How Dominic Bliss' Book is Helping Men Be Better Dads & Husbands
Dominic Bliss, journalist, author and father of two spoke with CareGuide about the second edition of his book A MAN’S GUIDE TO HAVING A BABY: Everything a new dad needs to know about pregnancy and caring for a newborn. Fathers to be won’t want to miss this entertaining interview while receiving practical advice on parenting — from a male perspective.
An Interview with Dominic Bliss Author of A Man’s Guide to Having a Baby
When it comes to parenting books and resources, from the male perspective, do you find that there is enough information available?
“There’s very little out there in terms of printed books. I think there’s quite a lot of information on the internet but it’s a bit haphazard, most parenting books, for obvious reasons, are aimed at the woman, and I think even those that are aimed at both parents, can be a little bit too PC.
In terms of the man. I wanted to do a no-nonsense book. Kind of like a guide, almost like a manual for the father. I know that sounds a little bit dry when you’re thinking of having babies, but men do approach life’s tasks in that kind of less emotional way than women do.”
What was the most difficult aspect of parenting for the first child and the second?
“I wrote this book four years ago, and it was published three years ago… the thing I found most difficult was that you absolutely lose your wife for a while. From being top dog in the relationship, you get relegated to the bottom, you almost feel like you’ve done your job and now thank you very much; the baby is the most important thing. You’re put in the back seat, which is totally normal. That’s what happen to all the men, the father is less important than the child.”
Based on your research, do you find that more men are fearful of parenting?
“Most of my research was done with men since they’re the readers, may be the reason men are more fearful about parenting is, there is less advice given to them. Everything is focused on the woman. So it’s purely an information thing if men were armed with more information may be they would be less fearful… in the old days, men weren’t considered in the birthing process. They were expected to turn up to the hospital with a cigar and celebratory drink with their friends and that was it. Whereas now, especially in the western world, men are absolutely integral to the birthing process.”
Getting involved and having more intimacy, does this lend itself to Couvade Syndrome? Or sympathetic pregnancy?
“Yeah, I think Couvade is such a rarity. I put down a section, it can be funny but sad I suppose. But, I think there is more stress on men because now because they’re expected to take a more active role in the birthing process.
Before, they literally had nothing to do with it. In the UK, we have something called the NCT, national childcare trust, where you go into classes as a couple before the baby is born. The information that the man is bombarded with, it’s really useful but suddenly it hits you. All the extra responsibility you have, such as birthing plans, and learning about your partner’s body as she changes.
If you’re unprepared, it can be daunting, which is part of the reason I wanted to write the book. To arm men with tools they needed.”
By the time you had your second child, did you feel like you were ready to go?
“Yeah, I think so. I absolutely learned more about childbirth writing this book than I ever did experiencing it. I wasn’t the most hands on father. I wish I written the book before I had children because it would have helped me immensely and I would have been more hands on.
Having written the book after I had children I feel like I was more qualified to write it. I think I created a better book.”
When it comes to Postpartum Syndrome (PPD) or Baby Blues? Did you go through a form of male PPD?
“I don’t think I suffered from any baby blues more than any other man. A lot of men don’t admit this but you do become a little bit jealous of the baby initially because you’re losing your wife.
It sounds really childish and selfish but we all get to a certain degree… It is a fact that some fathers get it quite badly. You don’t instantly love our baby. Like most mothers do. Most mothers the minute the baby emerges into the world, they instantly fall in love with them, some fathers take time to fall in love with their babies. I’ve talked to a lot of dads and when they’re honest they admit that. The cliche is ‘oh yeah, the minute the baby emerges the father is head over heals in love with the baby’. That’s not always the case and I stressed that.”
Another section of the book, you talked about scans and knowing the sex of the child. Do you find that is most practical these days?
“I maintain that it can be a very good thing not to know the gender of the child in advance because, it almost gives you a psychological drive through the tough times of the pregnancy and certainly through the tough times of the childbirth, you’ve kind of got this reward, this present at the end of it. The surprise of that gender is the gift at the end of the tough childbirth.”
You broke down the trimesters and the woman’s’ changing body. Do you find that men lose attraction when the woman’s body changes?
“Yes, that does happen, but for most men, it increases attraction for their pregnant wives. Let’s be honest, your partner’s body is going to change immensely. She will have mood swings, she will put on weight… There are lots of physical things you have to deal with but that just part of pregnancy. I think most men are prepared for that.
Another thing I will say, women go through a period of the pregnancy when they take on this beauty. Her skin is beautiful, they look healthy and fecund and very attractive. It’s not all bad news I would say.”
One thing that most parents have is sleep. When it comes to babies and sleep, what did you want to help fathers understand?
“We were sticklers for establishing a strict sleep routine with the baby. So we put the blackout blinds in the firstborns room. We made sure that she was interacting with us during the day and at night time it was very much the time for sleeping.
We had bedtime routines and baths and stories even when she was very young. We would make sure that naps and the feeding were all taken at a strict time. I think that helped us with the sleeping.
You’ve got to accept the fact that you’re going to be sleep deprived as apparent.”
Years ago, men wouldn’t be in the room when the wife was giving birth. These days, men are more involved. Is this better?
“I don’t know anyone among my peers, who wasn’t there to witness the birth of their children unless they happened to be away or abroad… It’s absolutely the norm, especially in the western world. The father is present during the birth.
I don’t know if I enjoyed it but it enriched me and it’s a memory that will stay with me forever and we had, not easy birth but not difficult births.
I cut the umbilical cord of my firstborn, she was born in a birthing pool. It was quite an amazing experience in terms of the science of it and obviously the emotion behind it.
I would urge men to experience if they can. It’s one of life’s great experiences. Why miss it?”
This book is great, I enjoyed the comedic tone while appreciating the message. It’s really direct…
“We didn’t want to tiptoe around the edges. I was very keen on telling it exactly like it is. You know the whole manual, a car user’s manual.”
Do you have any plans for a second book?
“This book actually covers the first year of a child life. I think there are several books out there beyond that. For toddlers and young children, bringing them up, rearing them. There is advice out there.
I think so much of that depends on where you live. Whether you’re in the countryside or the city. What culture you come from, your cultural background, what schools are available. It is very difficult to write a manual for that. Whereas childbirth is a catch-all situation. Once they get past the first year, there are so many different factors.”
To keep up with Dominic you can follow him on Twitter: @DominicBliss and to purchase his books visit: Dominic Bliss’ Author Page on Amazon.
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