There is no better medicine than a big hug and words of encouragement and, as dad or partner, your TLC will often work the best magic.
No need for rocket science, asking for help is the key to enjoying your little bundle. From asking a grandparent to walk your baby round the block whilst you have a nap, getting some time alone, or ringing a help line for breastfeeding. It’s all ok, and might make a vital the difference.
Keep an eye on mum. The early days are a rollercoaster ride of emotions and hormones. Expect the ‘baby blues’ around days three to seven when she may feel tearful and a bit wobbly. If it doesn’t pass, encourage her to chat to her GP, midwife or health visitor.
Uppity Science Chick has all the latest information on postnatal depression. Here is a very gentle video:
LINK: Uppity Science Chick
It’s not just mums who often struggle to adapt to their new role. Dads often struggle as well with their changed role and responsibilities.
LINK: Dad Talk
The more rest mum gets in the early days, the speedier her recovery. Take time to nurture both mum and baby. Why not nap all together in the day when the baby sleeps?
Research shows that mums whose partners are supportive of breastfeeding go on to feed for the amount of time they had hoped. Read our breastfeeding tips section and impress mum with your new knowledge.
Forgive each other for any disagreement in the middle of the night. You can have the craziest of arguments about the science of doing up a babygro! When the sun comes up let it go – your energy levels will need to focus on what really matters and that is learning to adapt to your new roles and new little one.
You are all new to this parenting game, and that includes baby. Everything is a learning curve, trust your instincts and listen to what people have to say, but filter out what you don’t agree with. Take time, even if it’s just five minutes, to listen to your partner without interrupting. Sometimes in the ‘beautiful chaos’ what you think the other person is feeling is completely different from what they are actually feeling and thinking.
Here are some ideas to keep the romance alive in the face of adversity!
You’re not alone: ‘35% of new parents have little or no time together’. Check out the following websites for some great online support:
Responding to criticism.
As new parents we can feel vulnerable, judged and criticised for our parenting choices La Leche has some great responses to common statements that friends and families can make which can make you feel undermined.
A wee saying from Scotland: It’s always easier to bring up someone else’s children than your own.
In the early days as a parent you may feel vulnerable in your new role and confused by conflicting advice or even well-meaning suggestions (which can feel like criticism). Check out the phrases below and find one that suits you so you can be well prepared to respond assertively, if need be.
Use “I” messages instead of “you” messages. (Rather than ‘You always criticise me’, try ‘I really don’t like to be criticised.’)
“I’d like to discuss something. Is this a good time for you?”
“I feel (angry, hurt, etc.) when…”
Some more assertive responses you may like to employ (which will hopefully silence the critics):
- Having your support means so much to me.
- It must surprise you to see me doing xxxxx but current research shows xxxxx .I’d be glad to share my info with you..
- I’d like some time to think about what you just said.
- I’d like some time to think about what you just said.
- Everyone has to make the decision they feel is best for their situation and their baby.
- I’m glad that you care so much about the baby. I’ve thoroughly researched the topic and feel comfortable with my decision.
- My doctor has stated….
- That gives me a lot to think about!
- Your love and concern for the baby really shows.
- That’s certainly another way of approaching it.
With acknowledgment to La Leche
Be discreet if at all possible.
Don’t set yourself up for a discussion you don’t really want to have.
Avoid issues where you anticipate disagreement.
Focus instead on areas where you have something in common.
Offer an explanation of why you do things before you are asked, if you know this is an area which may provoke a negative response. Do this in a gentle way, letting them know how happy you and the baby are. Appear confident and happy with the way you do things, even if you are not. It’s amazing what ‘kidology’ can do. Remember, ‘you can fool all of the people some of the time’.
Rise above criticism as much as you can without a ‘holier-than-thou’ attitude. A positive, non-threatening reply works best. Making light of things often works.
Sometimes it’s best to ignore the criticism and consider the source. People often feel defensive and attack when someone is doing things differently.
If you know you will be in a situation where your actions will be criticised, prepare ahead of time by practising some of these responses. Create your own as needed.
Practising the responses you prefer in front of a mirror or with an understanding friend will help you to be more confident.
When you are in an awkward situation, pause a moment and take a deep, relaxing breath before answering. Share and de-brief with your partner or a friend afterwards.
WORDS OF WISDOM
If I had my child to raise all over again,
I’d build self-esteem first, and the house later.
I’d finger-paint more, and point the finger less.
I would do less correcting and more connecting.
I’d take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.
I’d take more hikes and fly more kites.
I’d stop playing serious, and seriously play.
I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars.
I’d do more hugging and less tugging
~Diane Loomans, from “If I Had My Child To Raise Over Again”