What to Do Post-Birth as a Dadby Adam Riches
Telling people what to do post-birth sounds ridiculous. It is really, but so is the concept of a child coming out of a human, so a few tips on how to act after it’s happened can’t hurt (no pun intended!)
What I learnt the first time around when our first boy was born, is that birth is a compilation of multiple hurricanes that come from various directions. As a dad, you aren’t (or at least shouldn’t be) sedated and your experience of things can be exhausting. I mean, you’re not going to be getting any medals, I’m not saying that it's ANYTHING like what your partner experiences actually getting the baby out, but it is tough for dads too.
With this in mind, it is easy to not perform as you think you might (whey) and it’s something that afterwards you might regret. The first time around, I was literally so shellshocked, I forgot so many things and I just wish I’d had my shit together a bit more. Not for any real reason other than I was just so happy and proud and I was completely in awe of my wife...and I didn’t tell her as much as I wish I had. There were things that I look back and wish I’d done… so, here is my not so definitive guide for what dads could, should or may want to do post-birth:
Make a massive fuss and don’t embarrassed
First time round I was literally like a child. I didn’t know if I was coming or going when the baby was born. I should have given my wife the biggest kiss but I was like a rabbit in headlights. Looking back, I know I made a bit of a fuss of her, but with our second boy, I was so much more animated. Both times we had emergency C-sections, zero shame on round 2...I just wish I’d been more open on the first.
Keep an eye on the child
Pushing a baby out or having a baby taken out of you is a serious business and sometimes things don’t go to plan. If the rule book is thrown out of the window, you need to be the communicator. Pay attention and ask questions so you can relay the answers clearly. Your partner will be exhausted and you may need to explain things to them, especially if they are incapacitated and the baby is having some checks.
Get alllll the pictures (with consent)
Like I say, both births were emergencies in the most real sense so the whole idea of photos was the last thing on my mind. The thing is, I got about 5 when our first boy was born and they quite truly encapsulate everything about being a parent. There is one in particular that brings a tear to my eye still (not ideal that it’s in the hallway, I’ve had to put a box of tissues near it). Second time around things were a bit sketchy and the baby was rushed off to neonatal so I didn’t get to take any pictures...but when I was allowed down, those first pictures were just as magical.
Don’t be scared to get involved
Getting your cuddles and skin to skin is so important for you as a dad and for the baby too. It also gives mum a chance to have a rest and know that the baby is still getting love. Coming into the world is a serious business, so take the time to get close to your kiddy. Those newborn feathers soon become a hefty sack of spuds who demand everything they can’t and shouldn’t want. Make the most of their absolute, untampered innocence. It is seriously magical hearing that piglet snuffle in your ear. Nothing else like it.
Be the doorman
You need to make sure that your partner and the baby aren’t bombarded. After battling through labour, it’s unlikely that your partner will want to be battling he mother-0in-law, so make sure you communicate your wishes with people clearly. You are the gatekeeper so make sure that you all want people around post-birth. It is a special time.
Get some practice in.
You are going to be busy with nappies, dressing, putting down, picking up and everything in -between...get used to it, quickly. I’d never held a baby properly until mine was born. You pick it up so naturally. I mean, it’s not like National Geographic where you just sling the baby on your back in some weirdly instinctive way or anything, but you learn fast and the sooner you get involved the better. It’ll give your partner a break and it’ll do your confidence the world of good.
As I say, you will react in the way you see best when your baby is born, but in the haze, try to make sure you don’t forget anything important.