Adjusting to Life as a Parent

Advice for dads, mums, and partners.

Whether it’s your first, second or eighth child, having a new baby is a life changing event in any parent’s life. From day dot, it’s both incredibly joyous and exhausting at the same time so it may take some time to adjust to having a new member in your family.

  • The best way to help your partner is by being caring, considerate and listening to them.
  • It’s an emotional time for all involved – just as your wife, husband or partner can experience a range of emotions postpartum, you might feel up and down too. Try to be patient and kind with yourself and each other.
  • If you have had time off work for the birth, be proactive in ensuring support is organised for the parent staying home to care for the baby when you return, especially if they don’t have other support around.
  • Communication is key. If someone has done something to annoy the other or you’re not feeling okay emotionally, tell each other how you’re feeling so you can work as a team.
  • Having a baby can be stressful. Allow time for everyone to find their new normal, including you.
  • Be prepared for sleep deprivation. Newborn sleep is unpredictable and irregular – babies need to feed frequently so expect multiple wakes during the night. Encourage māmā to sleep when your pēpi is sleeping and, if you can, try to get a nap in for yourself too.
  • If you aren’t the one breastfeeding but your partner is, you may feel a little helpless at times as you aren’t the one who can breastfeed but there are plenty of ways to be fully involved and develop a strong bond with your baby. Even if you work full time, when you’re home you can change their nappy, play with them, give them plenty of cuddles and settle them to sleep while the breastfeeding parent has a break. Many working partners also like to be responsible for bathing their pēpi as it’s their special time together.
  • It may feel like your partner doesn’t have time for you because they’re so busy with the baby which may leave you feeling forgotten or left out. Let them know how you’re feeling and try to schedule some one-on-one time with each other.
  • If it seems like your partner knows a lot and is doing everything for the baby, talk to them about wanting to be more involved.
  • Your loved one is experiencing a lot of hormonal, physical and emotional changes which may mean they’re less affectionate or isn’t interested in having sex right now. Know that this time won’t last forever but she needs your love and support more than ever.
  • If you and the other parent of your pēpi aren’t in a relationship or living together, your baby will still benefit from your love and having you in their life.

If you’re encountering challenges in your relationship and need help from a counsellor, visit govt.nz and search for ‘relationship counselling’ to find a counsellor in your local area.

Kidz Need Dadz is an organisation dedicated to providing support and education to strengthen father-child relationships. Visit kidzneeddadz.org.nz or call 0800 KND 123 (0800 563 123) for more information.

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