A new role

It takes 9 months to prepare for the arrival of a baby. These days it’s easier for fathers to follow the pregnancy closely. Many dads-to-be are present for the ultrasound, attend prenatal sessions with their spouse, and touch the mother’s belly to feel the baby move. Together, the future parents dream that their baby’s birth will be like a celebration.

When your baby is born, your whole life is turned upside down! Your schedule is all mixed up, the house is a mess, and the new mom is exhausted. Your relationship as a couple doesn’t seem to exist anymore.

You feel lost. Don’t panic—most parents go through this phase!

First, identify your emotions – The birth of a child can take you on an emotional rollercoaster ride. Some of those emotions are positive, like the happiness, wonder, and pride of fatherhood. But feelings of insecurity, uncertainty, and clumsiness can often be harder to deal with. The first step is to recognize your feelings. It’s important to name your emotions, even if they’re hard to accept. There’s a good chance you have someone you can talk to who can help you feel more comfortable about your new role as a father.

Play an active role in caring for your baby – There is no instruction manual on how to be a parent. Getting involved in the day-to-day care of your little one will build your confidence. You may not do everything the same way your spouse does. The important thing is to agree on what has to be done, while respecting each other’s way of doing things.

Nurture your relationship as a couple – At first, new parents sometimes have the impression that they don’t get a minute’s rest and they fear they’ll never again be able to sit down to a quiet meal together. This can certainly put your relationship to the test. But rest assured, things will be easier once you’ve both established your new routines. Even though it’s not always easy, make time to take a break together. Try to understand your spouse’s feelings during the post-partum period (see Baby blues et Depression). Once you’ve settled into your new roles, you’ll both rediscover the desire for intimacy, although perhaps not at the same time.

Accept help from family and friends – The support of family and friends can be extremely helpful while you’re adapting to your new situation. If people offer to help, accept. But be mindful not to let them take over your space. Delegate household work and meal preparation, and stay with the routine you need to learn about your new responsibilities. Remember, it’s important to protect your privacy as a couple and family.