It has been a week since our baby boy was born. Being a first time dad has actually gone a little smoother than I expected. I have learned a lot about things I never imagined I would. I'll be honest, I had absolutely no clue what I was getting myself into. I didn't read a single book or do much research on being a first time dad but there are a few things that I learned during the first week that I think can make your life just a little easier.
1) Support your wife
This sounds obvious, but its not as simple as it sounds. Your life has drastically changed, but this is not about you. This is about your newborn and your wife. Your wife has gone through a lot; physically, emotionally and mentally. She is beyond exhausted and has just given birth. She is scared, sore and to top it off, her hormones are changing.
Worry about her and the baby. Be by her side while she is nursing. Learn to change those diapers and step up to the plate when a change is needed so she doesnt need to get out of bed. The nurses are there to help, but you are the one who will be there for her once you leave the hospital.
Your job is to keep her calm, encourage her and dont make her have to ask you to do something...pay attention!
2) Work around the baby's schedule
Don't even think about scheduling time to sleep or workout the first week or so. The first couple of weeks is survival mode. You sleep when the baby sleeps. You feed the baby when he is hungry. Your wife is going to be exceptionally tired especially if the baby is cluster feeding (there will be another post about this soon).
Make sure to take naps when you can. Don't be afraid to have the nurses take the baby to the nursery while in the hospital. This will allow you to get a solid 2-3 hours of sleep before they bring the baby back to feed. Do not feel guilty about this. That is why they have it there.
3) Take the time to learn while in the hospital
Your wife has just gone through so much physical trauma from giving birth, whether it is from c-section or vaginal birth. The nurses and lactation nurses will be telling your wife a lot of information. Pay attention here. This is important information and your wife may not be fully aware of everything being said. Take it upon yourself to be involved in those discussions and learn what the nurse is teaching your wife. Ask questions so that you understand what your wife needs to do.
After we got home from the hospital, I felt like a nursing expert. I was able to help my wife correct certain things to make nursing go much smoother. I would show her how to properly reposition the baby to successfully get him to latch. There are a bunch of little things that you will pick up on that will make your wife pleasantly surprised you were able to help her with!
4) Don't say no to help!
I know that you will think you can do it all yourself or that you don't need help, but take it when you can. If a relative offers to pick up groceries for you, then let them. If your mother-in-law offers to stay with your wife while you run to the gym; do it! It doesn't make you any less of a husband or father by letting people help you. This is something that has always been done when a woman gives birth. Everyone kicks in to make dinners, run errands, etc.
5) Swaddle wraps are a game changer
You will quickly notice in the hospital that your baby will most likely like to be swaddled when he or she sleeps. Learning how to swaddle a newborn sounds simple, but as a new parent you do not always have the technique down. Those little arms will tend to work themselves out quite often until you nail your swaddling technique. When you are up at 3am to change or feed the baby, it adds another wrench into the mix.
Swaddle wraps and sleep sacks are a game changer. We brought one with us but ended up having our family bring more to the hospital. These are a quick and easy way to snuggly wrap your baby in the middle of the night. It also allows for safe sleep and your baby's arms will not startle them.
The hospital may provide one for you, but I would recommend that you pick up 2 or 3 more newborn swaddle wraps. Trust me, your baby will end up messing them somehow; especially boys.
You will be able to pick up one of our swaddle wraps here. These velcro swaddle wraps are perfect for newborns up to 3 months old. We currently have 2 different swaddle designs that include giraffes with elephants and whales with anchors. Also check out Halo SleepSacks as another alternative.
Overall, this is a fun an exciting time for you and your wife. There are many ups and downs that go along with times of doubt and exhaustion. Hang in there because it does get better. Right now, you only have one job and that is to take care of your baby and wife!
If you found this helpful, check out our last post to learn about additional ways to help your wife after she gives birth: