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Postpartum tips for dad

Dear Daddy to be,

pregnancy and childbirth are completely transforming experiences for women, mentally and physically. Her body and her mind are being stretched daily. Her body is heavy and swollen, she has gained weight and has maybe suffered from nausea or other pregnancy related issues. Hormone fluctuations and trouble sleeping at night have an effect on the emotions.

The mind has been working at a furious pace, trying to come to terms with the new body shape and the future as a mother. She is concerned about the birth, about how the body will recover after childbirth, about breastfeeding, what mothering will be like, how is all this going to affect your relationship… All these questions and more are going round and round in her mind!

All of the above experiences and feelings will inevitably change a woman – mentally and physically.
You have so many opportunities to help and support her. The smallest things can be the ones that she remembers forever. Little praises lift her self-esteem and soothing reassurances make her worries disappear. Proud loving looks, little acts of remembering her favorite drinks or food, bringing small gifts and letting her know how much you appreciate her during the pregnancy are really important. They are most important after giving birth. She will never be quite as vulnerable as after birth, she is raw from the experience of birth and she is facing the unknown.
If you have ever played a superhero as a kid, now is your chance to be one in real life.

Your superhero mission is to build a protective shield around her. This shield will protect her from any hurtful comments as well as well-meant advice that will come from everyone. The protective shield will only grow stronger with praise, affection, touching and love. You have completed the mission successfully if one day she will say: “I couldn´t have done it without the support from my husband.”
Your relationship is going to have to take second place after the baby is born for some of the time. Fatigue, uncertainty and all the decisions you have to make on top of taking care of a new life 24/7 will take its toll on both of you. She has the important role of feeding the baby through day and night and after you return to work, she will be with the baby every moment of the day. She will most likely have no energy left to take care of your relationship, so that too could be your mission during the first year of baby´s life.

Here are some tips for superhero dads for the postpartum period. Small, but important things!
• A clean and tidy home when you come home from the hospital
• Clean sheets, clean towels
• Small “birth gift” and / or flowers on the kitchen table waiting for mom
• Allow her to recover from childbirth in peace as long as she needs, and then for a while longer
• Be sensitive. If she gets tired of visitors, gently guide them out
• Make sure that the refrigerator is full of nourishing food and drink
• When she is breastfeeding, offer her a drink, she needs it
• Make her eat regular snacks, fruit, smoothies, sandwiches etc.
• Praise her on how beautifully she is feeding the baby, how happy and content she makes the baby feel
• Remember that your support is the most important thing for successful breastfeeding
• Show your love often – a touch, a massage, tender words, a mother needs “mothering”
• Tell all your friends how proud of her you are and what a wonderful mother she is
• Make sure she gets to have a shower every day
• Make sure she has a chance to sleep during the day
• Make sure she doesn´t do any housework for the first few weeks
• Be strong, because she will try to do housework and she will claim she doesn´t need a nap
• Spend a lot of time with your baby.
• Take either the bathing / diaper change / burping responsibility
• Learn how to carry the baby in a sling
• When you return to work, call during the day to ask how they are doing or send messages
• Spend some time alone with your baby every night, so that she gets a moment for herself
• Ask how the day has gone and really listen to her answer
• Do not attempt to solve the “problem”, she only needs someone to listen and to support her emotions
• If there are problems with the breastfeeding, seek help if the mother is too tired to ask for help herself
• Go to as many doctor´s appointments as you can
• Arrange small breaks in routine – hotel breakfasts, weekend breaks, walks in new parts of the city, massages, gift certificates for spa´s etc. These will help bring variety to her everyday life.

No matter how great you are at doing all of these things, you probably still feel overwhelmed. Your life has changed too, and you have to give yourself time to adjust. The responsibility of parenting can be scary. It is important that you get to talk about your feelings or concerns to someone. Take care of your own needs too.

You need to stay strong so you can take care of mum and baby.

Spend time and have naps with the baby. If you’ve already talked to the baby during the pregnancy, your baby will immediately recognize your voice. Now, hold your baby close, preferably skin-to-skin, so that your baby will get used to your feel and scent. It is important that you learn how to soothe the baby. Get to know your babys personality and learn how to recognize your baby’s different messages of hunger and tiredness. Be involved in everything right from the beginning, as an equal parent, not as the “mother’s assistant”.
Parenting is a shared experience, a child needs both of you just as much. You’re giving your child things that a mother can never give. The mother gives the child things that you cannot give. None of these things rule one another out.

Learn to appreciate your differences as parents and remember that it will not always be like it is now. Keep in mind that the first year is the hardest and think of ways to have a joyful and happy first year – it will be over sooner than you know it!

In this Babyjoy blog I write about the things that I see, feel and do. You are free to disagree, do not read anything as gospel. I write to clear my head and make sense of this world, and I hope my writings make you think and move you in one way or the other. Thank you for reading! Tara XX

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