The first few weeks with a new baby can be bewildering. You may feel like you’re in survival mode, just coping with the relentless cycle of feeding, changing and tending to your baby’s many needs.
There’s no routine, everything’s unpredictable and your hormones are raging. There’s no manual to follow, no coffee break, not even a toilet break! It can be all-consuming – and very, very exhausting.
Here are some things that might help you get through the first few weeks:
- Be kind to yourself.
- Remember there is no one right way; all parents work it out as they go.
- Expect less of yourself and your partner. Good enough is ok.
- Don’t expect there to be any routine. There is a certain amount of ‘letting go’ required.
- Simplify your life as much as possible. Don’t try to do too much, or go on many outings. In some cultures, mother and baby are looked after and ‘cocooned’ for the first six weeks.
- Sleep when baby sleeps, get to bed earl and nap when you can. Switch your phone to silent or turn it off. People will leave a message.
- Ask for, and accept, help. We’re not meant to look after babies in isolation.
- Only do essential housework. Forget the rest.
- Eat well. Plan simple meals or accept offers of cooked meals. Have plenty of snacks you can eat with one hand. Ask your partner to make you lunch before they leave the house so you have something on hand.
- Try and get outside for a walk each day.
- Don’t run around making visitors cups of tea! Let them make one for you.
- Trust your instincts. Remember, you know your baby best.
- Limit visitors – don’t be afraid to ask people to come back another day.
- Talk about how you’re feeling.
The Father and Child Trust offers support and information to all fathers on any dad-related issue. They help over the phone, have drop-in offices in Auckland (phone 5251690) and Christchurch (phone 9822440) plus they produce the Father & Child magazine quarterly, including a New Baby issue. Many articles from the magazine are on their website. They also run a ‘Fathers’ Mauri Ora Circle’ support group. In Auckland this runs every Wednesday night from 7-9pm at the Onehunga Community Centre. They also provide seminars and training on Dads and Babies, Engaging with Dads and Solo Dads for social workers and family agencies.
Great Fathers is another website worth checking out. It includes a short movie, What’s it Like to be a Father!?!, featuring musicians Tiki Taane, Warren Maxwell and SJD and a Tips & Tricks Toolbox for Dads.