Posts Tagged ‘dads’

The NICU dad – Superman has nothing on him

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

This post is dedicated to all dads, in honor of Father’s Day.

kangaroo-care-dadFatherhood is not supposed to start in a NICU.

When the birth of your baby is unexpectedly early or if your child has medical issues, you may find yourself coping with the stress of having your baby in the hospital. The anxiety and fear about your baby’s special health care needs can be overwhelming. Add to that the emotions your partner may be experiencing, coordinating work, NICU visits, and possibly other children, and you have one difficult situation.

But, a NICU dad is strong and resilient.

He spends time in the NICU holding his baby skin to skin (kangaroo care). He sings and talks to his baby.

He asks questions and makes decisions about his baby’s medical care.Parents in NICU w baby R

He is reassuring and comforting to the mother of his child, as she physically and emotionally heals from pregnancy and childbirth, and copes with fluctuating hormones.

A NICU dad runs pumped breastmilk to the freezer, washes bottles and encourages mom to pump if she can.

If there are other children at home, dad becomes the coordinator of the home front. He makes lunches, runs kids to school, helps with homework, and reassures the children that mom will be home soon. Dad takes care of pets, cleans, grocery shops and hopefully delegates tasks to family members and friends to help out.

Through it all, it can be hard for a dad to take care of himself. He needs sleep, good food and breaks to exercise and relax. It’s important that he takes the time to re-fuel so that he can be the best champion for his baby that he can be. Relying on friends and family to help may not come naturally at first, but a NICU dad soon learns that it takes an army to get everything done.

Although becdad-with-preemie2oming a dad in the NICU was not the original plan, every path to fatherhood is unique. It has its own rewards and lessons. March of Dimes recognizes every dad’s efforts and dedication. We know that every dad is making a difference in his baby’s life. Dads are important, appreciated and very much loved!

Do you have a NICU dad you’d like to honor? Please share your story with us.

 

Fathers help mold their children’s future

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

dad and babyAlthough this blog is called “News Moms Need,” this week we’d like to give a shout-out to dads. Fathers provide a specific kind of nurturing and support to babies and children. Research suggests that fathers who are active and present in their children’s lives may have a positive effect on their future development.

All fathers, and especially those of children who are born prematurely, with medical conditions or disabilities, play a vital role in their children’s care. They diaper, feed and soothe babies, attend IFSP or IEP meetings, advocate for their children, help with homework, and pitch in when and where they are needed.

In a study that looked at the experiences of first-time fathers of late preterm infants, the authors noted “Fathers believed they had the ‘best job in the world,’ yet saw fathering as the ‘biggest job ever.’ Fathers viewed fatherhood as an opportunity for personal growth and reflected on how their lives had changed since the arrival of their infant.”

Just as fathers are instrumental in molding their young children, they are also deeply affected when something goes wrong. We have heard from dads who lost a baby or child, and the grief they experience is deep and constant. Although they may grieve in different ways from the mom, they nevertheless experience profound pain.

Here are some facts about the increasing role of dads in the lives of their children:

  • Twenty percent of fathers (1 out of 5) are now the primary caregivers of preschool-aged children when the mother is employed.
  • The number of stay-at-home dads (in a home where the mom works) has doubled in the last 25 years.
  • In the last 40 years, the number of father-only families has more than tripled.
  • In one national survey, 95% of fathers reported they participate in bathing and diapering their children several times per week.
  • A recent government report stated “Although fathers continue to spend less time on childcare than mothers, this gap has narrowed over the past 10 years and dads are increasingly performing caregiving activities traditionally done by mothers.”
  • A Pew Research study reports, “The amount of time parents spend with their children continues to go up. Fathers have nearly tripled their time with children since 1965.”

There is no doubt about it – mothers and fathers bring a different dynamic to parenting. Both are critically important in the long, joyous but often arduous road of parenting, and deserve to be acknowledged.

To all the dads out there: what advice would you give a man as he is about to become a father for the first time?

 

Comments or questions? Send them to AskUs@machofdimes.org.

View posts in the series on Delays and Disabilities, here.

Is your husband pregnant?

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Since you found out you were pregnant, has your partner been complaining about many of the same symptoms you have had?  Morning sickness, weight gain, bloating and mood swings?  There may be a good explanation.  Believe it or not, some men do share in more than the simply the joy of being an expectant parent—they actually develop the physical symptoms of pregnancy.  This phenomenon has a name—it is called Couvade syndrome, although many people know it as a sympathetic pregnancy.  Couvade comes from the French word that means “to hatch.”

Scientists aren’t sure whether Couvade syndrome is a physical or psychological phenomenon—or a little of both.  Men actually do experience hormonal changes throughout their partner’s pregnancy.  According to an article in Scientific American “prolactin is highest in men in the weeks just before the birth, testosterone is lowest in the days immediately after the birth, estradiol levels increase from before to after the birth, and cortisol peaks during the labor and delivery (although it remains an order of magnitude below the hormonal experience of the laboring mother).”  So it seems that many of the same hormones that affect women during pregnancy also affect men as well—who knew?

But as of right now, the hormonal basis of Couvade syndrome has not been proven.  There are many other events that occur during pregnancy and around the time of childbirth that could affect a man’s hormone levels.  Stressors such as concerns about becoming a father, extended family coming in for possibly extended stays, and financial worries could also be contributing factors.  And, not all men experience pregnancy-like symptoms when their partner is expecting.  It is hard to know exactly how many men actually experience Couvade syndrome, but depending on who you ask, the estimates range from 20-80%.  Was your husband one of them?

Being an expectant parent is an exciting time for both moms and dads but it can also be stressful.  Becoming a dad, just like becoming a mom, begins before delivery.  If your partner is experiencing any pregnancy symptoms, just remember that they will go away soon—once your little one arrives, his symptoms will disappear.  And then you both will forget any of those unpleasant pregnancy symptoms and be entirely focused on the new little bundle of joy in your world!

Dads get depressed, too

Friday, May 21st, 2010

32439603_thb1About 1 out of every 8 women has postpartum depression after delivery. It is the most common complication among women who have just had a baby. Did you know that dad’s can experience it, too? While it’s true that she’s the one who gives birth, having a baby is a significant life changing event that can cause depression in men. New research indicates that up to ten percent of new dads experience postpartum depression, with the highest rates occurring in the three to six month range after baby arrives. These rates seem to be the highest among men who are stay at home dads and those whose partners are also experiencing postpartum depression. For more information, read our fact sheet, Postpartum Depression.

Colic in babies linked to depression in dads

Friday, July 10th, 2009

colic-baby-and-dadAccording to my mother in law, my husband was quite a crier as a newborn. She says that the only one who could comfort my colic hubby was his dad. I’m glad my father in law was able to soothe his crying baby. But since my hubby and I plan on having a baby one day, I hope our little one doesn’t have colic like her dad once did! Even though lots of babies may have colic, researchers still aren’t totally sure why some babies have it, and others don’t. Some babies may cry a lot because of gas or allergic reactions, but others have colic for no clear reason.

Interestingly, a large study from the Netherlands found that dads who were depressed during their baby’s time in the womb were more likely to have babies with colic. In the past, studies have found a link between mothers with depression during pregnancy and newborns with colic. But this is one of the first studies to see if there’s a relationship between a dad’s depression and his colic baby.

The study, published in this month’s Pediatrics journal, shows that the researchers made sure to find out if dads were depressed before the baby was born. This way, the researchers would know that dad’s depression wasn’t caused by baby’s excessive crying.  But it did show that if a dad was depressed before the baby was born, he was more likely to have a baby with colic. The researchers aren’t sure exactly why this is, but it’s interesting that there’s a relationship.

How did you manage a colic baby?

5 things for Father’s Day that won’t break the bank

Monday, June 15th, 2009

dadHere are five ways you and the kids can honor Dad on his special day without hurting the budget.  You’ll all have fun and Dad should be please with the attention.

1 – Wash his car – Put some soapy water in a bucket and hand the tots some rages.  They’ll have a blast slopping suds around while you clean the windows inside.  Just make sure you know who has control of the hose.

2 – Take Dad fishing.  Grab some poles and head for a lake, stream or pier.  Or, if none of you are into catching fish, how about going to an aquarium to watch them swim?

3 –  Call a few of his buddies and arrange for a “guys night out.”  You keep the small fry at home and he goes out for pizza and a game of hoops, or a bike ride or a sci fi movie.

4 – Plan a BBQ.  What’s Dad’s favorite grill food?  Burgers, hot dogs, steak, fish, chicken, portobello mushroom burgers, grilled veggies?  No grill?  Cook one of his favorite meals and have the kids make “placemats” with sheets of blank paper and a box of crayons.

5 – Write up a “Get Out of Jail Free” card for him to use whenever he wants.  He can skip the dishes, or taking the trash out, or picking up an older child from a friend’s house, or mowing the lawn one day.  It’s up to him to choose what and when – you just need to honor it when he wants to cash in.

He had it coming – Moms upset with dads

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

madThis is my favorite song in the musical, Chicago. Yes, it’s a little dark and sinister. But I think part of the reason I like this song is because it expresses an emotion (severe, mind you) that I can sometimes “understand.” Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to physically harm my husband for forgetting to put his dishes in the dishwasher or for always leaving his socks/pants/shirts on the floor instead of putting them in the hamper. But sometimes I get so aggravated… ARGHHH!!!

I’m glad to know that I’m not alone. The New York Times Motherlode blog recently had a post about how more moms are increasingly upset with their partners. It seems that a story on Parenting.com called “Mad at Dad” is getting a lot of readers’ attention. The Web site surveyed 1,000 moms and found that many of them feel frustrated, angry and irritated at their partners.

Things like not helping out more around the house (just expecting things to get clean), being clueless about their children’s daily needs (Timmy’s soccer game at 3, Sally’s dance class at 1:30), and not knowing the best way to care for their children (putting hats and gloves on the kids when it’s cold outside) are causing moms to be upset with their partners at least once a week or more. The survey also found that:
• 2 out of 5 moms are mad that dads can’t multitask
• 3 out of 10 moms are mad that dads don’t do their share of the chores
• 1 out of 2 moms feel that dads get more time for themselves than moms do
• 3 out of 5 moms don’t share with their friends about what they’re going through, or will make light of it

What do you all think? Do you feel the way some of these moms do? How do you cope with it?