Being a new dad means facing up to new responsibilities and dealing with new problems and more pressure. The full impact of being a new dad is not always felt immediately after your child has been born, but can hit you in stages for months afterwards.
Feelings of confusion are common. As a new dad, you have proof of your virility and the fact that a woman is willing to trust you with being a father. At the same time, you may feel powerless to meet your child's needs, since communication is difficult and your wife or partner spends more time in direct contact, caring for your child.
The kind of love you feel for your child, will be completely new for you to experience. It is powerful and overwhelming at times. Along with feelings of absolute love for your child, you will probably have days where you feel nothing for a while. You may see your own child as an unknown entity, and question how you ended up in your current situation. You may even feel like running away from your family. What follows next, is guilt for exploring those feelings. Just because you have those thoughts, does not make you a bad father. The ambivalent feelings you have are all part of being a father, and will come and go for as long as you live.
Feeling depressed after the baby has been born, is something that is normally associated with women and “baby blues”. While hormones are usually to blame for baby blues and postpartum depression, men can have similar feelings, though it is more to do with circumstance. Before your baby is born, people treat you differently, they give you more leeway for error and are more accommodating. Once you've been a dad for a couple of months, you end up in a routine and are expected to cope with your new lifestyle – despite lost sleep and major changes in the relationship you have with your partner.
You may experience fear as a new dad. There is a lot to live up to and much is expected of you as a modern father. You may feel that you aren't good enough, or that you cannot protect your family from harm, or provide enough financial security for them. You may even have fears about being too much like your own father, or maybe not enough like him. You might fear that the whole idea was a mistake to become a dad. These fears are normal when going from being a husband or partner in a relationship, to becoming a dad.
The relationship you have with your wife, or partner, undergoes massive changes during the early stages of parenting. Your partner's focus will purely be on the child, for at least the first ten months. You will become second on the list, and this takes some getting used to. There will be very little time for you and your partner to do anything that you did before the baby arrived. Despite the loss of sleep, and very busy schedule, you should make every effort to find some time you can spend alone with your wife every day. Even if you just talk for a while, it makes a big difference, as long as you can talk about something other than your baby.
Interacting with your baby for the first couple of months will not provide you with much to go on. Your child will have seemingly random smiles, frowns and bouts of crying. Your child's reactions to you during this time should not be taken as an indication of how good a father you are. Try not to lose interest in your child if reactions are negative. Your child is naturally more comfortable with your partner in the early months. With time, your bond will grow and you will interact in a meaningful way with your baby.
Your new topics of conversation will surprise you, if you take into account what you would typically talk about before your child was born. Once you become a dad, it is quite normal to talk about the consistency of child poop, storing pumped breast milk and the wonders of teething
The logistical nightmare that comes with being a parent is only revealed to you once you actually have a baby. Simple tasks, such as going to the shop, suddenly becomes a very carefully planned exercise; prams, car seats, nappies, cloths, towels, feeding formula – all these things may be needed to complete the job with baby in tow.
The fulfilling love you will have for your baby will be amazing once you have developed a close bond and have learnt to read the visual cues your baby uses to communicate with. When you know how to meet your child's immediate needs successfully, and your child trusts you, you will find that all the inconvenience and drama that goes with being a new dad is well worth it.