Before baby arrives, dads can often feel like mum’s the headlining act and they’re just the lowly support band. Of course, it’s only natural given she’s carrying the baby and all, but there’s still plenty dads can do to make sure the new gig goes smoothly.
Kinderling Conversation spoke to resident baby expert Chris Minogue about what dads should know and do before baby shows up on stage. Here's what she told us.
1. Be strategic about taking time off
“When you take leave should depend on how much external support the mother has. I suggest dads take time off toward the end of the hospital experience, as they have good support there. If dad’s only got two weeks off, mum’s going to need that two weeks when she comes home, especially if she has no one else.
It’s important not to ‘clutter’ the support. You don’t want everybody there in the first three weeks and then mum’s abandoned. Make sure mums have the maximum length of time of support.
2. Remember dads can do (almost) everything mum can
“Everything but breastfeed. Parenting is a ‘we’ job, not an ‘I’ job. You need to learn together. Dads being involved is the norm now. Dads can change babies, attend settling class, even breastfeeding and physio classes to understand about their wives’ bodies recovering.
But (for dads to do this), mum also has to let go of a few things. We always say dad won’t drown the baby, but he’ll just do it differently.
3. Understand the focus will naturally be on the woman
“It’s completely normal that everything’s centred around mum carrying the baby. You’ve just got to find your groove and if it’s researching car seats, that’s great. Have discussions with your partner about what she wants during labour, how you’re going to help her. Look at working together and this will help connect you to the pregnancy.”
4. Discuss how you’ll manage sleep (deprivation)
“Sleep deprivation is the number one thing I see in terms of post-natal anxiety and depression. I normally tell dads getting up and helping up until midnight is a good idea, but generally after midnight, you need to get some sleep. Then you can support her (the next day), by making a cup of tea when she’s feeding or letting her take a nap in the afternoon, which will make a huge difference. Remember to be kind to one another and recognise the effects of sleep deprivation in each other.”
5. Be ready to be her bodyguard and bouncer
“Co-ordinating friends who want to see baby is your number one job, not only at the hospital but when at home. Pick a mutual time when you’re happy for people to visit. Take the pressure off her so she’s not breastfeeding in front of people she’s not comfortable with. Make sure people don’t stay too long. Slip the timeframe into the conversation – say ‘We’d love to see you at 2 o’clock for an hour’.”
Hear Kinderling Conversation weekdays at 12pm and check out the podcast
The simple change that made family dinner time great again
Kids who eat with the family most nights are generally less stressed.
The best thing about my kid-free commute: Rediscovering the phone
An unexpected up-side of my drive.
Good parenting means we need to raise ourselves first
Quit with #badmum and #mumguilt. We need to rise up with the positives.
Impossible Mission? Working from home with kids around your ankles
It's harder than it looks, right?
Rule-breakers: Why the best childhood memories are made when parents loosen up
Being a parent is a serious job, but we have to keep it real, writes Shevonne Hunt.
4 cardinal rules to follow for kids’ birthday party invitations
Don't make these mistakes.
Why Dads need to start owning their mental health. Now.
Be brave for yourself, but be brave for your family too.
7 stories about refugees to read to your kids
Helping children understand what others experience across the world.