Top 10 Tips for Dads!

Excited, nervous, anxious, scared, overwhelmed, overjoyed — these are just some of the wide range of emotions you’ll feel when you experience the life-changing event that is becoming a parent for the first time.

This Father’s Day, we wanted to provide some tips and advice from our nurses to help ease those first-time parent jitters.

  1. Congrats on this amazing journey. If you and your partner have made the decision to breastfeed your baby, congratulations! Partner support is one of the biggest long-term indicators of breastfeeding success, so it is important that you support your partner as much as possible. Sign up for breastfeeding class and attend with her and learn as much as you can about how breastfeeding works. After the baby is born, many dads can feel left out because of the amount of time a breastfeeding mom spends with her newborn in the beginning, while the breastfeeding relationship is being established. Support mom and get your own bonding time in by doing the diaper changes, burping the baby, and bathing the baby. Encourage and support mom when she is lacking confidence, and help her find resources if things aren’t going well. Although you can’t breastfeed the baby, there are many ways that you can be close to the baby and take part in the care of baby and mother.
  2. Spend time with your baby and create a ritual or activity that is yours alone. Bonding and special time are important for you and your baby too.
  3. Participate in skin-to-skin. Bring a sweatshirt with a zipper to the hospital. During skin to skin with their baby they can take off their shirt wear their sweatshirt and zip the zipper up with their baby on their chest. Also when newborns are very fussy or crying, it is almost magical to see how quickly baby calms if dad takes off his shirt and places baby skin to skin on his bare chest.
  4. Your involvement is uniquely influential in the health status of your child. Each moment spent holding, bathing, feeding or reading to your baby, facilitates their growth and development. You are irreplaceable in the context of the coaching, modeling, teaching and encouragement that you instill. If you have an insecurity regarding your ability to balance work and families responsibilities or perhaps your own fathers involvement, remember that you are not alone. Forgive yourself when you make mistakes. Your contribution, point of view and playful attitude are necessary pieces of the puzzle which will guide and shape your child’s life – which cannot be replaced. A father’s love is unrivaled!
  5. Ask questions. If you are unsure of something, please don’t hesitate to ask your nurse or doctor.
  6. Take notes during discharge. You and your partner just welcomed your brand-new baby in the world, and now it’s time to bring the little one home. Mom is often exhausted and overwhelmed, be sure to take note of key points when the nurse is providing discharge information that you can share with your partner when you get home after she’s had time to decompress.
  7. Know when to say no. It’s okay to stand your ground and turn away visitors if you and your partner aren’t up for it.
  8. Mothers aren’t the only ones who suffer from postpartum depression/anxiety (PPD/A). Fathers experience depression and anxiety too.  Symptoms include depressed mood; significant weight gain or loss; restlessness; fatigue; insomnia or sleeping too much; feelings of worthlessness; difficulty with decision-making; and thoughts of suicide or death. It is important to watch for changes in mood or behavior, especially since you and your partner have just had or adopted a baby. If you suspect that you or a loved one is suffering, get help and contact your doctor. You can also check out these online resources.
  9. Savor this time. It seems like the older children get, the faster the time flies. Slow down and treasure these moments while they are still small.
  10. You are your child’s biggest hero. In their eyes, you are everything they aspire to be.  Be their best role model and biggest cheerleader.  This means more to them than anything.


My First AWHONN Convention So Far!

IMG_3629by, Melissa Strunc, RN

This was my first AWHONN Convention!

The first class I attended was on dealing with neonatal abstinence.  My hospital has a center for addiction and pregnancy and I deal with these babies almost on a daily basis, so when I saw that AWHONN offered a pre-convention seminar on shortening the length of stay for these newborns, I knew I just had to go!

The presentation by Maureen Shogan, MN, RNC, dealt with the newest changes in caring for these infants, and the latest research concerning shortening their length of stay. The first thing that stood out to me was when the Maureen said “Babies are not born addicted!” She proceeded to explain the definition of addiction, which included a pattern of compulsive behavior, impairment and behavioral control, and problems with interpersonal relationships. This certainly doesn’t sound like a newborn!

She clarified that these babies are dependent on the drugs their mothers are taking while pregnant, but are not “addicted”. The word addiction puts a negative stigma on these babies so early in their lives. The second thing that stood out to me was that these mothers, these patients who are doing this to their babies, are someone’s mother, sister, daughter, cousin. Their dysfunction is how they kept alive.

Maureen also presented information on cigarette addiction among these women who are taking other drugs and how this affects the babies’ withdrawal symptoms. She shared the latest research concerning this out of Dartmouth, where they were able to shorten the entire length of stay for these newborns when they factored in the nicotine dependence of these newborns among other slight changes to their approach.

She went on to discuss in depth the scoring system, and how to train nurses to become reliable, instruct parents prenatally and postpartum on what to expect from their babies during the hospital stay. She highlighted the importance of team training for staff in conjunction with psychiatry and finally the importance of the timing of scoring these babies so that we are not giving them unnecessary high scores when they may just be hungry.

Coming into this, I felt that my department was very good at scoring NAS babies, although I do see disparities myself from nurse to nurse. However, in this class I picked up on one specific category that we were scoring these babies higher than we should have, when one point should not have even been included in the scoring system.

I am so glad that I came to this pre-convention workshop, and I will be sharing everything that I learned with my colleagues when I return.

The second workshop I attended involved the rapidly deteriorating OB patient and how to pick up on warning signs, and follow through with the appropriate treatments, all the way through CPR (if necessary), and emergent delivery of the baby. One key point that stood out to me is to never ignore changing vital signs as these will be the earliest indicator that something is going wrong (as well as the fetal heart tracing).

I also had never heard about the importance of displacing the gravid uterus to the left during CPR! This seems so obvious after hearing it, but we do regular simulations on my unit (including the doctors), and I have never heard anyone bring this up!

My take-away quote from this workshop was “I can only control what I do”. I can’t control the doctors and other nurses, but I can take responsibility for my actions and reactions; and this will improve my patients’ safety.

IMG_3685The first general session had so many “ah-ha” moments for me, I don’t even know where to start. Not only was the presenter knowledgeable, but her words touched my heart and soul. It was uplifting and encouraging, at the same time challenging and convicting. As I sat there, I found myself wishing she could do the entire conference – and she’s not even an OB nurse! I left with tears in my eyes, and her presentation wasn’t even sad!! THANK YOU, Captain Beeson! I will definitely be hunting down these slides and sharing her words with my colleagues and managers concerning resilience!

One of the many quotes that stood out to me was, “Getting upset & complaining over silly, stupid things saps your energy from things that are important.” This can be translated into work, personal life, family, etc.

My favorite story she told was concerning crisis, and how there is so little complaining and negative attitudes in time of crisis. She shared a story about the time period after 9/11 when her military hospital sent a large number of their nurses to man a hospital ship off the coast of New York. She immediately started receiving calls, and was able to fill those spots in her hospital with nurses all over the area. It was such a touching story, and it really hit a chord when she said that this is the kind of nursing we need – crisis nursing without the crisis.

I know that I will start being more diligent in staying positive, speaking encouragement and positivity rather than feeding into the negativity. And, again, take responsibility for my actions in my area as well as never taking the “not my problem” attitude after attending this session.

I have already learned so much from this convention, and can’t wait to see what the next few days hold!



Happy Blogiversary AWHONN Connections!

When we posted our first blog below one year ago today we could not have imagined the wide-spread direct impact it has made on the lives of nurses and families based on the stories told directly from nurses and families.

THANK YOU to each of our 300,000 visitors for reading our 62 blogs on important, but difficult topics as Perinatal Bereavement in the ER, Nitrous Oxide from both the nurses and mom’s experiences, Postpartum Depression, challenges and opportunities for a better NICU experience, and the many many times Nurses have changed lives.

We have had our bloggers asked to speak on their blogs at hospitals around the country, to share their research to help improve the lives of others and to be used as education for upcoming nurses.

You can access our full history of topics from the drop down bar at the left – explore and enjoy!


Who are we?


We are registered nurses, nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives, researchers, and clinical nurse specialists who work in hospitals, outpatient settings, universities and community clinics.

We are just starting out, mid-career or executive leaders who all share a passion for healthy women and healthy babies.

We are parents whose lives have been touched by nurses.

We all have a story to tell. And we will be telling them once a week at AWHONN Connections.

Stories about nutrition, birth defects, breastfeeding, postpartum depression, touch, newborn screening, pre-term babies and full term babies, leadership, healthcare advocacy, and anything that touches the lives of women and babies.

Our stories will be empowering, heartbreaking, humbling, laugh-out-loud funny, and occasionally maddening.

Our stories will be real. Real nurses, real moms, real dads. Reals moms and dads that are nurses and nurses that everyday touch lives.

Every nurse has a story and every parent has had a nurse who has touched and impacted their lives. We thank you for your interest in our stories and your commitment to the health of women and babies.

Tell us your story or ask us more about ours in the comments below. You can always reach out at [email protected].

Here is where you can learn more about AWHONN, who we are, and what we do.