Our dads and moms-to-be learn about the common landmines they will face together as for new parents. Then they do the best thing possible; they talk about them. Here is what is in their list:
- Plan For Sleep & Night Feedings
"Sleep whenever you can" is the first advice new parents get and the last one followed. You’ll need to make sleep a priority and prepare a sleep plan, as mom will get focused on her baby’s needs and forget her own.
- A Postpartum Depression Deal With Mom
Postpartum depression/anxiety symptoms are definitive and if they show up, you’re likely the only one around her who notices. A popular “deal” between parents is if you recognize signs of PPD, you’ll make sure mom sees her doctor. We’re also learning more about the impact of high stress on new dads, so check your own mental health status too.
- Anticipate Mom’s Gatekeeping
Hormonally driven new moms mostly take over the care of your baby no matter how egalitarian you both wanted your parenting to be. Talk about it; we recommend a pact between you now that if she starts gatekeeping, you call it (i.e., “you are gatekeeping”), and mom leaves the room. If more effective action is needed, mom leaves the house and heads to the mall.
New dads and moms are surprised by the immense amount of work—child care, housework and producing extra income—a baby brings. When there is too much to do, who does what is a major source of conflict. Talk about it now to develop an initial plan, and include streamlining shopping, meal prep, buying baby supplies, etc. After month when you will understand the workload, then talk about dividing it up. At first it’s better to for both of you to just pitch in on everything. (baby care, cooking, cleaning, etc.).
- Talk About the Family Budget
Talk with your partner about your concerns and map out a plan to stretch the dollars. Start the conversation now, as it will be difficult to find the time, energy and emotional focus once the baby’s on board. Creating a simple budget will make the best use of your money and prevent a lot of unnecessary stress. Find more info on preparing financially here.
- Be Prepared For Childbirth
Go over the Childbirth Cornerman’s Guide and talk with mom about her plans. If she wants a ”natural birth,” point out that plans can take unexpected turns, and create a code word (“red!”) for mom to use if she opts for an epidural. Also, download a free contraction timing app for your phone (iPhone: Full Term—labor Contraction Timer; Android Google Play: Contraction Timer) and show her you are ready when she is.
“Help” from friends and relatives can and should be just that—helpful. You don’t want intrusions in your early days as a family, but you do want to make full use of your “village.” See our list of things people can help with (cooking, shopping, cleaning, errands) and outline visitor rules for the newborn phase.
- Begin Building Your Village
- Mom needs mom friends and/or a moms group.
- Dad friends for you (take the initiative with rookies you meet at childbirth class).
- Willing grandparents: don’t push them away with a long list of baby care rules.
- Hired help like a sitter; save your money on baby stuff and spend it here.
- A mom who accepts help so people get comfortable offering.