After childbirth, the most important thing the new dad can do is to support the spouse as as much as possible. Childbirth is a stressful and challenging experience for a woman and she will need all your support and love to travel the next phase of motherhood.
The first few months can be a stressful experience for both of you as you recognize the demands and needs of a new born. The best way forward is to work together and support each other as much as possible. So, here are few tips for new dad’s that will help you lend a helping hand to the new mum and enjoy the new phase together:
1. Changing baby diaper: By now, you must be quite aware of how to change a nappy. It is not that difficult or an unpleasant experience. But , here are some important tips that you need to know:
• Make sure your hands are clean, even though you are going to change a messy nappy.
• Try to wipe the area covered by nappy with warm water and cotton wool or wet wipes
• For girl baby, always wipe from front to back to prevent Urinary tract infections.
• For boys- never pull back his foreskin while cleaning, at this point of time.
• If washing the bottom, never rub too vigorously to dry. Always pat dry with a soft cloth, tissue or cotton wool to prevent nappy rash.
• You can apply cream to prevent nappy rash, if you wish. Make sure it is specifically made to prevent nappy rash and apply gently.
• Try and give some nappy free time to the baby and have a nice cuddle and play.
• After you put the nappy back, don’t forget to wash your hands and now you can have a nice cup of tea/coffee.
2. Bathing the baby: Bathing the baby or helping is a great time to have some fun with the baby and the mum also gets a break to rest up. This is not about how to bathe a baby but what you need to be careful about if you are helping bathe the baby:
• Make sure you have enough time at hand. You wouldn’t want to be interrupted by phone calls, doorbells etc.
• Make sure you and your baby is nicely fed and happy. We don’t need a grumpy and hungry dad helping a tired and hungry baby.
• Always test the temperature of the water by dipping your elbow or hand. It should be only lukewarm and comfortable.
• Never leave the baby alone in the bathing tub. Babies can drown in few inches of water.
• Start with a little sprinkle of water before using the mug. Let the baby enjoy the sensation of water.
• If baby is happy, no harm in giving a little bit of play time.
• After bath, keep the area of umbilical cord clean and dry. Use the medication given by the doctor. If you notice bleeding or discharge, talk to your doctor.
• If you are nor bathing your baby every day, wash the face, neck with special attention to the creases under the neck, hands and bottom
• After the bath, help the mum dress the baby and a big hug….
3. Helping a crying baby: Babies cry a lot and especially in the first three months. They cry due to various reasons like hunger, tired, bored or when they are uncomfortable or sick. If you have taken care of the obvious things like feeding, changing the nappy, making the baby comfortable and still the baby does not settle, here are few tips:
• Gently rock the baby. The swaying motion helps to settle the baby.
• Talk to the baby. They like the soothing voice
• Sing to the baby or play a nursery rhyme or some gentle music.
• Take the baby for a walk or a short drive. The gentle motion might help to settle the baby.
• Never ever shake a baby vigorously. This can lead to serious brain damage.
• Don’t get angry or shout at the baby. This will only make things worse.
• Take a break and let others help you. You will be more patient and ready if you are relaxed and happy.
4. When to go to Emergency or call your doctor: Once you have a baby, you might have to visit the doctor more often, as your baby’s immune system is still maturing. However, there are certain conditions, when it is imperative that you rush your baby to the Emergency :
• Shows signs of fit or seizures like jerky movements, eyes rolling back etc. It is important to understand that seizures need not be always accompanied by fever.
• Baby turning pale or blue or having difficulty in breathing or stops breathing.
• Drowsy, unconscious or hard to wake up.
• Swollen fontanelles ( soft spot on baby’s head), with fever, unusual crying, floppiness etc
• Head injury due to fall, accompanied with vomiting or bleeding or loss of consciousness.
• Rash of red spots or high fever.
Take your baby to the doctor as soon as you can if :
• Repeated Diarrhoea , vomiting or persistent fever
• Persistent or unusual crying
• Blood stained stool
• Barking cough
• Unexplained rash over the body
• Drowsy and lethargic or persistent irritation
• Discharge from eyes, ear , navel , nose
• Sunken fontanelles ( soft spot on baby’s head)
• Not taking any feeds repeatedly
• Trust your instincts and if you feel your baby is not well, talk to your doctor.
Looking after new baby in the house is like learning to climb a cliff. There will be lot of challenges as you learn to do things for the first time. There will be lot of changes to your previous routines and you might be missing those boys day out, office parties and more. Remember- Your spouse has gone through the same challenges for much longer and now, you both need to support each other in this beautiful journey of parenthood.
“ANYONE CAN BE A FATHER, BUT IT TAKES SOMEONE SPECIAL TO BE A DAD”