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Day to day Parent Parent's Learning Pregnancy

Ways for Dads to bond with a Newborn

From the moment you enter the maternity ward, your world flips upside down. You used to be the decider of your sleep schedule and knew roughly what time of day it was by how you felt. Suddenly, as you appear from that sauna hot room of first cries, sweat and tears, everything has changed. Your now a Dad and so here’s some tips to help bond with that little ball of cuteness.

Rewind! Bonding starts with the bump

I got a little ahead of myself there. Bonding actually starts way before you even think about packing your hospital bag. From six months of ‘cooking’ inside Mummy’s belly, your little one can begin to learn. I’ll admit its weird at first, but then this is the time to introduce yourself, so they know who you are from day one. Oh and so they are used to your terrible singing voice from the onset!

Hello, little one

From day one there are many things you can do to build your bond, many of which are super simple.

Be present

No little one is going to bond with someone who isn’t there. Make sure you’re at home and engaged with the new arrival. Cancel some pub trips, sport or xbox time, get on the sofa, and have a snuggle. Share the feeds, where possible and get up during the night, and share the feeds and nappy changes. Sit by the bath and help at bath time. Read a book at bedtime. Just be there.

Do things babies enjoy

It may seem obvious. But engage with the new baby by doing the things babies enjoy. Pull faces, smile, sing, rock, snuggle, and be the general goof you know you are. You’ll be rewarded by looks of joy, later smiles and then giggles.

Display affection with kisses and cuddles and have some skin to skin time. It works just as well for Dad just as much as Mum.

Have some one on one time

This has a double benefit. It gives Mum some time for some ‘me’ time and gives you time with your new child alone. Go for a walk, and get the satisfaction of all the smiles you get from passers-by. Or go one further, take your baby to ‘Rhyme time’ or ‘Messy play’ or ‘Baby massage’.

If you really want to go to town, and your other half doesn’t mind returning to work early, do we me and my Wifey did, and share parental leave. My wife Natalie took the first six months, and I took the latter. This meant I had 8 hours on one on one with Munchkin every week day and boy, did we have fun. You can read about SPL (shared parental leave) in this post.

And that’s as simple

Thanks for reading, do you have any other tips?

And if you are a new Dad, have a read of ‘Five tips for a New Dad‘ which echoes similar sentiments to this post with other tips for new Dads.

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Pregnancy

Twenty hours to parenting…

So Natalie returns from a long term at work ready for a half term rest, a week before the Munchkin or Munchkiness is due to arrive. We didn’t know what we were due to have as we wanted the surprise.

Whilst I’m still at work, Natalie has a week to prepare, pack the hospital essentials and get mentally prepared for pregnancy.

We returned from work to a normal Friday night (well, a normal Friday night with a wife pregnant at full term, that is) and we went to bed like any other weekend.

Saturday morning arrived. Natalie woke with some uncomfort, but then again when was pregnancy comfy…? We migrated downstairs, had brekky and relaxed on the sofa. The relatively NEW sofa I must add.

I look to Natalie ‘Being a new sofa, do you reckon we should grab a towel just incase’. ‘Nah, I’m sure nothing with happen today. We resume whatever Netflix series we were engrossed in at the time.

30 minutes later Natalie looks to me. It’s 10 am on the first day of half term. ‘Oh no!’….It’s too late to get a towel now as the sofa gets the full effect of her waters breaking. ‘This can’t start today! It’s too soon!’.

Let the madness begin. A quite coffee turns into a tirade of panic packing quickly deciding and gathering the last few bits for the birth bag.

10:15. Natalie moves to the bathroom. From what we had seen on TV, waters breaking looked like you’d spilt water down yourself or, at worst, wet yourself. This looked more like the Niagara Falls for a full hour.

At the same time Natalie rings the hospital. We get told this could be the start of a two day process and we should call back when the contractions begin.

11:15 The waters stop and the contractions begin. We ring. ‘Call back when they are 5 minutes apart’.

11:30 The contractions are 5 apart. ‘We understand you want to leave now but relax and call back when the contractions are 2 minutes apart.

11:39 Natalie can no longer speak because of the contractions. I ring but they insist to speak to her. She wants to push and just about gets that across. Get in the car NOW!!

12:00 We leave. Usually the commute to the hospital would take 25 minutes maximum. Not today. Today they are cutting some bushes so there are traffic lights. Today it takes 45 minutes.

12:45 We arrive at the hospital and begin a slow walk up to the sauna that is the delivery suite. We wait then get taken to the triage ward. The nurse gets Natalie on the bed and then the phone rings and she pops off.

Natalie asks me to take a look. I can already see Munchkin’s little head popping out. The nurse is still on the phone. I jump out of the curtain and begin the ‘I really need you to see this’ dance until she responds.

The nurse follows me back in. The alarms go off. One push, the head is out, push two. You’ve had a boy!

13:22. On the first day of half term, one week early, Munchkin arrives. In the triage ward. To two totally shocked and mentally unprepared new parents.And that, was the fastest morning of my life.

Thanks for reading,

Daddy and Munchkin.

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Shared Parental Leave

Shared Parental Leave (the reason I started to blog)

Shared parental leave is the government initiative to give the Mother’s partner an opportunity to share the Maternity leave entitlement. It can begin when you opt to end maternity leave and then the remaining leave can be shared between both parents.

For us, we decided that the wifey Natalie would take the first 6 months and I would take the final 3. This meant we would get the same pay entitlements as shared parental pay is equal to statutory maternity pay, which is what Natalie would be receiving in these three months. It also meant Natalie returned to work at an ideal time for her career.

In September 2019 I began SPL and my three months of leave. It’s fair to say it was a rocky start. We were fully breast feeding our Munchkin for the first 6 months. So 6 months began a switch to bottle feeding, the start of weaning and a change from Mummy to Daddy. This was A LOT OF CHANGE and the resulting Munchkin bottle hunger strike was a fair response. But we made it through…

Regarding SPL, the whole process can be a tad confusing and, as per anything like this, there is a lot of forms to complete. It’s also a new-ish process so naturally that comes with unknowns.

If you have any questions feel free to ask me and I’ll try my best to answer them.

Thanks for reading,

Daddy and Munchkin