Six weeks ago, my brother and sister in law had their first baby. Because my husband and I have gone through one labor and we have one baby– we are clearly experts, so I put together some helpful tips for my brother to use as he adjusted. I decided, again, because I am clearly the next, best parenting expert that I’d modify the list to share with any other expecting parents. You are welcome and can send both monetary gifts to show your extreme gratitude at the wisdom I have freely given. (If you can’t understand the sarcasm here, please read another blog. We obviously are not a good fit, and we should break up- really it’s me, not you).
Expecting for Daddy: An early shower gift for you! My best advice for being a new parent (based on things I wish we had known and ways we screwed up)
1. Expect to cry
2. Expect to feel suddenly very small and helpless
- Expect that you will not know what to do
4. Expect to see your wife as a superhuman
5. Expect to fall in love with a stranger
6. Expect everyone in the near family to want to visit and hold your baby
- Expect that you will again have to be the voice of reason
8. Expect to panic
9. Expect that people will help you in ways you didn’t know you needed help
10. Expect to feel a while different awe about Christ’s sacrifice
Labor and Delivery Tips:
- Install the car seat way before the due date. Know how it works.
2. Pack your own delivery bag.
Include the following: toothbrush, tooth paste, deodorant, clean tee shirt,a sweat shirt, snacks for you (you do not eat these in front of her) , cash (ones for vending machines and parking) , maybe a small gift for your wife to give her after she does the hardest thing in her life.
3. Make sure you both eat before you go to the hospital (if it is at all possible). Momma especially because they won’t let her eat again till baby is born.
4. Pre register at the hospital. It saves time.
5. Your job is to be the calm hand to hold. If she is yelling, you stay calm. If she is calm, encourage her. If she tells you to get away from her, take two steps back, but stay by her side. Women are primal during labor, don’t take it personally-it’s not about you, it’s about the person they are forcing thru a very sensitive body part.
- If Momma wants to do a natural delivery, support her. Do not bring up drugs. If a nurse suggests something Momma doesn’t want, be her polite voice.
7. If Momma changes her mind and wants drugs, support her.
8. The following statements are wonderful for a laboring mother to hear:
“You are strong.”
“You can do this.”
“I am right here with you.”
“I am so proud of you”.
9. Labor is a physical marathon for both of you. If you get a chance, rest before delivery. Limit the people in the room, Momma doesn’t need to socialize, she needs to rest and focus. You do too. You can and should eat, but not in front of her. Have another support person stay w her while you step out. Do not leave once she hits 8cm. She needs you.
10. Do not drink alcohol during her last month of pregnancy, she could deliver at any time-she needs you to be 100% with her, as her support, as her driver, as her husband. Help her feel your support by your availability.
What a New born and a new parent needs:
New born needs:
1. Breast milk: Momma wants to breast feed; she can breast feed. If she is struggling, you ask to see the lactation consultant (you are paying for the service, might as well use it). Refuse to separate momma and baby.
2. Baby needs skin to skin time with both momma and daddy
3. Baby needs clean diapers
4. Baby needs to rest (so do you two)
5. Baby needs held.
6. Baby needs momma and daddy . Baby does not need manhandled by every person who wants to hold her.
- Baby needs safe car seat and safe sleeping area
8. Baby needs a bath (maybe once a week at first. They don’t get really dirty).
That’s really it. For those first few weeks, baby is very direct.
1. Her baby. Keeping momma and baby together, touching, benefits both of them.
2. Recovery time. She may have stitches. She needs to rest and cuddle and feed baby. Nothing else.
4. To nurse every time baby cries/ signals. Breast feeding is scary for a new mom, you can support her by encouraging her every second.
5. Momma may need some time off to breathe. Suggest she take a shower, take a nap, take a nap; anything is fine because you are daddy and you got this!
6. Good food: this is a great way to include all those people who say they want to help. Ask people to make dinner, go grocery shopping, etc ..
7. Clean clothes/house. Again, ask people for help.
8. Freedom to focus on this transition and heal herself (translation: don’t bring up sex. She is wounded. Sex is literally the scariest thing she can imagine right now. Let her bring up sex).
10. Time with you! Hold her, hold her hand, cuddle her while she feeds baby. She needs you!
What you need:
1. Believe that God sent your specific baby to you for a reason. You are her best Daddy. Even when you mess up ( you will, sometime). Trust yourself.
- A beer. Maybe two. Not to get drunk or even buzzed, but to take the edge off
3. To bond with your child. Change her diapers, give her baths, walk her around in your arms, play her lullabies on your guitar. You will both love it.
4. Help. Accept all offers of help. Don’t be afraid to ask for the specific help that will most benefit you all.
5. Sleep. Nap when baby naps.
6. Faith. And Jesus.
7. Maybe some time out. Maybe a date with your wife. That’s all fine.
- Instinct, trust yours.
9. To know that even if your wife is moody, snappy, or seems 100% about your daughter, she still loves you so so much.
10. You need support too. Reach out and let people help. Parenting isn’t an individual sport; it’s a team event. Your primary team is you and your wife. Secondary team is grandparents, aunts, uncles, good friends, your doctor- anyone you trust. You don’t get more “points” for doing it all alone. The goal is to create and love your family ; sometimes, that means the three of you handle it alone- other times, you call in reinforcements.
Lastly, there is no right or wrong way to do this as long as you are fully motivated by love.
“Let all that you do be done in love” (I Corinthians 16:14)