Key Points for Fathers in Infant Care During Postpartum Period

Expectant mothers naturally require a lot of care during pregnancy, which might make you, as an expectant father, feel insignificant. However, this notion is completely wrong. The presence of an expectant father during pregnancy can reduce the rates of preterm birth and neonatal mortality. Compared to expectant mothers without the company of their child's father, those who are accompanied have a 50% higher chance of receiving appropriate medical care during pregnancy; they are also 36% more likely to quit smoking during pregnancy.

During the waiting period for the baby's birth, besides purchasing a crib and a car seat, there are many other tasks that require your attention. You can actively accompany the expectant mother to visit birthing hospitals, help her formulate a birth plan, and attend childbirth and breastfeeding classes with her. You can play the role of a birth coach, guiding the expectant mother on proper breathing and posture during labor, and providing the necessary support when she needs it.

Once the baby is born, you can engage in kangaroo care with the newborn. Ideally, the newborn should be breastfed by the mother as soon as possible, but reality doesn't always align with this ideal: if the mother requires medical treatment, the newborn will first be held by the father. Compared to newborns who are placed in a crib within two hours after birth, those held against the father's chest cry less, fall asleep faster, and are less likely to be overly restless. In any case, the mother needs some care, and the father has the opportunity to enjoy the intimacy that skin-to-skin contact with the newborn brings. If the newborn needs to stay in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), the father's role can be even more significant. Among preterm infants who have stayed in the NICU, those who were accompanied by their fathers more often showed better developmental outcomes at three years old.

Although fathers cannot breastfeed, they can play a significant role in successful breastfeeding by bringing the newborn to the mother and helping to adjust the baby's position. Note that breastfeeding can make the mother feel very thirsty, so offering her a glass of water is greatly appreciated. After feeding, fathers can change the baby's diaper and safely place the baby back in the crib or cradle.

The arrival of a newborn inevitably deprives the mother of sleep, and the father can help alleviate this burden. New parents can take turns changing diapers, feeding (if bottle-feeding), and gently rocking and soothing the baby. Even just a few extra hours of sleep can help new parents better cope with the stress of raising a child.