During our first few nights together after coming home from the hospital, I remember hearing Hannah’s jarring screams and seeing the fatigue on Daphnie’s face. The baby wouldn’t latch, and Daphnie wasn’t producing enough milk, which left her feeling despondent and inadequate. She would tell me to stay in bed during those 3 A.M. feedings as she’d either try to give the baby a bottle, or pump – or both – but it was important to me to play an active role.
There are plenty of things us dads can do to help ease the burden. Here are a few tips to help get you through (and even enjoy) this wonderfully challenging time:
1) You don’t have to feed the baby to help with feeding the baby!
Whether your child is breastfed, formula fed, or a combination like Hannah, there is no doubt that an endless string of bottles and pump parts is lying around your house. Help keep all of the supplies clean and organized so mom doesn’t have to.
2) Take a shot at meal prep.
I cannot express how much simpler life with a newborn is when your meals are already taken care of. Making a handful of meals in advance for you and mom to grab on the go is a huge timesaver. High-protein foods, veggies and whole grains are ideal for breastfeeding mothers. If you have the energy to make meals from scratch after putting your baby to bed, then you, sir, are my hero.
3) Maintain the “Go Bag.”
Daphnie and I try to take Hannah out for fresh air as often as possible, even though it seems to take us forever to get out of the house. As we’ve learned from experience, you will be walking (or driving) through a minefield if you don’t have the right supplies on hand. I learned the hard way to restock the diaper bag as soon as we get home so we’re ready for the next adventure. This always scores me major dad points!
4) Bath time should be a team effort.
Bathing a finicky infant is not easy. Once you get past the stage where wiping your LO down with a damp cloth is no longer sufficient, you may encounter a mix of thrashing and crying as your baby adjusts to an actual soaking. I’ve really enjoyed these moments with Daphnie and Hannah because it’s not just about providing an extra set of hands. Bath time is an opportunity to practice keeping our babies calm and entertained the old-fashioned way. Teaming up allows us to take turns focusing on maintaining eye contact, smiling, and singing softly to Hannah when she’s feeling a bit out of sorts. (P.S. Hannah much prefers Daphnie’s voice to mine).
5) Words of encouragement never get old.
Once you’ve seen the mother of your child go through pregnancy, labor, and delivery, it’s hard not to have an even greater appreciation for her. Don’t forget to remind her that you know what she’s done (and continues to do) is hard work, and that you’re there for her.
No matter how your baby is developing and getting nourishment, mom is facing many challenges that only she can truly understand, and there are some amazing products and resources available to help support the woman you love every step of the way.