Dr Grant Blashki

Dr Grant Blashki is a practising GP and beyondblue's lead Clinical Advisor

Becoming a new dad is one of the most exciting times in a man’s life – words can’t quite describe the wonder of bringing a new person into the world. At the same time, it is an enormous life transition.

Many new fathers might be thinking, "how am I supposed to be responsible for this new person in the world, I haven’t even got myself sorted out!" This is quite a common feeling, and the truth is no-one ever feels quite ready!

First-time dads can also feel the extra pressure of having to be the rock in the family and are very often under financial pressure. Meanwhile, they’re trying to learn new skills such as settling the baby or changing a nappy, and they quickly discover that babies don’t come with an instruction manual.

It’s a little bit luck-of-the-draw when it comes to how well your baby sleeps, but pretty much all new parents experience at least some sleep deprivation in the early months. If your baby is very unsettled and getting very little sleep, visit your GP to see if there is a health issue that is upsetting your baby.BEY1690_Illustration_AdjustingToLifeAsANewDad_1440x516px_InTextHaving this new little person in the world consuming all mum’s attention is also a big change, and this adjustment can impact your relationship with your partner. This can manifest itself in how you communicate, spend time together and your sex life. The tip to staying on top of things is to stay on the same team as your partner. If you’re the one who has been at work and your partner has been looking after the baby all day, when you get home make sure you take five minutes to genuinely listen to how each other’s days were before launching into baby and home duties. Don’t forget to give some attention to your relationship. Remember the small things like nice texts and small gifts make a big difference. If you are lucky enough to have extended family or friends’ support, try to get as much help as you can, especially during those early months.

Check out beyondblue’s Dadvice website, which has great video resources and discussions from other new dads about how they have managed. You can also sign up for an email program whereby you put in your baby’s birthday, and you will be sent relevant emails throughout the various phases of your baby’s development.

If you find that your stress levels are going through the roof, take the Dad’s Stress Test on the beyondblue website. It can be a prompt to get some assistance if necessary.

Even though being a new father can be very time-consuming, try to carve out a bit of time to get some exercise. Try to also make time during your week, even if it’s just for an hour or two, to catch up with friends. This is so important for your overall wellbeing.

If, as a couple, you really are not managing, put your hands up early for help. There are lots of resources in the community including Maternal and Child Health Centres, and even sleep clinics that can help mum and baby get into a good rhythm.

If you feel you are experiencing mental health issues, contact the beyondblue Support Service on 1300 224 636 anytime or speak to your GP as a good starting point to determining whether you should see a mental health professional.

Related reading: The rhythm of healthy relationships

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