A New Mom’s Inside Guide to the New Dad’s Journey

Becoming a parent is an extraordinary journey that brings with it a rollercoaster of emotions, and it’s not just a ride for moms. Dads, too, experience a whirlwind of feelings, which, while beautiful, can be overwhelming. Here’s a look at your partner’s journey as a new dad, helping you understand and support him through this profound life change.

new dad brain changes

The Paternal Bond: A Different but Equally Profound Connection

When it comes to bonding, fathers may not have the physical connection that mothers do, but that doesn’t mean their emotional bond is any less profound. A study published by USC Dornsife shows that a man’s brain changes in ways that enhance his parental nurturing after the birth of his child, a sign that fathers, too, are biologically wired for parenthood.

Here are the top takeaways from that study:

  • The time fathers devote to child care every week has tripled over the past 50 years in the United States
  • The research found several significant changes in the brains of fathers from prenatal to postpartum that did not emerge within the childless men we followed across the same time period. (Found via MRI testing and tracking.)
  •  Spanish fathers, who, on average, have more generous paternity leaves than fathers have in the U.S., displayed more pronounced changes in brain regions that support goal-directed attention, which may help fathers attune to their infants’ cues, compared with Californian fathers. (*AHEM PARENTAL LEAVE FOR ALL!*)

In retrospect, I can see how this impacted my partner. Though in the moment, I knew nothing about these studies, and struggled to honor my partner’s changes. I couldn’t see them on the outside and there was no one talking about it or offering him support.

The Joy of Fatherhood: It’s a Mixed Bag

While fathers are filled with joy and love for their newborns, the experience is often tinged with feelings of inadequacy and fear of not being a good enough provider or protector. Social media and other types of media impact men too, as there is still comparison and expectations that impact how a father might feel about himself.

For many of us, we are in a generation of trying to move away from the gender-stereotypical roles while also finding ways to work as team efficiently and effectively. This can leave a lot of uncertainty and different feelings of pressure coming from all sides.

Challenges of Being a New Dad

Many new fathers grapple with several challenges, such as:

  • Feeling left out of the mother-baby bond
  • Dealing with increased financial pressure
  • Struggling to balance work and home life
  • Coping with sleep deprivation

These challenges are common, and reminding your partner he’s not alone in this can make a significant difference. Supportive resources can also help:

  • Books like The Expectant Father can provide invaluable guidance.
  • Participating in a dads’ group can help him connect with peers facing similar experiences.
  • Online counselling can provide a private and supportive space to address concerns and worries.
  • Couple’s coaching with me can help you and your partner get clear about your values, communication, and teamwork as you become the parents you want to be.
challenges of being a new dad

How Can You Support Your Partner?

As a new mom, understanding your partner’s emotional journey can go a long way in providing support. It is a TOUGH balance in many ways because you are both going through big changes with little energy left for one another. Here are some simple ways you can offer support:

  • Encourage him to spend one-on-one time with the baby, fostering their bond. Practice letting go of control of how things are done so that your partner can own his journey.
  • Make sure he’s taking care of himself by eating well and getting some rest. Consider using a meal delivery service for healthy meals for everyone in the home.
  • Provide him with opportunities to be involved in baby care. I always recommend dads get to their own baby carrier so they can save their own “settings” on the carrier and use it confidently. ErgoBaby 360 is the top-rated baby carrier for dads.
  • Encourage open communication about his feelings and experiences. You can use something like Love Lingual conversation cards to help you stay connected and share your personal and relational changes.

The journey of fatherhood is both challenging and rewarding, as Reed Markham, Ph.D., noted educator, wisely says, “Being a great father is like shaving. No matter how good you shaved today, you have to do it again tomorrow.” It’s a continuous journey, full of love, growth, and yes, even the occasional stumble. But by understanding and supporting each other, both of you can grow stronger as individuals and as a couple.Remember, it’s okay to reach out and ask for help. By navigating this journey together, you’re building a loving and nurturing environment for your child, and there’s no greater accomplishment than that.

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