The father to be has a transition to make. Although he contributed equally in the process of conception, he can feel left out and unimportant during the process of pregnancy. Given how obvious the mother’s role is, he may struggle to see the value and importance of his role in the triad. He is pivotal in the support role for the well being of mother and baby. He will need a little more time to come to grips with the reality of what has happened. Whilst he is excited about the birth, he needs time to find his own way of relating to the baby.
He is as intimate and necessary a part of the process, as the mother – baby partnership requires the father to protect and keep them safe from intrusion and harm, as they are so vulnerable at this time. The father steps back, and allows his infant to occupy an intimate place with his partner, supporting their bonding together. And of paramount importance, more often than not, the father carries the worry of the family’s financial future if they are the sole breadwinner. It can be very stressful.
Mother will need organized help, and this is where father and extended family can become meaningfully involved. But family help may be a bit hard to come by, as couples delay starting a family until well into their 30’s, and grandparents are probably not as agile as they used to be. Also, they may live in another country and enjoying retirement.
So whatever the circumstances, a conversation needs to be had at about 6 weeks before the birth with all helping hands on board, and plans discussed and written down, duties delegated. Father needs to choose and lead the team, being very firm with possibly ‘difficult’ people. They can help later, when order, physical and psychological strength and sense of humour has been restored.
A father learning to massage his infant will bring him in touch with the process of getting to know his child in an intimate and loving way. His voice, smell and touch is different and interesting to the baby. This can be where infant massage becomes a helpful skill set to employ. It teaches how to read cues, the importance of loving touch, hearing singing of nursery rhymes (babies don’t care about voice quality or technique), learning to relax parent and baby, and gain confidence in handling his new baby.