Shaken Baby Syndrome

A large number of child deaths are reported in South Africa each year. A lot of deaths relate to neglect, abuse or murder. Despite this, there's a knowledge gap in relation to understanding the issue....

Amniotic fluid problems

The importance of amniotic fluid Amniotic fluid is essential for pregnancy and foetal development. Amniotic fluid is a watery substances residing inside a casing called the amniotic membrane or sac. ...

Choosing a pre-school

Becoming a parent is a momentous; life-changing event filled with hopes, expectations and naturally some fears. Parents often learn and grow alongside their children, as they face the challenges of pa...

Newborn reflexes

Although newborn babies are physically helpless and vulnerable at birth, they have a number of amazing innate abilities or reflexes. Reflexes are involuntary movements or actions, designed to protect ...

Mastitis

Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast that can lead to infection. The word “mastitis” is derived from the Greek word “mastos” meaning “breasts”, while the suffix “-itis” denotes “inflammation”. Ma...

Pelvic floor exercises

Although your new baby will probably bring you immense emotional satisfaction, physically you may feel uncomfortable and strange in your own skin. After 9 months of pregnancy and hormonal changes, you...

Colic

Babies cry because they need to communicate something and most parents, especially new moms, find it distressing to see or hear an unhappy baby. In time, you will learn to recognize the various causes...

Antenatal Classes

Antenatal classes are informative sessions provided to prepare expecting parents for the birth of their child and the early days of being a parent.Most antenatal classes are run by Midwives and occasi...

Strap-in-the-Future

The Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 was launched on the 11 May 2011. It is a global declaration of war against road crashes and fatalities. According to Mr Sibusiso Ndebele, MP Minister of ...

  • Shaken Baby Syndrome

    Tuesday, 21 July 2015 16:28
  • Amniotic fluid problems

    Thursday, 14 May 2015 12:54
  • Choosing a pre-school

    Friday, 10 April 2015 17:50
  • Newborn reflexes

    Tuesday, 03 March 2015 15:49
  • Mastitis

    Tuesday, 03 March 2015 15:41
  • Pelvic floor exercises

    Wednesday, 11 February 2015 17:20
  • Colic

    Wednesday, 11 February 2015 17:11
  • Antenatal Classes

    Monday, 03 June 2013 09:34
  • Strap-in-the-Future

    Thursday, 30 June 2011 13:52

It's OK for new dads to feel...

dad_babyThere is a moment in every new father’s life when he realizes that he is a dad, that his life is irrevocably changed and that there are new pressures, responsibilities and expectations to live up to.

What you might feel…

Conflicting emotions
On the one hand, some new dads feel a sense of virility, power and pride at having created new life. On the other, are the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness when you can’t understand or satisfy some of your baby’s needs. These confusing emotions are likely to be magnified by relationship changes and sleep deprivation. Remember that it is normal to feel clumsy and clueless around a newborn, especially when men have a need to protect but are not built for activities like breastfeeding. In the early days, it is natural to feel overwhelmed and perhaps wonder which cry means hungry, tired, hot, cold, in need of changing or a cuddle…. With unlimited patience and time (and probably a lot less sleep) you will learn your baby’s signals, how to nurture them and how to meet their basic needs.

Love
Having a child will also teach you the meaning of a new and different kind of love. As mammals we are hardwired to love and care for one another. Neuroscience has shown that parent-child interactions bring about changes in their limbic systems, whereby they actually resonate and adjust to one another. This means that over time, through the emotional centers of your brains, you and your baby will become attuned to one another’s presence.

Ambivalence
Ambivalence is a normal part of being a dad, and you will probably experience this emotion several times in the future. Fathers of newborns may vacillate between feeling intense love for their child and passion for their new life, to feel unsure about their child, their new role; and instead of wanting to brag to the world, they want to get away from it all. It is very probable that this will be followed by intense guilt. Contradictory emotions are natural and do not mean you are a bad parent; they just mean you are a human one.

Depression
New fathers aren’t immune to postpartum variety blues and some of the triggers for new moms apply to dads too. This may include feeling overwhelmed and unprepared, to being endlessly exhausted, to anxiety over shifting family dynamics and adjusting to lifestyle changes. Although it is clichéd, one of nature’s best healers is time. As you become more comfortable with your new life and its accompanying changes, you will become happier and more content. Exercise is also a natural mood enhancer. Communicate with your partner and be open about your feelings. Talk to other dads, who can relate to how you feel. If the blues persist, or your feelings of depression deepen and begin impacting on your work, relationships, eating and sleeping patterns, be sure to seek professional help.

Fear
In the transition from lad to dad, it is common to experience many fears: that you will not be able to live up to the expectations of what it means to be a father, that you might not be able to protect and provide for your family, that the parenting skills you’ve learnt somehow seem inadequate, that you are too much or too little like your own father, or that you’ve made a horrible mistake. Most men want to be good fathers, but the idea of taking care of a newborn can be terrifying too. Learn from and observe others, read books, ask for help, trust your instincts and before you know it, you will be fathering naturally.

Unfair burden
It may seem difficult to fulfill all the roles that are required of you as a new father, especially if you have worked a long day and your partner then expects you to be a hands-on dad during the week. Your routine of coming home and relaxing after a busy day; has possibly been replaced by changing nappies, feeding, bathing and spending time with your baby. Although your work hours are limited, being a parent is a full time job and responsibility. Some men may feel resentment towards their partners who stay home as full-time moms. Bear in mind that her daytime work is possibly as physically and emotionally stressful as yours, often without the option of tea breaks, lunch hours, or even bathroom breaks. Although caring for your baby is not always easy, especially if you are tired, it provides the opportunity to build a collection of moments to remember, forget your workday cares, and soon the rewards will begin to replace the stresses. At first it may be a smile or gurgle intended just for you, then the magical words “da-da” or your toddler rushing to meet you at the front door. Of course, both you and your spouse will need breaks from childcare. Make a date night and spend quality time together as a couple.

What you can do…

Time and tolerance
Be kind to and gentle with yourself as you ease into the role of dad. The most important thing you can do is spend time with your newborn and this applies throughout the childhood years. Make time with your family a priority. When you look back, you won’t regret not working more hours but you might regret not having spent enough time with your children and missing their major milestones. Allow some time for learning, experimentation and mutual tolerance.

Eye contact
Although your baby’s vision may not be fully developed yet, he enjoys looking at things and visual stimulation is one of your child’s most important avenues to learning. Since most young babies, love studying the human face, offer them yours on a regular basis. Some computer-enhanced research suggests that baby has a particular preference for the eyes. Remember that your baby will be farsighted for several months and has difficulties with depth perception. Be sure to stay close, smile and look your little one directly in the eye.

Movement
When your baby first comes home from the hospital, you may be in awe of this tiny little being and fearful of hurting him or her. Babies are generally responsive to touch and love motion. When you hold your child, you give them a sense of safety and security. Babies love to be held, jostled, bounced and jiggled because movement has an impact on various aspects of development, including brain maturation and co-ordination. Your baby’s need for motion and your possible need to get out the house can be fulfilled simultaneously. Take advantage of your baby’s portability, especially before they start walking and crawling. An outing in the car or pram, gives them the movement they crave, provides the stimulation of new environments, possibly gives you extra attention, and is an adventure you can share with your child.

The power of touch
Another way in which to bond with your child and have a positive effect on their health, well-being and development is to give them a massage. Therapeutic massage has several physical and emotional benefits; such as possibly strengthening the immune system, improving muscle development, stimulating growth; easing colic, teething pain and digestive problems; encouraging better sleeping patterns; stimulating the circulatory and respiratory systems; and reducing stress hormones. Engaging in loving touch is mutually beneficial. Fathers who learn how to soothe their babies through touch; experienced a decrease in their own stress levels, felt an increased self-esteem as parents, and established warm, positive relationships with their newborns that continue into childhood.

Play
Fathers play an integral role in their child’s development. Research has shown that fathers who play with their children in a sensitive, supportive and challenging way; are more likely to form lasting, meaningful relationships with their children. This involves talking to your baby at their level, encouraging instead of criticizing and initiating games that are child-friendly and in accordance with their developmental level. The quality of the time you spend with your baby, significantly affects their emotional and social well-being. Children, who have a strong, positive attachment bond with their fathers by age 5, are more likely to be confident and socially successful at school.

Take time out
There will be moments where you feel overwhelmed and possibly angry- you haven’t slept, your partner is grumpy, the baby is crying, the phone is ringing, and… Step outside, take a few deep breaths, get some perspective and re-enter the fray. Join a father’s group or have a “boys’ night out”. Talk to other new dads about their experiences and gain a better understanding of yours.

Be supportive of and loving towards your partner
Recovering from labour and delivery can be difficult both physically and emotionally, and hormones continue to fluctuate during the postpartum period. Be extra patient and understanding of your spouse. While bonding with your baby should be your priority, make time to nurture your spouse. This may include pampering her when you are at home, sending her messages when you are at work to show that you are available, or organizing a surprise. Essentially make time for and communicate with one another.

Take care of you
A healthy, happy dad is one of the best gifts you can give to your child.

Listen to your intuition
Although knowledge is power and you should try to listen to the advice of others, read books about parenting, and consult the relevant experts; essentially you are the authority on your child. No one will know your baby as well as you and your spouse do.

Enjoy being dad
Children grow, develop and change so quickly. The tiny newborn you were possibly scared to hold soon becomes the baby who recognizes your face and gives you that smile. And in a moment, the little being that crawled can now run. It seemed like yesterday, when your baby first said your name and today is your toddler’s first day of play school. Take the time to bond with your baby and be available as a dad, so that when you look back, you will have an entire “album” of memories rather than a sense of lost time.

References
Murkoff, H., Eisenberg, A. & Hathaway, S. (2004). What to expect: the first year. Simon & Schuster: Sydney.

http://www.babycentre.co.uk

http://babycentre.com

http://www.goodreads.com

http://www.webmd.boots/

http://www.psychcentral.com/