Feelings of fatherhood

Newly baked father? Tips for dealing with the new family situation

Feelings of fatherhood? Why it's so important to talk about it!

Finding your way into the role of father is not always easy: Am I doing everything right? Does my child actually need me as much as the mother? Can I sometimes long for my old life? New fathers are familiar with such thoughts. To ensure that these and similar feelings don't rob you of the joy of being a father, one thing is particularly important: be aware of them and talk about them!

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One thing is certain: fathers may not be able to give birth and breastfeed, but they are otherwise just as capable of caring for their children lovingly and responsibly as their partners. Nevertheless, women and men naturally have different approaches to pregnancy and childbirth due to their biological conditions:

Your child will grow in your partner's womb, she will give birth to it - certainly with your support - and will probably breastfeed it.

Recognizing unwanted feelings

Many men feel they are clearly at a disadvantage as a result. If you also feel disadvantaged, less significant or marginalized in this way, it is important to talk openly with your partner and/or good friends, who ideally also have children. This is because feelings that have been ignored or suppressed for a long time can manifest themselves in psychological or physical problems, and in extreme cases can also lead to aggression and thus hinder you in building a loving relationship with your child.

So: consciously focus on the downsides of fatherhood. Having children doesn't mean pure, uninterrupted happiness for anyone, even if we may have images of such glowing families in front of our eyes. In fact, you and your partner are going through an incredibly magical, but also massive and frightening upheaval in your life.

From perception to action

Acknowledging and talking about all the unfamiliar changes and feelings in your transition to fatherhood is one - quite challenging - half of the job. But you can also use these feelings to actively and creatively shape the transition: For example, try to get to know as much as possible about your child while you are still pregnant. Find out about its development, imagine how it is growing and make contact with it in your thoughts. You can also talk to him directly and tell him something about yourself and the world outside.

After the birth

Even after the birth of your child, it is important that you take good care of yourself! What happens inside you when your child is born? What feelings does the new family member trigger in you? Especially in the first weeks and months after the birth, many fathers sometimes have the feeling of being excluded because nothing at home is the same as it used to be. Mother and child sometimes seem like an inseparable unit and some fathers feel like intruders in this idyll, withdrawing and preferring to concentrate on what they know, such as gainful employment.

Some fathers also become jealous of their child during this time and urge their partner to stop breastfeeding as early as possible, for example, so that they no longer have to put up with the mother being able to give their child more physically during this phase of the relationship. Several studies have proven this connection between the father's attitude towards breastfeeding and the actual success and duration of breastfeeding.

And here again, the most important thing is: talk about it! If you feel a pang of jealousy; if you have the feeling that there is no more room for togetherness and eroticism with your partner: Express these feelings in one of the rare quiet moments! Find good ways of dealing with these impulses together, if possible without pressure. Perhaps you will soon be able to create time slots with your partner in which everything is possible, but not necessary - and which can also be interrupted by your child from time to time. This is much more inviting and joyful than frustrated reproaches, which usually nip pleasure in the bud.

Your time with a child

Other than that, the best way to combat jealousy towards mother and child is of course to take as much time and space as possible with your child. This is also possible when breastfeeding - during the increasingly long breaks between feeds or with expressed milk. Discuss such explicit father-child times with your partner. The relief will also do her good and the intensive contact with your child is guaranteed to make up for a lot. After all, you're not just giving up part of your old life, you're also getting a whole new and exciting life.

Expert tip on the topic of "Problems in a couple's relationship

The birth of the first child fundamentally changes a couple's relationship. "You" and "I", wife and husband, become parents. How do you manage to grow into your new role as a father and remain a loving partner at the same time? Achim Schad, couples and family counselor from Wuppertal, addresses conflict issues that often concern young parents. Whether it's the emotional world, sexuality or the division of responsibilities between family and career - becoming a father turns all areas of life upside down and promotes crises of change. Achim Schad focuses on tolerance and understanding in order to stabilize the couple's relationship and himself as a man or father in turbulent times.

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Where can we find help and advice?

External help: If stressful feelings seem too overwhelming or you feel that you can't find access to yourself or your new situation as a father, talking to your partner, family and friends won't help. In such situations, don't be afraid to seek outside help.

The men's advice network brings together advice services that specialize in the concerns and conflict situations of boys, men and fathers. You can use the counseling map to find a counseling service near you.

The free family education program "Elternstart NRW" offers both mothers and fathers with children in their first year of life a framework for advice and exchange in the new family situation. The courses are funded by the NRW Ministry of Family Affairs and take place in around 150 family education facilities. You can find an offer near you on the portal Familienbildung-in-nrw.de.

Information on the family education program "Elternstart NRW" can be found on the portal Chancen NRW.


Personal stories and experiences from fathers in NRW can be found on our YouTube channel.