This is the second of a two-part feature. A financial writer at Discovery and father of twins offers honest and tongue-in-cheek advice to expecting and new dads. The article was first published in Men's Health in February 2018.
Right, so baby has arrived - everyone's full of joy, and rightly so. Still, harsh realities of life make demands on you and your partner straight away. Best to get a heads-up about it and start preparing to cope with your new life. Here's what to expect as you adjust to the first three years of having a baby.
Kiss sleep goodnight
Say bye-bye to sleep as you know it. You're going to lose sleep. Nothing to do about that. So work around it. Do life while you feel a bit rough around the edges. Rest when baby rests; once it awakens, you'll be running. Try and grab three or four hours of shut-eye in a row. You may surprise yourself with how much you can still function.
Of course, there'll be days you drive to work and then can't remember if you went through only green lights. You've got two choices: do the occasional 4:00 feed or the midnight one. Take turns with feeding duty through a night, so at least one of you gets a good night's sleep. Speaking of feeding, try and eat a healthy lunch when you get back to work. Heavy meals will just increase those afternoon slumps.
Putting baby to bed
Normal does not exist with babies and their sleep: some sleep 10 hours a day; others twice that. It might settle by around six months. That's when you want to train baby on the difference between night and day. Don't tiptoe around trying to be particularly quiet; let baby get used to it. Don't play at bedtime. Tucking in works.
It can be freaky at first, but you'll soon enjoy it. Make a splash and enjoy messing the bathroom. Get all the ingredients ready before you add baby: soap, towel, clean clothes for baby, and a jug to pour water. Mix cold then warm water; no more than 10 cm. Yes, you test the temp with your elbow. Keep baby's head and back resting on the bend of your elbow. Never leave baby alone in water: they can drown in only a few centimetres of water. Ignore your ringing phone.
After dirty nappy number three, you won't mind. It's not as bad as you may think. Get all the ingredients ready before you change baby: nappy, change mat, bum cream, wipes (put one over the boy's pee before he shares with you!) With girls, wipe from front to back to avoid infection.
That's just what babies do. To get any attention, whether life-threatening or not. Do all you can to meet baby's needs. Sometimes they just carry on crying; accept it.
It's all about baby being a boy or a girl, and not about whether you're getting any. Do you want the bad news or the good news first? Okay, there's no good news. Well, not entirely true. You'll have sex again. One day. Just not like it was, for a while. What did you expect?
If you have more than one baby at a time, ignore all the guidelines and make the best of it to survive! Get help.
Okay, here's help
When an infant depends on you 24/7, it's good to know you can depend on something else for 24/7 support yourself. That's where Discovery Health Medical Scheme's comprehensive maternity benefits come into play.
Activate the My Baby programme to access a digital health record and vaccination card for your baby, as well as an education cost estimator from pre-school to university. Remember, health and education are two of the greatest investments for your family's future. The Global Education Protector from Discovery Life covers the actual cost if your child's education if you or your spouse pass away or suffer a severe illness of disability. If you actively manage your health and wellness, up to 100% of your child's tertiary education will be funded by Discovery.
And if the life-affirming thrill of having an adorable little mini-me has succeeded in making you and your partner forget the horrors of labour (and hence ready for a second round), find a dad's guide to dealing with pregnancyhere.
Transport that precious cargo safely with Discovery Insure
South African roads are dangerous, and you probably bought that high-speed car before knowing that your world would be turned upside down.
Discovery Insure offers your family up to 25% off the purchase of a child car seat from partners like Born Fabulous, Toys R Us and Be Safe. Learn more here.
Save big on baby care products with Vitality HealthyCare
Nappies add up! Get up to 25% back on selected nappies and other baby essentials at Clicks and Dis-Chem with the HealthyCare benefit from Discovery Vitality. Vitality families also earn up to 2 500 points for Well Baby Clinic visits at Clicks or Dis-Chem.
Plus, be inspired by learning how to make healthier lifestyle choices with Vitality and Disney. Complete Vitality health activities as a family, engage in exclusive Disney-inspired content, and you'll stand the chance to win monthly Disney hampers. Find out more here.
Parents will also have 24/7 support, advice and guidance through the My Pregnancy and My Baby options on the Discovery app.
This is the first of a two-part feature, a financial writer at Discovery and father of twins, offers honest and tongue-in-cheek advice to expecting dads. The article was first published in Men's Health in February 2018.
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