The bundle of joy is announced, patiently growing and developing in the womb. Three trimesters later and ‘poof’ you have yourself a perfectly healthy baby. Of course, the woman is doing most of the heavy lifting, so it stands to reason that we embrace maternity leave. But when do dads get the time to join in the planning, preparation, support to their significant others and newborn baby?
Fortunately, at the end of 2019, President Ramaphosa signed a Labor law agreement that men are now entitled to a full 10 days of paternity leave as of 2020. This is ideal for fathers looking to bond with their newborns and support their partners in those early days.
It is important for expectant dads to be part of the planning and support throughout the pregnancy – learning how to bond with the baby right out the womb, how to hold them and much more.
Parenting and Pampers® Institute Expert, Sister Yolanda Mpilo, gives some tips for first-time dads:
- Attend parenting classes with your partner
- Learn the techniques for bonding with your baby e.g. feeding them
- Learn to change nappies, this will give your partner a chance to rest
- Stay on top of your baby’s health review schedule and prepare questions for the GP/pediatrician
- Do your research on child development for the years ahead
Have a weekly or monthly planner on how to best support mom pre and post-birth, this includes birthing classes, clinic visits and when she just needs to rest. You also need to recognise when mom and baby need their space to bond one-on-one. Mom and dad should also allow a session to discuss pressing matters, and check how each is doing emotionally and physically.
Bonding is beautiful
Dads do not bond with their babies the same way that moms do. They need to create an organic routine to facilitate the bonding; from creating small talk to learning different massage strokes that baby will recognise the moment they are wrapped in daddy’s arms.
Parents are advised to each have a distinct bonding style, as this also helps the baby differentiate between mom and dad. For instance, the more dad sings for his baby the more they will associate that with him, creating a closer bond between the two.
During pregnancy and after birth, taking scheduled trips to the doctor should be as important to dad as it is to mom. Post-birth, dad should attend well baby clinic with mom, to check up on the baby’s development and growth (weight, nutrition, screening tests and more). These sessions start as early as 3-6 days after birth.
“This is an exciting and scary time for both mom and dad, and there’s not a more important time to function like a team than with the arrival of your baby. As long as there are constant check-ins and communicating, both parties will feel like an equal part of this life-changing parenting journey,” concludes Sister Yolanda.