Men’s Health Information and Resource Centre

Beyond Blue: Dad's Handbook - A guide to the first 12 months

dads guide This guide gives all new parents information on pregnancy and what to expect, bonding with the new baby, looking after yourself and being there for your partner, accepting help and support from extended family, recognising symptoms of depression and anxiety and seeking help when needed.

Many people describe it as a roller coaster ride, which is exciting and scary at the same time. No matter how fatherhood is described, it is an adventure that can be both demanding and rewarding.

The pregnancy and birth

Pregnancy, the birth and the first year after the birth of a baby can be very challenging for dads and mums.

After the birth

Most new parents feel a bit ‘all over the place’ after the birth. They often feel excited about the new baby, but overwhelmed and exhausted by the birth. This mixture of thoughts and feelings can be confusing. This is normal and it is helpful to get some rest when possible.

Help your baby to learn

From the first day your newborn baby comes into the world, he/she is ready to interact with you and has a lot to learn. They can recognise faces, see colours, hear voices, discriminate speech sounds, and distinguish basic tastes.

Your relationship with your partner

Couples often talk about feeling closer in the days after the birth when they are excited about the baby they have created. However, after a period of time, usually about a month, with interrupted sleep and the increase in household chores that are difficult to postpone, couples report an increase in stress.

Extended families

Extended family is a very important support to a new family, however this needs to be managed in a way that is sensitive to the needs of everyone.

Emotional health during pregnancy and early parenthood

Along with feelings of joy, excitement and pride the experience of pregnancy and giving birth can be accompanied by feelings of apprehension, anxiety and exhaustion. Most people know that depression and anxiety during pregnancy and early parenthood can affect mothers, but it’s important to remember that fathers are at risk as well. Take care to recognise and encourage your own way of bonding with your baby. Promote physical contact, talking, touching, feeding, bathing and nappy changing. In particular take time to have regular ‘play-times’ with your baby.


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