You’re about to have a new baby! Congratulations! You’re also working patrol on nights, barely get enough regular sleep as it is and are worried that you won’t be able to take time off when the baby is born.
As if police work isn’t tough enough as it is, add to that the stress of trying to support a family and the excitement and trials of having a new baby, and the stress of becoming a new dad can be extremely heavy. Here are some things you can do to help manage the stress of being a new dad.
Focus on Your Beautiful Baby
Having a new baby is beautiful. When you first hold that little one in your arms there is nothing on this earth you will love more. But rationally, having a baby is a huge change, so it’s best to prepare yourself for some of those changes up front. “The more you’re able to address beforehand, the less likely these things are to cause you severe stress over time,” says Dr. Hunaid Gurji, a pediatrician at Kelsey-Seybold’s Fort Bend Medical and Diagnostic Center who’s also a father. Schedule an appointment with him online at kelsey-seybold.com/appointmentsNOW or call 713-442-0000.
Dr. Gurji identifies the following stressors as the biggest ones new dads face and how to manage them:
- Disrupted sleep – This is an even bigger deal for people who work shift work, as sleep is already at a premium. If you get to stay home with the baby and your wife, try sleeping when the baby is sleeping. If not, come up with a sleeping routine with your wife that will leave you both as refreshed and rested as possible.
- Feeling left out – You’ll want to spend as much time as you can with your new family, but if you don’t have time-off saved up it might be difficult to keep your regular work schedule and find time to spend with your newborn. Having a baby also means sharing your partner’s attention, which can also make a new dad feel like an after-thought. Even a little time spent with your baby is time well spent. Help with feedings and changing the baby. Take a turn rocking the baby to sleep. Help your partner with bathing the baby.
- Financial responsibilities – Having a baby is expensive. Diapers alone can seem astronomically high. As soon as you and your wife know you’re expecting a baby, start saving and talk about future spending habits. It may seem like a big change at the beginning, but once that baby is born, chances are you won’t even notice.
- Changing relationship with your partner – As you both adjust to this new parental role, chances are they’ll be some bumps in your relationship as well. It is especially important during these times to spend time and remain affectionate with your partner. You probably need each other now more than ever, so make sure you stay on the same team!
The best thing you can do for yourself and your family is to stay involved, both before and after the baby is born. Studies have shown that children who have dads who are active and present in their lives talk sooner, are generally more independent, are less likely to suffer from depression or be involved in high-risk behaviors and see less instances of teen pregnancy. Staying engaged and connected with your newly expanded family and taking steps to manage stress will save you some heartache in the long run.
“Consider what kind of dad you want to be. Give some thought to what aspects of your relationship with your own father you might want to emulate with your child and what you might do differently,” suggests Dr. Gurji, who is accepting new patients including same-day and next-day appointments at Kelsey-Seybold’s Fort Bend Medical and Diagnostic Center in Sugar Land.