New dads: I know that this gurgling, pooping, screaming new bub is very new territory for you, but spare a thought for the new mother in your life.
She’s likely to be quite overwhelmed – elated, exhausted, sore, filled with love and a little frightened of being responsible for the beautiful new human being they’re cradling. Here are a few tips to help you care for the woman who delivered this little wonder to you.
10. A new mum might be a seething cauldron of hormones.
Don’t be scared. It’s probably only temporary and it’s not her fault. My man was like a rabbit in the headlights three days after our first-born arrived when I dissolved into a tearful wreck but couldn’t tell him why I felt so fearful about all the things that could happen to our gorgeous little girl through her life. I sobbed for two days while he tried to help me solve the unsolvable.
Pregnancy hormones are powerful, and “withdrawing” from those can be intense. I evened out after a few days, but look out because sometimes there’s more to it.
9. Post-natal depression is real.
It’s normal for all new mums (and dads, too!) to feel overwhelmed, or sad, or frustrated when baby won’t sleep, or feed as you had imagined. It’s exhausting. But one in six Australian new mothers suffer post-natal depression.
The symptoms are similar to standard depression and can include changes in appetite, insomnia, feelings of self-harm (or harm to the baby), a fear of going out or being alone with the baby and decreased energy. Talk to your GP or health professional if you’re worried, and go to BeyondBlue for more information. Remember, one in 10 dads can also suffer PND.
8. A new mother can feel anxious or scared.
Your new mum is acutely aware of EVERYTHING that can go wrong. SIDS, sickness, problems with breastfeeding, guilt because breastfeeding hasn’t worked, the chaos that descends on a household when a baby arrives, a lack of sleep. Mum can quickly feel right out of her depth. It’s your job to be there for her, pick up the slack and let her know she’s doing just fine.
7. Stretch marks are a thing because arrrghhh.
It is a simple fact of life, she might feel fat, frumpy, even ugly with newly formed “Tiger-Stripes”. She might retain fluid for ages. Her breasts will leak. Those maternity bras are hideous feats of engineering (hardly sexy). And as a cherry on top, her old clothes may not fit for ages, if ever again. Look, I know you are not one of those guys that fixate on looks but it’s up to you to let her know that you are her rock. Be a good guy and get her some Palmers Massage Lotion For Stretch Marks. I used it religiously and it really did help.
6. Tell mum when it’s time to stop.
A new mum will work ‘til she drops if you let her. There has to come a point where you let her rest. Take care of dinner, send her off for a quiet bath. If you can, help her with night-time feeds. It’s time for you to step up.