i want to be a dad
Becoming a Dad forces your life to change. It can often mean living on less money, seeing your friends less, living on less sleep, and learning how to look after a little tyke. This said, most fathers say having children is the best thing they've ever done and they wouldn’t change it for the world. The first months can be tough, especially if it's your first child. We've put together some of the common experiences men have when they become a Dad and some helpful tips.
IDEAS AND INSPIRATION
It’s absolutely normal to feel like we don’t know what we’re doing to start with. But the more hands on we are, the more quickly it starts to feel natural. It’s important that we bond with our baby from the very beginning so get involved straight away. Babies starts to hear us 7 months into the pregnancy so they start to know us before we know them.
You’ve probably been attending antenatal classes with your partner, and you might have been present at the birth, so keep it up once your baby’s born. With the exception of breast feeding, we can be equally involved in the loving and nurturing of our baby and equally as involved in the new chores: nappy changing, bathing, night feeding (espressed milk).
It’s a bit of a cliche, but it couldn’t be more true: Keep calm and carry on. You can always ask advice from those who’ve been through it. And you might want to read up on what to expect.
The S.K.I.P. website (Strategies for Kids – Information for Parents) have a good online Survival Guide for New Dads.
If you’ve decided to be the primary caregiver and stay home to look after the baby, you’re entitled to up to 18 weeks paid parental leave. If your partner’s going to be the primary caregiver then you can take one or two week’s parental leave depending on how long you’ve been in your job.
There are all sorts of conditions around parental leave so it’s a good idea to check it out fully. Here’s a link to the Employment NZ website where you can find exactly what you’re eligible for.
We might be good to go, but our partner might not be. After the birth, sex might be painful for her or she might have lost interest in sex. This is pretty normal, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect us. The most important thing is that you talk about it with your partner. Not talking can drive a wedge between you. For great information on this topic go to GreatFathers.org.nz.
It’s true, we’re going to have less time for ourselves when our baby’s born. However, it’s really important to make a regular time for YOU to do something you enjoy that doesn’t involve your baby, to keep seeing your friends, and to make sure your partner gets this time out too.
It can be exhausting having a baby around: sleepless nights, crying, nappies, bathing, feeding, off to work and repeat. Whether you’re the one who works outside the home or the one who stays with your baby all day, you’ll want to chill out at the end of the day. Your partner’s going to feel the same way, so work out a compromise where you take turns to relax. Some couples take turns having a night off, or a morning sleep-in on the weekend.
In the lead-up to having a baby, it’s normal to feel anxious about money, particularly if both of you work, and you face living off one income for a while. You’re not alone. Here are some tips from those who have been through it all:
- Make a distinction between what you NEED and what you WANT.
- Buy things as you need them, don’t go crazy and pre-buy a whole lot of baby things you probably will never use.
- Not everything needs to be new. Babies grow so quickly, and many people like to hand-on their old baby gear to friends and family.
- Hire and borrow. Plunket hires car seats (but you need to book early on). When kids get a bit older, join your local library and toy library.
- If money is a real struggle, think twice about having another baby and focus on the children you have.
- You might be eligible financial support and tax credits. Find out what you’re eligible for on these websites:
One in six solo parents is a Dad. We’re not going to pretend this is easy.
Legal advice for solo Dads can be found on the Father and Child website.
Parenting advice for solo Dads by solo Dads can be found on blogs and Facebook. Two good ones are:
About 10% of babies in NZ are born to teen parents. Being a young Dad can be really challenging, you often cop a lot of criticism, and it can be hard to know where to get help.
The THRIVE website is a great support service for teens expecting their first child or who are already new parents. They offer parenting programmes and intensive support with experienced social workers and case workers. You’re not too young to be a proud and responsible Dad.
Dads can suffer from postnatal depression too. It’s often caused by a combination of the following:
- Uncertainty about your role (how much or how little does your partner want you involved?)
- Mixed messages about your role from friends, family and the media.
- Difficulty bonding with your baby.
- Money worries.
- Unrealistic expectations.
- Feeling trapped.
For help, check out our DEPRESSION page.
Dave Laurence, 33, shared his experience of becoming a first time father with Men’s Health. Baby Lily was born by caesarean section one week after her natural due date, weighing in at a mighty 4.4kg. "I watched the operation and took photos. I’m ok with blood and guts so it never crossed my mind not to be there."Read More