"When you hold that baby, it's so powerful because you've thought about it for so long, talked about it, read about it, and now it's in your hands...I didn’t want to let go."
- New Dad
Some of Dad’s concerns…
He may be worried about childbirth (that he’ll faint or blow it as your birth coach), or he’s afraid he’ll drop the baby or screw up in any number of ways.
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Most men have a full life before their first baby is born: Their career is building or in full swing, and they have marriage, friends and hobbies that fill up their days. Fatherhood may have been a surprise and he’s worried life will “never be the same.”
He’s going where billions of dads have gone before, but entering new territory can bring on fears about what’s ahead and if he’s prepared enough.
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He might be worried about childbirth, seeing you in pain, or what your relationship and sex life will be like.
This is a big one. Long work hours may have him already stretched to the limit. Money might be tight or taking paternity leave is unpaid. Maybe you need a bigger home or new car, plus all the baby gear: crib, stroller, car seat, diapers—money, money, money.
Another big one. Even if there’s no need to worry, fears about what could go wrong might overwhelm him.
In-laws…enough said. One study found this was the main complaint from new dads (they must not have asked about sex!).
"I'm concerned about managing everything because I work a ton of hours. And I want to support my wife and be there for my son."
“I’m worried I’ll be so anxious and nervous when he’s born that I’ll pass out.”
"I'm worried I'm going to be a wreck who is sleepwalking through everything and not around mentally...Like I'm not going to be very good at things the first couple of weeks."
Here’s what Dad’s path looks like compared to yours:
“It was like a light switched on. My job was still important, but being home to experience his ‘firsts’ was more important. It changed my life for the better. He’ll never remember them, but I’ll never forget them.”
A few more things about new dads:
- Fathers are fully equipped to nurture and protect their babies.
- Dads bring unique strengths to parenting.
- Fathers, like mothers, are figuring parenthood out as they go.
- The changes new moms experience can be tough on new dads, too.
- Dads feel "dumped" when mom's focus fully shifts to the baby.
“As a mom, you've carried the baby for nine months and you think you can do everything. Turning over the reins and letting them help out is hard.” - New Mom
“A lot of our comfort with the baby comes from trial and error. We need to let Dad have that, too. He needs to be around the crying baby without us so he learns how to soothe her.” - New Mom
Signs of PPND:
- Sadness, agitation or irritability
- Mood swings, angry outbursts
- Shortness of breath, heart palpitations, panic attacks
- Loss of motivation and interest in activities once pleasurable
- Risky behavior, including drug and/or alcohol abuse
- Loss of or excessive appetite
- Withdrawing or working extra-long hours
“Understand that if your husband doesn’t immediately step in to help, it’s not because he’s being passive and lazy. It’s probably because he’s scared and unsure of his skills with the baby. Support and encourage him whenever possible; build his confidence and you’ll find that he will be a lot more willing to help out and able to fully experience the joys of fatherhood.”
- New Mom
“I’m an attorney and I’ve accomplished a lot in my life, but having my little girl is the greatest thing I’ve done or will ever do.”
- New Dad
“You’re just figuring it out as you go, no matter how many books you’ve read or how many ideas you have of what you want to do. You see the way they look at the world, and that affects how you look at it.”
- Ben Stiller, Father & Actor
“It’s an incredibly awesome thing, because you’re constantly thinking about the responsibilities that you’re dealing with. You’re faced with the reality that you’re going to be an influence on a new person in the world."
- New Dad