New Dads: What to Expect After Baby Arrives
Learn what's ahead once your baby is born.
Matthew Brennan, MD
You know that becoming a dad will change your life. What you can't know is how, and in what ways.
Nothing can fully prepare you for the joys and challenges of parenthood. But learning what to expect now may reduce the number of big surprises ahead. Here's a preview of how your newborn may change your relationship with your partner, your self-image, your sleep, and your sex life -- before the big day arrives.
And Baby Makes Three
Before your baby, you and your partner had more time for each other's needs and mutual enjoyment. Having a baby changes your priorities and gives you less spontaneity and control over your lives. Once you become parents, it's all too easy to get lost in your new roles as mom and dad. Remember that you were a couple first. Instead of viewing your baby as the center of your world, think of your baby's arrival as an event that enhances your life with your mate. Keep these things in mind as you ease into parenthood:
- Make your relationship with your mate a priority. Many experts suggest that you and your partner spend some time together -- just the two of you -- every week or so. Sometimes that may be just sharing a cup of coffee or taking a trip to the grocery store together.
- Agree with your mate to give each other "me" time. Most new moms -- especially if they have other kids at home -- truly benefit from having some time each week to take a walk, read a book, or just sit in peace.
- Don't keep a tally of whose turn it is to do baby's diapers or chores around the house. Instead, pitch in whenever needed.
Becoming a Father
Both men and women face similar issues when becoming new parents, but men tend to focus more on financial-related responsibilities -- wills, college savings, issues related to the costs of raising a child -- and that can create some unique anxiety and stress.
Research shows that many men have conflicting feelings as they take on the role, and the identity, of a father.
- The pride and joy of becoming a dad can be mixed with anxiety about losing personal independence.
- Men may feel powerless over their new circumstances.
- First-time dads may struggle to balance new parenting responsibilities with work and career goals.
- Remember that you're not alone in your doubts and fears. It's normal to have mixed emotions, so try not to feel guilty about it. Talking with your partner can help you both air your feelings about the big life changes ahead.
Making Time for Mom and Baby
As a new father, balancing your roles as parent, partner, and (possibly) bread-winner is tough. You suddenly have a lot more to do and a lot less time to do it in. These tips can help you learn how to handle it.