Top tips and hints for all those first-time fathers

KIERAN HOWARD: There needs to be a uni degree course in parenting

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The nursery has been decorated, the cot and pram have been bought and mother and baby are home.

After the pregnancy and birth, it’s time to settle down into parenthood.

But becoming a dad can be a daunting prospect as you juggle helping to look after the baby as well as your partner.

Here are some tips and things to remember:

n Support your partner

After the upheaval of the labour, birth and the days spent at the hospital, you are likely to be feeling tired and disorientated. But that is nothing compared to how your partner will be feeling after giving birth.

Looking after a baby is a team effort, so make sure you do as much as you can to support your partner.

Whether it is a new experience for you or not, it’s likely that tasks like household chores will need to be done by you, especially early on as your partner recovers, so try to do as much as you can to keep domestic life ticking over.

As well as practical help, your partner is likely to need emotional support as well.

Things like breast-feeding may not always go smoothly first time, so be sure to reassure your partner and be positive.

Some women experience postnatal depression following birth. Symptoms of this can include feeling low, unable to cope and having difficulty sleeping.

If you are concerned that your partner may have postnatal depression, encourage them to visit a GP.

n Sort out a routine

If you have paternity leave, it may be that both you and your partner take it in turns to get up in the night with the baby.

But if you are returning to work and your partner is staying home to look after the baby, you may have to find a new system that works for you.

Perhaps your partner could get up with the baby during the week with you taking over at weekends.

Be sure to talk to your partner and reach a decision that you are both happy with.

n Get involved

Helping with changing, feeding and entertaining the baby will not only help give your partner a break but it also gives you a great chance to bond with your new son or daughter.

As it may be the first time either of you have changed a nappy, for example, it gives you a great opportunity to work together and help each other out.

n Don’t forget to feed yourselves

As a couple, a lot of your focus will be on feeding the baby, but don’t forget that you need to eat too!

Try and buy in food that you can make quick and healthy meals from so you can get something fast if you need to.

Make sure you still get a balanced diet though, as this will give you the energy you need and keep you healthy.

It’s a good idea to make meals to keep in the freezer before the birth.

n Welcoming visitors

It’s likely that you will have an influx of friends and family coming to visit you in the days and weeks after the baby is born.

While you’ll no doubt enjoy showing off your new son or daughter, welcoming so many visitors can be demanding, especially when trying to juggle all the new demands of parenthood.

n Talking and listening

Communication is always key, but this is especially important when you have just become parents.

Make sure you know how your partner is feeling about everything, but also that she knows how you are feeling.

This will ensure that you work together effectively as parents.