As a new dad, your role is no less complicated than your wife's. No, you didn't have to carry the baby for nine months, but you did have to make adjustments physically and emotionally as the due date approached and preparations for the baby became all important. On one hand, you may have felt as if you had nothing to do with this birth; but on the other, this is very much your baby, too.

Father's Conflicting Emotions

When the baby finally arrived, you may have been tremendously relieved as well as excited and somewhat awed. In witnessing your baby's birth, feelings of commitment and love may have surfaced that you had worried you might never feel for this child. You also may experience a greater admiration and love for your wife than you ever felt before. At the same time, contemplating the responsibility of caring for this child for the next 20 years can be more than a little unnerving.

The best approach to deal with these conflicting emotions is to become as actively involved in fathering as possible. For example, depending on the hospital and your own schedule, you may be able to "room in" with mother and/or child until it's time to bring the baby home. This will help you feel less like a bystander and more like a key participant. You'll get to know your baby right from the start. It also will allow you to share an intense emotional experience with your wife.

Once the entire family is home, you can and should help diaper, bathe and comfort your baby. Contrary to old-fashioned stereotypes, these jobs are not exclusively "woman's work." They are wonderful opportunities for all of you - mother, father and even older siblings - to get to know and love this new family member.

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