advice

daddy cool:
a guide to what's next after becoming a father

Relax, first-time dad: we're here to help. The first few weeks after your baby is born can be a tricky time for dads. As mum and baby are bonding, you might feel a bit like a third wheel. But follow these tips for new dads, and it will quickly become apparent that you're on the greatest journey of your life.

being a dad means plenty of cuddles with their newborn baby

what should i expect in the first few weeks?

The euphoria of the birth (wasn't it amazing?) wears off quite quickly. Suddenly you and your partner are on the rollercoaster of parenthood. Sleepless nights can leave you both feeling a bit frazzled, and her hormonal changes can mean she's giggling one minute and sobbing the next. Your sex life is on ice: she'll probably be a bit sore (no wonder!) and feeling a bit unsexy. Her body has gone through a lot of changes over the past nine months, and it takes a while to get back to normal.

what can i do to help with our newborn?

You might feel like a bit of a spare part after becoming a dad, especially if baby’s being breastfed. But looking after your partner is part of looking after your baby, and there are lots of ways you can help there. She'll love it if you can take your baby out for a long walk while she has a nap, take over her share of the housework and cooking, and gently fend off visitors when it gets too much. Help to resettle the baby after night feeds and bring her cups of tea for added hero points.

what should i do to bond with my baby?

Your partner has had nine months to bond with baby: now it's your turn. It's totally normal to feel a bit nervous about holding such a delicate little creature, but the best way to get over it is to practise. Carry them around the room when they're fussy or pop them in a sling for trips to the shops. They'll feel secure next to your warm body and will quickly learn your special 'dad' smell. Bathing them and chatting to them while you change their nappies will also help you build a relationship.

how can i keep my relationship with my other half on track?

Lots of couples go through a rocky patch after becoming parents (no sex and no sleep can be a tough combo). Communication is key. If you can, talk about your parenting plans before she gives birth: it helps to get on the same page about big things like when she's planning to go back to work, and little things like who's going to change the nappies. Once baby arrives, keep talking. Raise little niggles calmly instead of bottling them up into outbursts. If you do argue, try not to make it personal – and never criticise her as a mother.

what else can i do to get through the rocky patches?

Small gestures are more important than ever. Run her baths, make her cups of tea and surprise her with her favourite meals. Make the most of your time alone together: once baby's asleep, light the candles and pop on a film. Try not to pressure her for sex, but don't ignore her completely! Keep showing her affection with kisses, hugs and compliments, so she feels desirable. The first few months can be tricky, but stick with it and you'll both find your relationship is deeper and better than ever.