While Mom adjusts to the major physical and emotional changes that the birth of a baby brings, you will also experience a major alteration in your life. You may find that this new addition requires your mate’s undivided attention. In addition, visitors will also concentrate on the new baby and mother. At times, you may experience feelings of jealousy toward the infant if you feel neglected and left out. To avoid these feelings, become an active participant in the baby’s care. Offer to change diapers, give baths, and take the baby for walks. Do not hesitate to perform these tasks because you fear you may not do them exactly as your mate does. The important thing is that you are bonding with your baby and developing a lasting relationship. You may even be more skilled than your mate at performing certain baby-related jobs. You can do anything Mom can do—with the exception of breastfeeding.
If you are concerned that a family member will take over and not allow you the opportunity to interact with your newborn, encourage her to delay her visit until you go back to work. This way, your mate will have help for a longer period of time, and you can enjoy the first weeks with your new baby.
Remember the positive attributes of your parents and try to duplicate them. If you have any negative childhood memories, try to avoid the things your parents did to cause them and develop your own style of fathering. Learn from your parents’ mistakes and remember that no parent is perfect. Build on your strengths and those of your mate to develop a parenting style on which you can both agree.
You may find that your sexual feelings have changed since the birth of the baby. Some men find it difficult to view a woman who has become “a mother” as sexy right away. This Madonna complex may cause you to believe that sexual feelings are inappropriate. Others express ambivalence toward sex after viewing the birth of their baby. It may take some time before they can view the vagina as sexual, rather than as the opening that brought the new baby into the world. Your mate’s body will also have changed and may still retain some of the effects of pregnancy, including added weight and breasts that secrete milk. While many men find the larger breasts attractive, some are uncomfortable with touching or kissing breasts that may respond by squirting milk. They may feel that the breasts are no longer for their enjoyment, but only to nourish the baby. There may also be great concern over initiating intercourse if the woman had an episiotomy or a laceration.
Your partner may also be reluctant to resume intimacy if she is exhausted, worried that the baby will wake up, or concerned about pain. Take it slowly, and start by being romantic. Take her out on a date. Offer a full body massage. Gradually, you will find that she is more receptive to your touch and may be ready for sexual intercourse. If you are concerned about pain, first check the area for sensitivity by performing perineal massage and ask for feedback. Massage vitamin E oil into the scar tissue. During sex, use a good water-soluble lubricant and provide adequate foreplay. If the woman assumes the superior position, she can control the depth of penetration. This is especially important for women who had cesarean sections, since having the man on top may be too uncomfortable on the incision. While resuming sex may not be automatic and exactly as before, patience and understanding can make this aspect of your relationship just as fulfilling.
You may be pleasantly surprised by the enormity of your love for the new baby, even finding excuses to reduce outside interests so you can spend time with the baby. Many men reorganize their priorities and become more mature in the process. The huge responsibility of having a baby will offer you an opportunity to bond and to develop a lasting relationship with your child. While parenting is not easy, it offers tremendous satisfaction and benefits to those parents who invest their time and energy in their children.