Adjusting to life with a new baby
Having a baby completely changes your life, and those first few months can be a real shock to the system.
Here are some tips that might help:
- know it’s ok to find it tough - most people do.
- head along to antenatal and parenting classes with your partner. Plunket does some good ones. Knowing what to expect during labour and birth and in those first few weeks of life, can make a huge difference. You might even make some new dad friends.
- trust you’ll learn ‘on the job’. Changing nappies, bathing baby, settling your little one to sleep … having kids is a huge learning curve, and it’s normal to feel out of your depth. It may not seem like it yet – but you’ll soon be a pro at using that car seat!
- have some time to yourself – and make sure your partner does the same. It’s important you can still have time to do things you enjoy, like seeing friends or playing sport. It might just be less time than you’re used to. Take turns with your partner, so you both have a chance to recharge your batteries.
- talk about stuff.
- The big stuff: Worried about money? Struggling with memories from your own childhood? Stressed out you don’t know what you’re doing? Talk to your partner, or to a mate or whānau member you trust. Don’t keep that kind of stuff bottled up.
- And the regular stuff: It helps to have other dads around you that you can chat ‘dad stuff’ with. This could be your own dad, uncles or dad mates – or online communities or local groups (Plunket does some).
- look after your body. You’ll feel better physically and mentally when you fuel your body with good fresh food (try to get your 5+ a day, and limit fried and sugary food) and water. It’s also good to try and get active and push play for 30mins a day.
- Bonus tip: Why not head out for a walk around the block with baby in the front-pack or pram. You’ll get some fresh air and a chance to stretch your legs, your partner can have a nap or some time to themselves, and you might even be able to convince baby to have a nap. Win. Win. Win.
- mindfulness (be chill and present). Take some nice big breaths (breathe in through your nose for 1, 2, 3 and then breathe out through your mouth for 1, 2, 3, 4) and just be in the moment with your baby. It's relaxing, and really helpful if you’re feeling anxious or stressed. If you’re an app kind of guy, Smiling Mind could be worth a try.
- get some sleep – when you can. If you have a newborn, chances are you’re not getting much sleep. Have a go at some day-naps while your baby’s asleep or going to bed earlier than you would normally. Getting as much shut-eye as you can really helps with your energy and sanity levels.
Check out the free mindfulness app, Smiling Mind.
Not feeling like yourself?
If you’re feeling down, overwhelmed, anxious or just not like yourself – talk to someone.
Your partner, the boys, a trusted whānau member, your GP or helplines like 1737 (text or call) – New Zealand’s free, 24/7 counselling service.
Check out our page on mental health for dads to have a read through the warning signs to look out for, and what you can do to get back on track to feeling like yourself.