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Helping DP/DH adjust to being a dad.(13 Posts)
I'm 9 months pregnant and looking for some advice.
This baby is very much wanted by me and my DP. It will be the first for both of us and I'm confident my DP will be a brilliant, kind, loving dad. However, he's mentioned a few times that he's a bit nervous. He's never held a new born before and he's admitted that he'll be 'following my lead' when it comes to parenting.
The truth is I think he's actually going to be more of a 'natural' parent than I am! He's a very caring and patient person. He also does at least 50% of the cooking and cleaning. (I'm very lucky!!)
However, he's VERY self critical and I'm worried that if things don't go perfectly (which of course they won't because there is no such thing as 'perfect' with a baby!) that he'll take it to heart, blame himself and struggle to bond.
We've talked quite openly about this. I've told him that I feel the same way about being nervous and all FT parents feel like that. Ive also reasured him that I think he'll be a really good dad, that no one will be judging him (least of all me and the baby!). I've said we probably will make mistakes and have difficult times but we will learn together as we go along.
Unfortunately he didn't have a very good role model as a father and I think this is really effecting his confidence. Also, we have friends with a new baby who are on the verge of splitting up mainly due to the changes having a baby have made to their relationship. I really don't think this will happen to us but I still want to do everything I can to stop this.
so... once the baby is here is there anything I can do to boost his confidence and enjoy being a dad? Any tips to help him bond with the baby?
Things that I think helped us (our PFB is 3months)
-Giving DH time and space with DS without me- even just while I stuck some washing on, or suggesting they go for a walk so I could sleep.
- Doing things like first few nappies/baths together then suggesting 'are you on to bath DS while I.....'
-Trying not to comment/criticise unless it's really important (took me a while to realise if LO goes out in a slightly odd outfit it doesn't matter as long as hes not too hot/cold!) Definitely no public criticism/comments
- Me asking for help while getting wee'd or poo'd over- makes it easy for them to shout when they need you... But asking DH if he needs help rather than wading in or taking over immediately
- Keeping talking- but no competive tiredness (great piece of advice on here) Explaining what would be helpful, I realised it isnt always obvious
- Necessity helped! DH got DS dressed for the first time in hospital while I got myself cleaned up and sorted out, he carried him to the car for the first time while I concentrated on walking! So there were instantly things he had more experience of than me
- We still say 'well done' when one of us gets a grumpy DS to sleep or deals with a manky nappy on an awkward changing table etc!
TBH tiny babies are both amazing and fascinating - and quite dull (in my experience!) DH is enjoying the relationship much more in the past 6weeks or so now he can play and be silly and get smiles and giggles and interaction going.
Hope that helps! Congratulations on your impending LO!
He sounds like he'll be a great father just for even voicing his concerns!
We had our first baby earlier this year and soon realised we are good at different things. DH finds baths easier than me so he does bath and bed time. In the early days we tell each other what had gone well/been enjoyable every night before we went to sleep. This helped us both to feel more confident.
Enjoy your little one!
My one piece of advice would be to keep communicating and always be honest with each other. I think it is good you and your husband are aware that he is nervous, my dh wasn't and we got quite a shock when ds was born. My dh was quite teary and found things difficult, in hindsight it was the shock. Our baby was planned and as the carrier I already knew my life was going to change but my poor dh just didn't realise how much it would.
We spent a lot of time talking and when family offered to take ds for an hour or two we bit their hands off and went for a walk or a coffee.
Sorry if this sounds a little depressing but it's an honest account for us and hopefully it won't be similar situation for u. What I would say is around the 3 month mark my dh seemed happier again and the bond he has with ds is just brilliant!
I found the mw etc were so obsessed with how my mental health was that my poor husband was overlooked by health progressionals, family etc.
So be kind to each other
Best of luck for your baby, being a mummy is the best feeling in the world
I think he sounds lovely btw, but can see where you are coming from.
I would say from straight after the birth you are both parenting and the decisions you need to make both long term and shorter term should be joint, even if they seem small choices or decisions. It is so easy to allow one parent to become the more dominant.
Day to day care as well, get him as involved as you are, if you are bf there is nothing to stop him taking over once you have finished and as others have said he can take baby for walks, change, entertain, etc.
Just make sure you treat him as equal and don't give him any time to be doubtful of his ability. Don't let him take your lead, explain that he knows as much as you do and babies don't come with a manual it is trial and error and something you experience and learn together.
Best of luck, and yes totally agree being a mummy is the best feeling in the world
My husband was the same, also due to a slightly difficult relationship with his own dad. I knew it would be ok when he was sitting in the delivery suite with DS in his arms, talking to him for hour after hour whilst I was delivered of placentas, stiched up, had a shower, had something to eat... this is actually my overwhelming memory of that night... I can't remember holding DS myself, although I am told that I did... ! But I second the don't criticise, and let him find his own feet with DS.
For me the main thing is just to step back and let him get on with it. Yes, you might know an easier way for getting your baby into a babygro, but don't say anything, let him learn as you have learned too.
One really practical thing that DH did when dc were tiny babies was to wear them in a sling for a couple of hours after bedtime feed. I'd go to bed early to get some sleep in before the night feeds started and he had some 1-to-1 time with the baby. He still remembers this as a really special time
I would say don't worry if he doesn't seem to be taking to it straight away. Mine didn't seem that keen on fatherhood until the baby got playful but now (7 months) is really enjoying spending time with him. One thing that worked for us is that he would have the baby for half an hour in the mornings before work while I had a shower, got dressed etc. That was when he was working long hours and otherwise wouldn't have had any time with him on weekdays.
Also the don't criticise unless you feel there's a health/safety issue - mine liked to play his (rather obscure and peculiar) music loud to the baby, which is not what I would perhaps have chosen, but I reminded myself that babies are supposed to like white noise, and left them to it. The baby seemed to really enjoy it.
Thank you for all that advice! I've taken it all on board. I think being non-critical/non-judgemental is going to be key (I'm hardly an expert anyway!!) and I really like the idea of leaving the baby alone with him. I must admit that hadn't occurred to me, but seems totally obvious now!
Thanks everyone xxx
juiceinawineglass has basically said everything I would.
All I'd add is that the fact he's worried shows he cares too much to be like his dad. DH has awful parents, yet he's about as far from them as humanly possible - he's a wonderful, very involved daddy.
He sounds like he's very keen to do a good job - which is an excellent start my DH was a bit like this before DS1 was born. He'd never even changed a nappy before and was very anxious to get things right. Juiceinawineglass has given you some great tips above, and I second those. I always started from the point that DH was as fully competent a parent as I was - I know this sounds a bit mad but a lot of people presume that dads are somehow secondary to mums, and a bit hapless. Plenty of chances to be on his own with baby will help - my DH used to get up with DS1 while I lay in sometimes , and he would change and dress the baby while I slept until it was time for the next breastfeed. Fast forward two years and he's a very confident and devoted parent, and DS1 is a real daddy's boy
I agree with other posters. DH and I are ft parents to a 10week DS. The learning curve for all is steep and fast. The key for us has been communication, open and honest. Even when you feel too tired to even try, talking is the way through.
It sounds like you're doing that already pre baby which is a good sign. Good luck
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