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TylerJ1029 January 30th, 2005 07:10 PM


Postpartum Fathers

By Holly Richardson, CD(DONA)

* * After nine months of expectant anticipation, the day of birth finally arrives! Fathers experience many intense emotions as they watch the birth of their new baby. They are excited, in awe, overwhelmed with love and respect for their partner who just gave birth. Shortly thereafter, they return to work, full of new-father pride. Then, reality hits!

* * Lack of sleep, lack of time, emotional mom, crying baby, household "chores" not done - these all make up postpartum. It is common for dads to feel like they've become the "odd man out."

* * For first-time fathers, many do not know how to care for a baby, or what to expect realistically from their partners during this period. Many men have grown up with their fathers as role-models of how not to be involved. Suddenly, it seems, they are thrust into a role for which they have no training and no role-models. And, mom expects then to also do everything she usually did before the baby was born. Do dads end up feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, irritable, and "let down?" Yes! They go through postpartum too.

* * Fathers should have a large role in developing a postpartum plan. Their lives will be changing too. It helps mothers-to-be hear that their husbands' lives to change too. One dad remarked before the birth of his fourth child, "You know, it just isn't fair." He then explained that not only did he have to continue with his regular, full-time job, help the siblings adjust, and make sure mom and baby were taken care of, he was also expected to do everything else. This included grocery shopping, house cleaning, meal preparation, etc., etc. This was a good opportunity to point out that not only is outside help invaluable postpartum, but also that expectations need to be changed for awhile. Doulas can help dads know what to expect by including a discussion of postpartum in their prenatal interview. This gives doulas the opportunity to "prepare: families about the realities of postpartum. At the very least, it helps families start thinking beyond the big event of birth.

* * Growing together and learning together about being a family is the real goal of postpartum.[/b]


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