Surviving baby: first month





New Dad Diaries / Week 5 (Part 1)

Chronicling life as a new father to his beautiful firstborn child – daughter Thea – Chris Kerr’s goal is to provide all men experiencing fatherhood for the first time with some invaluable tips and tricks as they are learned – the hard way.  This week, Chris provides the survival tips that got him through the first month of fathering.

Thea is officially one month old.  I, her dad, seem to have aged 12 months in that same period which should tell you how all-consuming this wonderful but tiring season is. To help new dads navigate their first month, here are some survival tips to help you enjoy it.  In part 1, I talk about how you can help your wife and baby thrive during labour.  It’s an amazing experience, but full of challenges. 


  1. Navigating labour

First, a quick word on your birth plan:  Understand, in advance, what your wife wants during labour but be ready to change it.  Childbirth is safer now than ever before in history, but that doesn’t exclude the unexpected from occurring.  That was our experience.  We planned for a home birth, but ended up in Theatre.  Ultimately the health of your wife and baby is the top priority.  I recommend you do research beforehand so that you understand the different things that could happen during labour and the risks/benefits of each.  This helped us to say no to induction when the pressure was on (which ultimately led to a quicker birth for us).  Don’t be afraid to ask the Doctor/Midwife tough questions – but be humble enough to listen to them and make a decision you may not initially want to make. 

Other than that, your goal is to serve your wife when she is going through the process.  She will be in a lot of pain and she will be exhausted.  That is hard for any loving husband to see.  I know I hated the fact there was nothing I could do to take the pain away from her.  But be strong and do whatever she needs.  When your wife looks like she is at the end of her rope remind her about who she is about to meet.  Use humour in a respectful, timely and appropriate manner – it helps to diffuse the tension not just in your wife but also the midwives.  

Gamechanger: Taken moments after Thea was born. Life changed dramatically, but in the most wonderful ways for Chris and Alicia.
  1. Celebrate your wife as well as your new baby

You will have a newfound respect and appreciation for your wife after labour.  The strength, determination and courage they show in the many hours of labour is unbelievable.  Do not hold back your love and appreciation for her.  When she is telling family and friends about her experience, cut in and tell them how amazing she was.  She deserves to hear it.  I am still in awe of my wife and cannot begin to tell you how incredible she was. 


  1. Be a Baby Bouncer

After labour, your wife is going to be shattered, emotional and desperate to bond with your baby.  You will probably feel the same!  Your family and friends meanwhile will be excited to meet your new addition and will no doubt want to visit as soon as possible.  This is where you, the man, need to act as a Bouncer.  Establish with your wife who can visit and when (and for how long).  It is critical that your wife is able to rest and not entertain people when she doesn’t want to.  She may feel pressured to oblige but assure her that her health and baby’s health is all that matters right now.  A big thank you to my sister who told us to do this before Alicia gave birth and for our family/friends who gave us the space to recover.

Gatekeeper: Chris holds Thea on her first day of life. Protect this special bonding time for you and your wife.
  1. The dreaded drive home

I bought four ‘Baby on Board’ signs for the car and I wanted to stick them on every window to get other drivers to stay 50 yards away from us at all times.  In the end, my wife agreed to two signs being stuck on the windows.  Compromise is key to a good marriage!  What you actually need is a good car seat for an ‘age 0’ child.  Learn how to fit it beforehand so that you don’t have the stress of learning it on the day (some of them are ridiculously hard to fit).  That first drive home from the hospital is an experience.  I remember having a heightened level of awareness, knowing at-all-times what was going on around us at every angle.  That was easy as I was driving about 10mph in a 20mph zone, holding up about 30 cars in the process.  I am sure drivers further back thought the Queen was visiting for the day, such was the precession.  My advice, relax.  Drive safely and don’t take any unnecessary risks.  You will be fine! 

Slow and steady: Chris and his wife Alicia, who was ‘incredible’ and ‘awe-inspiring’ during labour get ready to drive home.

That’s all for part 1.  In part 2 (coming out later this week) I will give you my survival tips for your first month at home with mother and baby.  Nappies and all!


Tip of the week


You are a loving husband who cares deeply for his wife but resist asking her if she is ok every two minutes.  Instead, find ways to serve her e.g. put something funny on the television, cook her nice meals to help her keep up her strength and run her a nice bath.  She will be grateful.



Chris Kerr

Chris is a husband to Alicia and father to Thea, who is the subject of his columns on Fatherhood for Sorted.  In his spare time he works for a national law firm in an executive capacity and provides crisis leadership consultancy support for non-profits across the UK.  He attends Urban Crofters Church in Cardiff.  A keen weekend adventurer, Chris is regularly spotted in the sea or on mountains.

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