SafeMotherhood
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WHAT TO EXPECT

Pros and cons

Parenthood has many positive and sometimes unexpected aspects. One father commented that he hadn't anticipated the physical pleasures of fatherhood.

"Holding, cuddling, changing and generally being close to the baby continue to be the things I look forward to. There's something very soothing and relaxing especially, I suspect, for a man, in rediscovering a source of mutual comfort and pleasure that's based on a touching and physical sensation which has absolutely nothing to do with sex. Just one of the compensations that a new father can set against the problems and the drawbacks." (Terence)

Two other fathers summarised their feelings:

"I had no expectations, which increases the wonder of parenthood as well as the shock of it. But we're enjoying having such a lovely sweet-tempered baby. I love seeing her smile. I know they say babies don't smile at this age, but she does!"

"I must admit that one of my first reactions to the news that my partner was pregnant was 'oh, no, I've lost my free time. This is the end of my life.'

"But now we've got Lucy I find myself happy to just sit and look at her, fascinated by the changing expressions on her face - she's adorable."

There is, however, no denying the 'con' of feeling irritable through lack of sleep and anxiety. You worry whether the baby is being fed too much or too little, if her nappy is being changed often enough, if she's getting enough or too much stimulation, or if she's breathing. First-time father Steve described experiencing "a level of exhaustion second to none in my whole life".

Lack of experience can make parents feel defensive and critical of each other. A problem such as colic can push you to the limit of your tolerance and worries about money can also weigh heavily. The important thing is to make sure you try to listen and consider each other. You will need to care for each other as much as you are able.

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