Before we become fathers, we are free to live like children ourselves.  We work towards our own ends, we engage in relationships to satiate our own needs and desires, we enjoy leisure-some pursuits based entirely on what we enjoy.

Fatherhood, by necessity, changes our focus and our lifestyle.  For myself, fatherhood was the precipitating factor in my finally and irrevocably, growing up.  I believe that most new fathers (and their partners!) would agree that this is certainly not a detrimental change.

However, this new role and the emotional metamorphosis required by it can be emotionally displacing, even daunting. With our first child, as mum’s gestation snowballed implacably, realisation gradually dawned in my heart that we had in fact committed ourselves to the creation and nurture of a new being.


The arrival of our new family member approached inexorably. Increasingly, I abandoned my customary thoughts of self as I considered more the implications of my impending new role as a “family man”.

Though the prospect of having children delighted me, I felt, frankly, scared. I was unsure of my own knowledge, ability and commitment. Even, though I am ashamed to admit it, a little resentful at the idea that perhaps my life was to be no longer entirely my own. Plagued by these doubts, I set my helm on the course of fatherhood at full steam ahead.

Restless, maybe even a little bit manic in my mission to attend to mum’s every need, reassure her of my love and commitment, and prepare our corner of the world for the new arrival.

Natural Transition

My (first) daughter arrived 8lb 12oz, by natural birth, on Remembrance Day some years ago.  This was the most memorable experience of my life.  In the subsequent weeks, I discovered to my great relief that I was in fact prepared to be a dad.

The burgeoning love in my heart for my life partner and the desire to forge positive and healthy change in our own lifestyle to accommodate our children, were the only necessary prerequisites! Everything I needed to learn about fathering could be gleaned from other parents, commonsense, instinct and most importantly, from the little person herself.

Time and understanding are the key ingredients.  It is absolutely imperative that a new father spends time with his freshly-squeezed baby. We need to bond. We need to gain confidence. We need to learn.

A practical and enjoyable way for a dad to spend time with his bundle of joy is bathing.  At most maternity hospitals, the midwives are more than happy to give fathers some cursory instruction in the practice of bathing a newborn.

I learned from a friendly midwife at King George V hospital in Sydney and have since refined my technique into an organised, confident and dad-friendly procedure.

Catch next week’s issue for a step-by-step on how to prepare, bathe and massage your baby.

Photo by Ольга Танчик.

Published On: September 10th, 20220 CommentsTags: , , , , , , ,

About the Author: Jason Emslie

Jason is currently a Flood Plain Management Engineer at Wollongong City Council and a creative father of five children.

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