Advice for new dads, from new mums
Becoming a parent is one of the most life-changing experiences you and your partner will go through together. In the haze of sleep deprivation and getting to know your new baby, you might find you have less time to talk than you'd like -- and you may be totally at a loss about what your new role entails and what your partner expects from you. OHbaby! asked our members to tell us what new mums want new dads to know, and this is what they said:
"I wish it were possible for guys to understand how exhausting all the 'invisible' work is: pregnancy itself (especially the first trimester when you can't see anything external going on), and then the breastfeeding as well."
"I would like all new dads out there to know how important positive words are, from 'You look beautiful!' to "Push, honey -- you're doing great!' and even 'You're a great mum.' It makes a huge difference to life, especially as a stay-at-home mum, whether that be for two months, a year, or forever!"
"You CANNOT, I repeat CANNOT, put garlic bread in the microwave still wrapped in tin foil and then start the microwave!"
"You need to wait a while after the actual birth before even mentioning sex again!"
"The thing I seem to say the most often is 'I'm pregnant, not disabled!' Just because a woman is pregnant doesn't mean she's unable to walk up a flight of stairs (true story), carry a tray of food (true story) or do any activity that takes longer than 15 minutes (true story). It's the overprotectiveness that gets to me. Yes, I know, I'm too stubborn and independent for my own good, and I'm sure I'm not the only woman like that. But pregnancy does not actually equal inability to accomplish things!"
"Morning sickness is not like that time last year when you felt a bit sick so you went outside for a walk in the fresh air and it magically disappeared forever. Morning sickness is there no matter what you do or do not do, and no amount of 'brisk walking' in the heat of summer is going to make it go away. And if you don't stop pestering me about getting some 'fresh air', I will purposely not make it to the bathroom the next time I have to puke. Instead, I will aim for your pile of washing that you have left in the middle of the bedroom because you're too damn lazy to help around the house!"
"I'm in my first trimester and I so appreciate it when my husband does the things I'm too darn tired or sick to do -- like cooking dinner, doing the dishes, doing the shopping, etc, as well as being understanding that my body is exhausted! Sometimes he even washes my hair in the bath when I am too tired to do it but I feel gross and dirty. Another great thing is that he doesn't make me feel bad about asking for stuff I need. He also brings me breakfast before I get out of bed every morning so I don't feel as sick -- that helps heaps."
"Top of the list would be QUIT PESTERING ME FOR SEX!!! 'NO' MEANS NO -- NOT 'YES' IN ANOTHER 10 MINUTES IF YOU ASK AGAIN."
"Please don't tell me how tired YOU are, when I have been up all night trying to settle a brand-new baby."
"Please don't make me feel that because YOU go out to work, that I am at home filing my nails, and that's why I have been 'too busy' to vaccuum/shower/do the washing/ironing/get tea ready."
"Please keep reminding me that I am doing a good job, even if you don't think this is entirely true. Remember, I am learning too (and I know you are as well)."
"Eating is really important while breastfeeding, so watching the kids while mum gets breakfast can make a huge difference to the whole day."
"My biggest help in the early days would have been if my husband had taken a bit of initiative rather than waiting for me to ask for something to be done -- housework, dinner, etc. Or just as good would be asking if there is anything they can do to help. Oh, and having the house nice and tidy when you get home from hospital would be great, not having three loads of washing to put through, dishes to do and beds to make. Not a happy new mummy that day!"
"Complaining about a sore wrist while your partner in labour just might make her a little cross!"
"Have the car seat all ready BEFORE picking everyone up from the hospital so you're not waiting outside while he fiddles around with the straps. My partner actually brought the wrong carseat to the hospital to pick up our daughter!"
"After I had my baby, I was bedridden for two weeks, so my husband had to do everything, but that didn't mean if he spent 30 minutes cleaning that he could then spend an hour playing video games... or one hour cleaning to play two hours of video games... aarrgghh!"
"I did appreciate the company. I suffered from postnatal depression and no one knew what to say or do, but I had a good friend just show up to sit and talk, or to just sit. That was huge for me!"
"My in-laws showed up with a roast one day -- heaps of meat and veges. It was fantastic! But maybe cleaning up after it all would have topped it off for me! It took us two hours to clean up the mess!"
"When someone says no to sex, do not keep pestering them. The last thing on a new mother's mind is having sex... especially if they've been up all night and have sore, cracked nipples! Not many ladies feel sexy after having a baby, so give us some time."
"Help out -- with anything. Tidy up around the house, run errands for the mum. Even ask her if she'd like a little treat (that's not sex!), perhaps a box of chocolates or her favourite magazine or something. Even just taking baby off her hands so she can have 30 minutes to herself is a blessing."
"If you've finished eating and you can see your partner trying to entertain the baby as well as feed herself, take the initiative and take the baby so she can eat. Honestly, she will be grateful for it!"
"Learn to change nappies! And don't get all squeamish once the baby starts solids and the nappies really start to stink. Dry-retching is not appealing!"
"If you are heading out, help out by opening the car door and having the carseat ready. I know that last thing I want to see when I have a 10kg baby in one arm and a huge baby bag in the other is my partner sitting ready in the driver's seat while I need help. Unfortunately, that happens all too often!"
"Respect us if we want a little time to ourselves, because as mothers, all we are doing is giving, giving, and giving. Sometimes we just want a minute or two to unwind and relax, with just ourselves as company. Don't be offended if we ask for that."
"NEVER, I mean NEVER, compare your job to that of a stay-at-home mum! Maybe when you've dealt with dirty nappies, spill-ups, sore tummies, winding, crying for no apparent reason, endless nights with little sleep, having to remember you have a constant little companion that you have to organise before heading out anywhere, immunisations, and all the rest, then maybe you'll have some understanding of what we go through on a daily basis!"
"Just help out whenever you can. Being a mum is a 24/7 job and any little bit of help we can get is greatly appreciated."
"Don't expect us to be happy and chirpy all the time, even if we are happy to be pregnant! Recognise that its not as easy as people think. Hormones are raging, you are exhausted, you have indigestion, constipation and a sore back, so don't expect an all-singing, all-dancing show of happiness all the time!"
"The best thing my husband did was to bring me lots of food for breakfast while I was giving baby her morning feed and STARVING after feeding her all night, especially bits of food that you can eat easily with one hand, like cut up kiwi fruit and bananas, toast, etc."
"Right after the baby was born, I would say stick around at the hospital. My husband rushed off to get everything done and felt very stressed that he needed to clean the house, change the sheets, etc. before I got home. To be honest, I would much rather have come home to a slightly untidy house and have him by my side for longer at the hospital."
"Just because I give you a cuddle DOES NOT mean I want to have sex!"
"I wish my hubby had stayed with me at the hospital all day (until they kick the men out of the ward at 8pm) both days I was in there. Trying to get up out of bed to tend to baby took about 20 minutes each time and was excruciating, and I needed him there to help. He did have the house tidy for when I came home, which might have something to do with me leaving a book open on the page explaining how truly evil it is for men to let us bring our new babies home to a pigsty of their own man-home-alone making!"
"In the first couple of weeks, people texted DH to see if it was a good time to visit me and baby. He was actually back at work (oh yeah... TAKE LEAVE -- even if you are self-employed, take a week or two off because the financial cost is nothing compared to the cost to your partner of being home alone with a brand-new baby!), but he would just check with me and basically be the visiting-police at first.That really helped.And he cooked dinner for those first six or so weeks -- BIG help.We wouldn't have eaten, otherwise!!"
"Spend heaps of time at the hospital with your partner/wife and your new arrival. My partner would come every day, usually around 10 am and stay til 1.30pm, go pick up his mum, drop her off at work and then stay til she finished work at 11pm! And I was in there for five days. It was really good to have him there."
"Just because I'm resting when baby does doesn't mean I want to have sex!"