The first month after mom has the baby can feel like a both beautiful and chaotic time. Transitioning to motherhood is hard, and having a baby doesn't just change mom. Her relationship with dad will also change, sometimes for the better and sometimes not.
Dad will also be going through changes of his own, and though he may have a lot on his mind, he won't always express the feelings he's experiencing. He may even think he's told mom important things about his life and his emotions the first month of the baby's life, but sleep deprivation can play tricks on anybody. A lot can go unsaid that first 30 days because of the screams of baby cries and the zombie feeling of not enough rest.
There are things all dads want to say to mom, but some they don't to avoid appearing vulnerable. Other times they just don't get around to telling her what a good job she is doing, or they just assume she knows. In case life gets stressful and dad doesn't utter every phrase he wants to in those early days, here is a list of common thoughts dad has the first month after becoming a father.
It's normal for both parents to be excited, but having a child can also cause worry. Moms often feel anxiety due to the huge about of love for their babies and worries of what bad things could happen to their children. Dads feel this as well.
The love a father feels for a child can be a lot to handle, and with it come worries that dad won't be able to provide for or protect his offspring. It's often hard for dads to admit that they are dealing with worry, but letting mom know can help. Mom and dad can reassure each other through this exciting, new, and petrifying time.
Most dads want to help when the baby comes along, but they may feel they are being burned every time they try. Babies tend to gravitate towards mom in the beginning, so mom learns how to soothe and care for the baby very early. Mom may pick dad's approaches to soothing or assisting apart because he doesn't do it just like mom, and this can leave dad wondering what he can do.
Dad does want to help, and he doesn't have to do everything like mom to get the job done. As long as the baby is safe and happy, let dad take care of the little one without correcting or interfering.
It may sound like dad is being selfish, but when the baby comes along he may feel pushed aside. Mom's attention goes to her child, and this is completely normal. However, it can leave dad missing mom's affection, attention, and time.
Mom does not have to try to be a super woman and meet everyone's needs, but it's good to keep in mind that dad misses her companionship and prioritizing the relationship is worth it. It's not easy, and dad needs to be willing to do the work to make it happen as well. Things will level out as the baby ages, but it takes work to prioritize the relationship during the baby phase.
Mom may want her partner to empathize with her, and that is normal. However, if a man is truly honest, he will admit that he doesn't know how mom feels after birth. Sure, he knows she is recovering, but he can't fully contemplate what that feels like and how hormonal shifts can make those early days both a blessing and a challenge.
Many times dad won't admit this because he doesn't want to sound out of touch or like he doesn't care. He wants to be there for his wife, so it's hard to admit that there is no way he can fully understand her situation.
Women aren't the only ones who deal with an array of emotions after the baby arrives. Dads can experience post-natal depression, and even those who don't go through something that severe still find themselves feeling more emotional than normal.
Dad may feel anxious because of all the bad things that could happen, or he may feel anger because of how much life has changed. Just like mom, he can have all these emotions and still love his baby. Having a child is such a major transition that it's normal for both parents to feel out of sorts for a while.
In today's world, it's possible that dad will be the one on diaper duty who stays home with the little one while mom goes back to work. However, if he's not then going back to work may be a challenge for him. Dad will miss mom and the baby and will likely worry during the hours he is gone.
Women aren't the only ones who feel the pull to be near their offspring. Though dads are painted as the ones who are ready to leave the house and let mom handle parenting, many fathers miss being home and wish they could be bigger parts of their children's lives.
Okay, so dad does want to be home with his family, but he's not crazy enough to forget to be grateful for the time away. Any decent dad knows that being home with a child all day as the primary care giver is exhausting, emotionally draining work. He likely misses mom and the baby and is still okay with getting a breather.
In fact, many women decide going back to work is the best choice for them. They want to build their careers and can find reliable daycare. Mom and dad will likely both miss their little one, but they will also be grateful for time with other adults.
Some dads really have no clue. They may want to help but worry they are doing everything wrong. They may walk into a room where a thousand chores need to be completed and really not see what is obvious to moms. They need help, and that help may simply be telling them what to do and how.
Many men chip in happily when given a task and directions. There are dads who won't jump in out of fear of failure or correction from mom, and this leaves mom feeling like there is no way to get help. Mom should simply start giving directions and passing out tasks so dad can do the right job, the right way.
With awareness rising about how many hours moms work at parenting and how stressful that job is, dads are getting better at checking in on us to see how we're doing. However, sometimes we forget to check in on them. We assume that because they aren't recovering from birth, nursing a baby, and dealing with every cry that their days aren't challenging. While it's true we may not see their days as being as challenging as hours, they can still be hard.
Dads want permission to vent about stressful days without feeling guilty because they weren't the ones home parenting. They can still have setbacks, failures, and anxiety about work or other aspects of life, and that's okay.
Mom may not yet be used to her post-baby body, but that doesn't mean dad's not digging it. Mom will usually be harder on herself than anyone else, and this can lead her to think her partner can't possibly find her attractive. This isn't true.
Even in those very early days, dads want to tell their ladies that they are lovely. Despite the body changes, men are still attracted to their partners and want them to know that. They may be afraid to utter the phrase, "You're beautiful" in case it causes an argument. That doesn't mean they aren't thinking it.
For the dad who hopes to be the best at the parenting thing right off the bat, admitting that he doesn't really know what he's doing can be hard. It's especially difficult for guys who don't want to put extra stress on moms by admitting that they need help with basics, like how to feed and dress babies.
Without being condescending, it's okay to lend a hand and learn together when dad is struggling. It will make him feel okay about not knowing everything and it will build a team mentality between mom and dad. Mom can teach him and learn herself, and hopefully dad will get better at admitting when he feels like he's in too deep and needs assistance.
It will be a while before mom and dad get close after the baby because mom needs to heal. Plus, sleep deprivation can put a damper on everything else, including a relationship. However, dad will likely be worrying about the pain factor for mom way before the actual connection takes place.
It's hard for a man to know what mom's body went through and what she is going to want post-birth, and many men are scared of how they will affect their wives when they get close. This may be why mom's partner is hesitant to get too physical.
There is no tired like having an infant tired. Everyone knows mom experiences the worst of the late-night feedings and wake ups due to breastfeeding and the fact that the baby will want to stay close to mom. However, dad is likely exhausted in those early days as well. He may be afraid to speak about how tired he is because he knows he does not have the worst of it.
Mom and dad need to work together to ensure they both get enough rest to stay sane and emotionally stable. If family and friends offer to help, take the help. Everything is easier when the parents are rested, and relationships are much richer when both people are allowed an adequate amount of rest.
As mom flourishes in her mothering role, dad may feel pushed to the side and not needed. This isn't true, but a father may see the attachment between mom and the baby and feel completely left out. He may withdraw or feel his help isn't necessary, making mom wonder why he isn't more involved.
There are men who are open about these feelings, but there are plenty who are afraid to admit that they don't know what to do or where they belong anymore. They may present as distant, depressed, or irritable. Not feeling needed can leave them in the midst of a crisis, but talking about it can help if they try.
Some people are better at giving verbal praise while others struggle. They may assume their actions or lack of complaints signal satisfaction, but new moms often need someone to tell them they are doing a good job. Dad is thinking it, even if he isn't great at emoting.
Dads see their partners with their children, and they impressed by mothers' abilities to take care of their children. Sometimes dad will even assume he has told mom how proud he is of her, but the thought simply stayed in his head instead of coming out so mom could enjoy it. Remember, he is still impressed.
Mom often worries about the state of the house and has trouble dealing with the dishes and laundry being in disarray. She may choose to focus any time when she isn't holding or feeding the baby to household tasks, even skipping time with her husband to try to keep the house tidy. This is usually a mistake.
Most men would rather have a messy house than a new mom stressed about keeping up with everything. If the undone chores are bothering dad too much, he can always do them himself while mom recovers from birth and takes care of the baby.
Parenting is hard. All of us are trying not to make the mistakes our parents did while also taking what we can from our childhoods to figure out this parenting thing. Dad is no different in this area. He doesn't know how to be the perfect dad, but he may feel the need to fake it so no one else will know how insecure he is.
When mom and dad can both share what they are going through, including their fears, failures, and worries, then it's easier for both of them to make it through those challenging first days. Parenting is a journey, and much of the learning happens along the way.
Though the role of fathers is seen as more important than ever, dads still often get treated like the help instead of the parent. Strangers, friends, and family members are often impressed when dad knows how to do the smallest thing, like change a diaper or warm a bottle. Dads are often even commended for babysitting their own children.
Most dads don't want to be called babysitters. They want to be seen as a vital part of their children's lives, not just an extra person around for when mom needs a break. It can often be hard to express this when everyone is just so proud of dad for mastering the very basics.
This is a hard phrase to utter no matter what. If dad said marriage wasn't what he expected, mom would likely be pretty offended, assuming this was a negative comment. That's why so many dads are reluctant to utter this phrase about parenting.
This isn't particularly a negative sentiment or a sign that dad doesn't love being a parent. It's just hard to know what to expect when a baby enters the picture, and dad may find that he is surprised at all the changes he's going through due to a tiny little person who melts his heart. Mom usually feels the same way.
Dad doesn't want to watch mom beat herself up as a new parent. He will likely tell her to give herself some grace, but if he doesn't say it, he will most certainly be thinking it. Mom may blame herself for everything or worry about not doing everything perfectly. We are often our worst critics. Dad will want mom to back off on the self-criticism and focus on all the amazing ways she's being a great mom.
When mom is kinder to herself, it tends to make her relationships with others much easier as well. Dad wants mom to be happy and proud of all she's doing, and most fathers will remind their partners of how amazing they are.
Sources: TheBump.com, GoodMenProject.com, Observer.com