It is not unusual to lose touch with friends and colleagues when you have a new baby. Relationships may also change due to different life stages and interests.
As a result, many new Dads experience loneliness, frustration and isolation which can all contribute to feelings of depression.
Grow your network of support
Having a network of personal supporters can ease at least some of the burdens you are experiencing as a new Dad. Your support network can include your partner, your family members, mates or sporting club members or new contacts you make with local Dads you meet through your baby.
A healthy support network gives you an opportunity to:
- Keep active
- Improve your mood by doing pleasant, social things
- Keep you connected with others
- Manage your stress by distraction and engaging in enjoyable activities
- Feel better and recharge your batteries
- Debrief about family life
- Share coping tips with others
- Distract you from everyday worries
Many Dads also find it easier to develop a close affectionate relationship with their new baby when their adult needs for closeness and affection are also being met.
Types of support
Sometimes being a new Dad means that you have fewer social outlets than before. There is not much time left in the day after work and lending a hand with caring for baby are factored in. Just spending time with people you enjoy and who like being with you can make you feel more connected, and more like your old self.
Examples: Call a friend to do some fun activities with baby. Do a baby time share with your partner and organize a time to go to an event with a friend. Use social media, e-mails or video chat to connect with a friend
Getting practical support can give you breaks in what sometimes seems like a never-ending series of daily work, housekeeping and baby-caring tasks.
Asking for help can be hard so start asking people who care about you for easy-to-do tasks.
Examples: Go to the store for you. Cook a dish to help your dinner. Watch baby for a short time.
Sometimes just telling someone about a problem, saying it out loud, seems to help. Sharing your thoughts (both hopes and concerns) with a nonjudgmental listener who supports and cares about you can help you to think through problems that sometimes seem unsolvable and help you get unstuck.
Example: You might share something about your baby that is bothering you with a mate, maybe something you worry about, and then ask for ideas.
Relating to your baby & partner
Support from your baby
Your awareness of your baby’s dependency and your desire to be a good Dad will be a great source of energy and at times, a great source of stress.
Both you and your baby will work hard at learning to know, understand, and form a deep and lasting love.
Right from the start you have done things so that your baby will have the best start to life. Seeing your baby grow in size, weight and ability is evidence of the time and effort you have put into the well-being of this little person.
Acknowledge your good work. Notice what your baby is now doing. Accept compliments others give. Take the credit for the good things others see and comment about.
Support from your partner
Many new dads rely mainly on their partner for nurturance, closeness, physical contact, and emotional support. But when a baby comes along many couples struggle to provide the same level of support and nurturance to each other as before, as they are feeling tired and overwhelmed. Babies are full on and can deplete your coping resources.
If you feel like your needs are being overlooked or a bit left out, try asking your partner for support, but be specific about what you would like from her.
Taking a moment to acknowledge this and talking about it as a couple can go a long way to making you both feel better and supported.
Remember to also acknowledge and appreciate the support that your partner does provide. Small things will do, a quick cuddle, a few words of recognition of their effort and support or just doing something that needs to be done.
Who are my support contacts?
At such a busy time of transition it is important to look for other sources of support in addition to your partner. Take a few minutes to make a list of who can nurture, comfort, and support you.
It is possible as you work through this exercise that you will find that you don’t have enough support or that you are not using the support you do have. That is a pretty common situation for parents of new babies, so don’t be discouraged.
Check out what is available in your community and be open to meeting other Dads at the park, coffee shop or walking in your neighbourhood. They might also be feeling isolated in their new role!
Build a “safety net” for yourself – a list of the people you can rely on for support when you become overwhelmed by the seemingly endless responsibilities of raising a new baby.
We hope you enjoyed this article. It is one of the many support articles in the DadBooster online program. For more great tips and strategies, give DadBooster a go.