If there’s one thing that separates the men from the boys, it’s how they deal with becoming a dad.

Here are some top tips to cope with the most rewarding challenge you’ll ever face.

  • Get close to your baby – Don’t be afraid to pick your tiny baby up, your instincts as a dad will kick in. Babies love to be held close, but they don’t like sudden jerky movements and make sure you support their head.
  • Don’t panic – You might feel a bit anxious when the midwives, doctors and health visitors leave you holding the baby so try and prepare for this. Stay calm and remember that help is always on hand.
  • Know where to turn – Keep a list of important numbers so you can get help or advice quickly. As well as the midwife, doctor, health visitor (and your mum), include your friends who have children, antenatal teacher (if you had one), Solihull Infant Feeding Team (0121 717 4366) and the National Breastfeeding Helpline (0300 100  0212).
  • Fill the cupboards – Make extra portions of healthy meals that you can freeze for quick easy meals when you have little time on your hands.
  • Don’t be a pest – Sex is unlikely to be on the agenda in the early days. New mums will be tired, sore and may be self conscious about their body. Tell your partner how beautiful she is, how proud of her you are and give her time to adjust after the birth.

Fix it!

Make sure the house runs smoothly; DIY, cooking, cleaning, shopping etc. Not only will she be exhausted, but she might be worried that these things are’t being taken care of. Make sure you help out with the practical things. Get up in the night to get her a drink or some toast (breastfeeding’s thirsty work), help out with burping your baby after a feed and be prepared to change your fair share of nappies!

Guard

Make sure your partner isn’t getting too many visitors. Let others know when your family needs to be alone.

Take Charge

If you have other children, make sure they give mum and baby some space. Distract them with fun activites and exercise, but see that they still get enough attention and sleep.

Protect

Stop people making negative comments about breastfeeding. Even if it comes from your own mother. Seek skilled help if any problems crop up and know what to look for, what to do and who to contact. Breastfeeding’s a tough skill to learn so be patient. She might be snappy and tearful but just be there for her.

Search

Find details of local breastfeeding support groups there are loads in Solihull – phone, text or email Carmen or Elaine for more info.

Be Proud

What your partner is doing is amazing. Make sure she knows you think so!

Dads and Breastfeeding

Dads have an important role to play in supporting their partners to feel more confident with breastfeeding, and pregnant mums are more likely to breastfeed if their partners get involved in the decision.

“We were pleased to find out that breastfeeding would give our daughter Evie the best possible start in life, it’s really good for her immune system.” – Ricky Falconer, 18

If you and your partner decide to breastfeed, there’s a lot you can do to prepare. Your role in the first few weeks is crucial. Nine out ten new mothers who give up breastfeeding in the first six weeks stop before they really want to. This is nearly always due to a lack of support or information. You need to provide the support, but careful not to pressure her – being a new mum is tough enough!

The hard bit is seeing things from her point of view. She’s probably tired, emotional and her hormones will be all over the place. She may also be worrying about being a good mum, keeping up with the housework and even neglecting you.

Even if she’s struggling, try not to suggest that she gives up. The best thing you can do is stay positive, give her lots of compliments and make it clear you’re in it together.

“There’ll be times when your partner will get upset, no matter how chilled out they are. You’ve just got to be there for them, get as much advice as you can. Anything you can do to help her out is always useful, it all helps to take the stress off.” – Jack Gair, 23

The perks of breastfeeding

Breastfeeding couples are up to £620 better off per year than those who decide to bottle-feed. The cost of formula milk, bottles and sterilising equipment can cost upwards of £50 per month.

“Buying formula can be expensive, but Laura’s milk gives Elle all the nutrients she needs for free!” – Jack Gair, 23

Its easy and convenient, as there is no preparation involved and the milk is always the right temperature. Mums make just enough milk for their babies. The hungrier the baby, the more milk mum will make – meaning you’ll never run out.

Breastfed babies receive antibodies from mum, so they’re less prone to ear and urine infections, allergies and tummy upsets and they’re less likely to be obese as adults. Research suggests breastfeeding positively affects baby’s brain development and IQ.

It’s also healthy for mum too. Breastfeeding burns up to 500 calories per day, so can help mum shift any extra baby weight as well as protecting her against ovarian and breast cancers and weaker bones later in life.