If they were being totally honest, some fathers, particularly in bubba’s early days, would admit to feeling like a spare part. It is mummy that carried the tiny human for nine months (without a whimper or complaint, naturally) and then gave birth. As beautiful as that may be to witness, a father is unavoidably sidelined during the event. Many mothers will then begin the adventures of breastfeeding, where dad is physically unable to help out. So at what point is a new dad meant to get involved? Bubba is already bonding with mum and that is a daunting connection with which to contend. However, it really isn’t a competition and the answer is always, get involved as early as possible.
Father/bubba bonding is a huge contributing factor to a child’s development and happiness. Being hands-on, right from the outset, can mean less stress later for fathers and even has a positive effect on how children manage stress later on in life. With increasing numbers of young people estimated to be suffering from depression and anxiety, a father’s early intervention can be invaluable. Dads becoming familiar with their child’s behaviour and basic preferences at this very early stage, means they will feel comfortable with bubba as they develop and stop thinking that daddy time comes later.
Many fathers (and mothers too) do not feel an immediate bond with their child. For some this takes time and whereas mothers are encouraged to pursue that bond, dads will often step back assuming that it will come later or that they are not expected to feel it as instinctively as mothers do.
Skin-to-skin contact between dad and bubba is often promoted in the first 24 hours after birth, but there’s no reason to stop once the photos have been taken and bubba comes home. This intimate connection will encourage the natural bond - releasing hormones, stimulating paternal instincts and providing the perfect condition for a father to fall in love with bubba.
Dads that use baby carriers, slings and wraps continue to deepen this bond, building strong, positive foundations for both. Roles are evolving. Fathers are becoming the hands-on role models that they may not have had themselves. Leading by example, fathers are teaching children that men can be emotionally sensitive, open communicators and aware of their mental health needs.
So for all the dads out there: cuddle, splash in puddles, wrap your bubba to you in a sling and go for a walk in the rain for a fun, sensory explosion. Take bubba to the park well before they can walk, listen to music, play in the garden. Do whatever works for you. What makes you and your bubba smile?
Fathers’ support needs may very well be different to those of a mother, so it’s worth finding a support group that can meet those specific needs. Talking to people who have shared experiences is invaluable and should be considered precious therapy. There are so many people going through what you are going through. Go and find them.
Meetup is a great place to find fathers support groups in your specific area.
A space for parents to gather, meet and talk, and create their own local support network
Supporting individuals who identify as fathers to become better parents and people.
Supporting the wellbeing of dads through family breakdown by mentoring them, helping them to achieve a positive ongoing relationship with their children and by improving co-parenting relationships.
Supporting gay and bi dads with a safe and confidential space.