Having a baby is amazing but your life will never be the same again. Learn more about returning to work, dealing with stress and juggling life with a baby
Maximise your time off
The first few weeks are an important – and wonderful – time of establishing your new little family. It helps to take as much time off work as you can (Family Matters Institute, 2017). It’s a lovely time to just hang out with your baby and soak it all in. Plus, you’ll be able to enjoy getting to know your baby a lot more if you’re not stressed out by a busy work day (Beattie et al, 2014).
Watch Greg talk about his first year of fatherhood, including the challenges he’s encountered and the most exciting moments of his son Alexander’s development.
Many dads find that staggering their return to work, if possible, can ease the transition. This can allow them to get used to balancing work and their home life more gradually (Machin, 2018).
Having you around will also make a huge difference to your partner, too. If she had a caesarean birth, premature baby, a baby with special needs or twins, your support will be even more important.
Your rights for leave
It is still common for mums to be the parent who stays home with their baby in the early months. But there is more recognition about the important role that dads play in the care of their family.
Fortunately, there is much more flexibility around work – especially with the introduction of shared parental leave (Gov.UK, 2018). This scheme allows both parents to share a ‘pot’ of leave from work.
How you share out that leave will depend on lots of factors. You and your partner will have to make a decision based on things like who earns the most, how much money you spend, and what your jobs are.
You might find your attitude to work changes too. On the one hand, work as a means of providing for your family might seem more important. But it might give you a different sense of perspective on work as a means to an end – nothing beats those cuddles, after all.
Life as a couple: your relationship after birth
You’ve entered a new phase of your relationship with your partner. Things will never quite be the same again. As incredible as that might be in lots of ways, it can be harder, too. It might be rare for you to have time alone together anymore. And did we mention you’re also both going to be really tired?
Remember, through the exhaustion, to make time for each other (Relate, 2018). Try to sit down together and talk about what you've been doing that day and how you're coping, even if it feels like an effort. Read more about how to talk and listen to each other as new parents here.
Stress after childbirth
You might find you can’t just come home and veg out like you used to. There’s a baby to look after as soon as you set foot in the door now.
Juggling work and your home life is one of the biggest causes of stress for new dads (Machin, 2018). It can even lead to mental health problems, and paternal postnatal depression. So it’s really important to try and find ways to counteract this stress.
Time to yourself is important, as it can sometimes feel like your child has taken over your life. Make sure you still spend time doing things you enjoy. It’s a good idea for you and your partner to carve out some ‘me’ time during the week or weekends where you take turns to look after your baby to help you both relax and recharge.
This page was last reviewed in April 2019.
Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700.
Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what NCT activities are happening nearby.
Directgov has full, up to date information on your paternity rights in the workplace.
Working Families, an organisation focusing on the work-life balance in families, has a useful tool which will can help you understand how working different hours could affect your finances.
Beattie L, Kyle SD, Espie CA, Biello SM. (2014) Social interactions, emotion and sleep: a systematic review and research agenda. Sleep Med Rev. 24:83-100. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1087079214001579?via… [Accessed 1st July 2018]
Family Matters Institute. (2017) Why paternity leave is important. Available at: https://www.dad.info/relationships/having-kids/why-is-paternity-leave-i… [Accessed 1st July 2018]
Gov.UK. (2018) Shared parental leave and pay. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/shared-parental-leave-and-pay [Accessed 1st July 2018]
Machin AJ. (2018) The life of dad: the making of the modern father. Simon & Schuster, London.
Relate. (2018) How to maintain a healthy relationship after a baby has been born. Available at: https://www.relate.org.uk/relationship-help/help-family-life-and-parent… [Accessed 1st July 2018]