A New Father's Guide To Nurturing Himself Through The Postpartum Shift; article for the Maui Family Magazine

Nowadays new fathers are more involved with everyday childrearing than in the past, but there is little recognition of the postpartum adjustment period and need for self care for these fathers. Consequently, some new dads can be left feeling unprepared for fatherhood.

Sometimes a new father needs to take time for himself to de-stress, but often his needs are unmet as he does not know how to verbalize them. In our society men are sometimes taught not to express their emotions. Having somebody to talk to who can relate to the challenges and joys of having a new baby can help. Finding other new dads and befriending them is a good way to start. Nurturing another human can be very demanding, and while dad is supporting the new mother, it is important that he does not forget to take care of himself. Dads can practice self care by eating a healthy diet and not letting caffeine and empty calories replace food.   

Skin-to-skin and eye-to-eye contact in the first few weeks can be especially beneficial to baby while helping new dads bond with their newborns. Some ways that a father can bond with his baby are by getting involved with baby care and learning about behavior cues, which will help build confidence as a new parent. Baby care provides never ending opportunities to bond and can be plenty of fun. For instance, dad could sing a special song at diaper time that will help baby look forward to being on the changing table. Baby wearing gives dad the ability to provide comfort and physical connection, while being hands free. Taking older siblings and baby out for a walk can be a great way to get some fresh air and energy, or in the mornings when baby is alert and ready to play. Setting aside a special activity that fathers can look forward to, like the nightly bath or a daily walk, can be very rewarding.

Fathers play a big role in the family and it is important that they have time to bond with their babies, while caring for themselves and others.