Talk about your fears
There’s no guide to being a parent, but while mums are often encouraged to discuss their worries and struggles, Dads can sometimes be overlooked, and feel less inclined to speak out. After all, in comparison to what women go through – giving birth, breastfeeding etc. - are your worries a big deal?
Yes - they are.
Both parents are of equal importance in a family unit, so if there’s anything bothering you - don’t be afraid to admit it. To help you on your way, we spoke to a few Dads about their experiences of first-time dadding, and how they dealt with any adversity that came their way.
First time in the delivery room
“There were times during the labor where I just felt totally useless,” says James, father to Joseph, three. “At one point my girlfriend was in so much pain I just couldn’t engage with her at all. And even if I could there was nothing I could do or say to make her feel better.
All the staff in the room had something to do and I was just standing there feeling awkward. However, the midwives then needed to know what had already been done and so were asking me questions like when her waters had broken and what time we’d arrived at the hospital, so it was good to be able to help on that front.
After my girlfriend had an epidural things calmed down and I could just be there for her, bringing her drinks or whatever she needed. Then when it was time to push I was just giving her so much encouragement, telling her how well she was doing and how close she was to finishing. When our son finally arrived I have never felt relief like it. And I also couldn’t believe how much he looked like me! It was the strangest feeling but the one that hits me the most when I look back on it".
Becoming a stay-at-home Dad
“My wife had not long been promoted to a senior role in her company when she fell pregnant with our daughter, Evie,” says Dad, Stefan. “I, on the other hand, was looking for a career change, having spent years in a poorly paid role that I didn’t enjoy. Neither of us wanted to send Evie to a nursery if we didn’t have to, so we decided that I’d be a stay-at-home Dad once my wife’s maternity leave was over.
I started to get really nervous in the run-up to my wife going back to work, mainly about money as we’d have to live on less than we were used to. We're more budget conscious now but, it is manageable. We cut down on ‘luxuries’ that you can easily do without, like TV packages and take-aways, to make sure we have enough money for essentials as well as days out and at least one decent holiday a year. And while I do pine for those days before we had a budget ‘spreadsheet’, I just remember how much quality time I’m spending with my daughter, and quickly remember my priorities!”
Missing out on your child
“I really struggled with how much I felt I was missing out on watching our son, Jay, grow up,” says Dad, Jamie. “I would spend a little time with him in the morning then race home to do his bath and bedtime, but it didn’t feel like quality time. It was hard to be honest about this with my wife as she was shattered and I didn’t want to burden her, but once I did bring it up she was actually relieved that I felt like this and that I wanted to spend more time with him. Now at weekends it’s important that we spend time just the two of us. I’ve got a seat on the front of my bike that he can go on so that’s our thing, which is great. Also I try and take one day off work every fortnight, which is Daddy-and-Jay day, and that’s helped a lot.”
Being a Dad is an amazing experience but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with its fair share of pressure, tiredness and stress too, so if you have any concerns - do know that you’re not alone. Reach out and remember - worries are never a sign of weakness, they just show that you care.