New dad’s survival guide


Be there to enjoy all the highs, knowing that you’re as prepared as possible for this new season...

The journey you and your partner have been on over the past few months has no doubt been a rollercoaster – a full range of emotions and sometimes all in the space of an hour.

During pregnancy and soon after birth many women feel everything from thrilled and excited to overwhelmed, sad and anxious. For many moms these feelings go away with time, but for others they don’t.

As a new dad, how do you navigate your way through these early days of parenthood, getting to know your progeny while supporting your partner as best you can?

First, know that you’re valued

Research shows that women have a better overall pregnancy and birth experience when Dad is involved.

The UK-based organisation Fatherhood Institute has done research into the involvement of fathers at the birth of their offspring, and the evidence published suggests that women place a high value on their partner’s presence and support. It’s directly related to reduced anxiety, less perceived pain and greater satisfaction with the birth experience.

Stay informed

Go with your partner to doctor’s appointments and attend antenatal classes together.

You might baulk at the thought of an evening spent watching DVDs of birth experiences, but meeting and interacting with others at the same point in their journey can be helpful. The more informed you are, the calmer you’ll be when the big day arrives.

“Fathers give children confidence to separate and explore the big, wide world.”

Build for the future

Initially you might feel like a third wheel in the relationship between mother and newborn, but your role develops along with your child.

“Fathers possess a certain magical quality when it comes to helping babies and children develop and grow,” says occupational therapist Roxanne Atkinson.

“While mothers are initially that safe and nourishing space, fathers give children confidence to separate and explore the big, wide world. Statistically, children with involved fathers challenge themselves to learn new skills and come out the other side with a healthy self-esteem.”

Listen and talk

During pregnancy and those first few weeks you have a lot of new experiences to share and whether you’re becoming a parent for the first time, or the third or even fourth, each time is unique. Give your partner space to talk about how she’s feeling and what her concerns are. Chat to her about your excitement and your plans and fears too.

When a new baby brings stress into a relationship, most parents – particularly mothers – appreciate both practical and emotional support.

Jessica Baxter, editor and new mom, describes how her husband pinpoints times of the day when she most needs help and steps in. “To help me in the early days, he took over bath time. This is his special time with his daughter and now his son too. He also stays up to do the 10pm feed so I can get some much-needed extra sleep before the 2am wake-up.”

Perinatal and postnatal depression and anxiety

In a report published by Emory University School of Medicine, where researchers stressed the importance of Dad’s support during these precious early days, they summarised the main symptoms women feel when suffering from depression and anxiety around pregnancy and motherhood:

> Sad or angry without warning
> Foggy
> Robotic
> Very anxious around the baby and other children
> Guilty about these feelings
> Unusually irritable and angry

Stay sensitive to these and be aware of any dramatic changes in behaviour. Your partner might not know that she is suffering from post-natal depression, for example, but she’ll know something is wrong. If you can read the signs, you can get help as soon as it’s required.

Navigate those early days with Discovery Health

Wherever you are on your parenting journey, Discovery Health is there for you. As a member of a scheme administered by Discovery Health, you have access to the best healthcare available, for your partner and your baby. Enjoy quality homecare where necessary and get all the necessary medicine delivered, so that you don’t have to leave the house. Don’t forget to activate your HealthyCare benefit for up to 25% cash back at Clicks and Dis-Chem.

Discovery Health (Pty) Ltd; registration number 1997/013480/07, an authorised financial services provider and administrator of medical schemes.

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