New dad: Tips to help manage stress

Becoming a new dad can bring joy — and stress. Find out how to deal with the difficulties of parenthood and develop a rewarding relationship with your newborn. By Mayo Clinic Staff

Becoming a father can be an exciting and overwhelming experience. As a new dad, however, you can take many steps to prepare for the emotions and challenges of fatherhood and connect with your newly expanded family. Understand how to make your transition to fatherhood less stressful and more fulfilling.

Recognize sources of stress

No one said taking care of a newborn would be easy. As a new dad, you might worry about:

  • Limited paternity leave. If you aren't able to take time off when the baby is born, it might be difficult to keep up your regular work schedule and find time to spend with your newborn.
  • New responsibilities. Newborns require constant care and attention. On top of feedings, diaper changes and crying spells, parents must find time to do household chores and other daily activities. This can be stressful for new parents who are used to a more carefree or independent lifestyle.
  • Disrupted sleep. Newborns challenge their parents' ability to get a good night's sleep. Sleep deprivation can quickly take a toll on new moms and dads.
  • Financial strain. The cost of your baby's delivery, health care, diapers, clothing and other supplies can add up quickly. The financial strain might be worse if you move to a bigger home or pay someone to take care of the baby while you work — or you or your partner takes unpaid leave or quits work to take care of the baby.
  • Less time with your partner. Having a baby means sharing your partner's attention with a third party. It's common for a new dad to feel left out.
  • Loss of sexual activity. Recovery from childbirth, physical exhaustion and stress can take a toll on your sex life, which might strain your relationship.
  • Depression. Research shows that some fathers — like mothers — experience depression shortly after a child's birth.
Mar. 22, 2012 See more In-depth