How to be the perfect new dad
So now you're a dad, and you can't for the life of you find the manual for this crying, new little person. Oh well, you can learn on the job. To give you a head start, we asked a group of mums what they most wanted from their partner in the early days.
Hold your nerve
You may well feel a sense of panic when the midwives, doctors and health visitors disappear and leave you literally holding the baby. This will naturally coincide with your baby waking up more, crying louder and the odd breastfeeding hiccup. Now is the time to stay calm and remind your partner what a great job she's done so far.
Know who to ask
Keep a list of key phone numbers next to the phone or key them into your mobile. That way, when you are worried about something you can quickly call the best person for advice. As well as including your midwife, doctor, health visitor and mum on your list, you could also add the telephone numbers of friends with children, your antenatal teacher, your local breastfeeding counsellor and the National Breastfeeding Helpline.
Shop until you drop
Stock up your cupboards and freezer with plenty of food ideal for quick and easy meals. All too often there will be just too much to do in one day to allow much time for cooking. Accept that meals will be chaotic at first and be ready to provide fast food when called upon. Even if that does mean making frequent trips to your local takeaway!
Also become familiar with the baby aisle in your local supermarket, so that you can easily dash in and out for more nappies, baby cream and any other essentials at a moment's notice.
Be the gatekeeper
You're going to find yourselves very popular during the first few days that your partner and baby are home. You'll quickly learn that there's no greater attraction than a newborn baby, as friends, family and even the neighbours you barely know turn up to catch a glimpse of your brand new person. While it's always nice to be in demand, it can certainly be exhausting to have so many people coming and going. Be ready to put people off if your partner, baby or you feel frazzled.
Control the phone
Your phone is likely to be going crazy as friends and family telephone to congratulate you and hear all of your baby news. If the ceaseless ringing is starting to get to you, record a pleasant message on your answer phone that includes all of your latest baby action. You can then call them back when you feel up to it.
Run your partner a relaxing bath, massage her shoulders, cook her favourite meals and bring her snacks as well as drinks while she breastfeeds. Most new mums are sore, tired, hormonal and overexcited, so she needs you to help her cope. She will appreciate your extra effort so much that in the long term it will be a huge boost to your relationship. You will end up closer than ever.
Talk and listen
You and your partner really can't do enough of this. Give your baby and partner equal amounts of praise, and be honest about how becoming a parent has made you feel. The last thing you want to do is bottle up how such a life changing experience has affected you. In return, you need to listen to her, and understand that while she may feel weepy and ecstatic all at the same time, all she needs from you is love and support.
Sex and your partner
Don't forget yourself. Everyone needs someone to talk to outside of their direct family unit. While your partner will have her girlfriends and mother to confide in and chat to, you could turn to one of your own close friends to talk over all the gory details of the birth and any concerns you might have. This will leave you better equipped to debrief with your partner, and put you in the best possible frame of mind to start your journey into fatherhood.