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New Dads: What to Expect After Baby Arrives

Learn what's ahead once your baby is born.
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Tired of Being Tired All the Time

You may have pulled all-nighters before, but did you do it night after night? Of all the changes that come with new parenthood, lack of sleep may be one of the hardest.

Before your baby, you took it for granted that you could go to bed at night and sleep till morning. But newborns don't respect their parents' normal schedule: 

  • Newborn babies sleep practically around the clock, but only for about 1 to 2 hours at a time.
  • Babies usually don't start sleeping through the night until they are at least 3 months old.
  • At 3 months, many babies will sleep for stretches of five hours at a time.
  • Normal, healthy babies cry about two hours a day until they are 6 weeks old.

This adds up to a lot of sleep loss for mom and dad.

If your partner breastfeeds solely, you may get to sleep for longer stretches during your baby's first weeks. But you'll also be making middle-of-the-night diaper changes and soothing your baby when he or she is crying but isn't hungry. How to get through it? Remember that this is temporary. Before you know it, your baby will start sleeping more than 2 hours at a time, and you'll all settle into a comfortable routine.

How a Woman Feels the First Weeks at Home

There's no doubt that childbirth affects women both emotionally and physically. The first few weeks especially your partner needs your support and understanding. To help you negotiate the early days of fatherhood, it helps to understand some of the changes your mate is experiencing.

Physical changes. Your partner will probably feel a bit fragile after the rigors of childbirth. Whether she gave birth by C-section or vaginally, she will be sore. Recovery from C-section requires that she limit her activity for a few weeks. If she delivered vaginally, she may have some bleeding and vaginal discharge for several weeks, longer if she had a vaginal tear. She may have painful urination or involuntary leakage of urine, called urinary incontinence. On top of all that she may have problems with constipation or hemorrhoids from the strain of delivery. It's enough to shorten anyone's fuse.

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