noisier, more
vigorous activities. Both styles of
play are important, and seeing
your newborn smile can be its
own reward.
• Be affectionate with your
partner.
Intimacy isn’t limited
to sex. Hugs, kisses, shoulder
rubs and other types of physical
contact can help you stay
connected while your partner
recovers from childbirth and
both of you adjust to the new
routine. It’s also important
to continue talking to your
partner about the changes you’re
experiencing and what you can
do to support each other as your
baby gets older.
• Seek help.
If you’re having
trouble dealing with changes
in your relationship or you
think you might be depressed, talk
to a counselor or other mental health
provider. Untreated depression affects
the entire family.
Becoming a new dad is a life-changing
experience. By recognizing and planning
for the challenges ahead, you can ease your
stress and spend more time enjoying your
new family.
H