There are no ultimate guides on how to prepare dads for a baby.
Having a new baby in the clan is very challenging, not just for mothers but also for fathers who also now need to put their child’s needs before their own.
While some sacrifices do need to be made, being a dad can be so enjoyable and one of the greatest life experiences there is. In many ways being a dad can be tougher because they are not encouraged to talk about their emotions and share their experiences the same way that mothers are. But the truth is that dads are a big part of the baby’s life and will feel the ups and downs as much as anybody.
It’s well known that pregnant moms have big emotions but dad often feels things too from unexplainable emotions too right through to hot flushes and restlessness. So, Dad’s-to-be, while you can never be fully prepared for a little one, we have compiled whatever we can to at least help you manage your expectations. Here are some tips to be emotionally and physically ready for your baby’s arrival.
Be emotionally ready for anything – Your partner’s changing moods may be difficult to deal with; joy, anxiety, fear, sadness and excitement may all be present in the space of five minutes. As a result of changing hormones, a pregnant woman experiences mood swings. Understand her but also explain your thoughts to her. If you’re having a hard time dealing with her switching moods, weird cravings and unusual forgetfulness; tell her. Your partner will need extra care and affection from you but you still have to practice fairness in your relationship.
Get nesting – some dads will feel the restless urge to clean everything from top to bottom, a pregnancy side effect known as nesting. It’s normal to want your home to be clean and dust-free ahead of your new arrival. If you don’t naturally have nesting tendencies, clean frantically anyway. It will help your partner who will be desperately trying to maintain a clean safe house for your child, even while heavily pregnant.
Exercise together – Join your partner in her daily exercises. Joining in is a great motivation for her to stick with it and stay with the routine and it’s a great way to spend time together and talk. Exercise reduces stress, increases strength, and helps and decreases the risk of complications during your baby’s delivery.
Sleep – Yes, you read it right. Sleep. Take a rest while you’re waiting for your little one to come out. Babies have the ability to make their babysitters’ zombies. So while you have the chance to have a good night’s sleep, especially since your partner might not be sleeping well and maybe needing a hand with decision making and staying calm, this is much easier to assist with when you are well-rested.
Be her coach – During labour, your wife will feel unexplainable pain, in some cases pain that seems too much to bear. This will be especially tough for women who have requested natural birth. Be a motivator. Stay emotionally strong and help her during her contractions; encourage her to stay focused.
Stay calm, no matter what – Even if you are scared, frustrated with the situation or unsure about what is normal, leave the baby delivery to the doctors and midwives and focus on keeping your wife calm and as relaxed as possible. Praise her efforts and tell her how strong and beautiful she is.
It’s normal to feel fear in the midst of this situation but your wife and your child need you. As much as possible, be the bravest in this state and set an example of what she needs to be to get through. If you go flying off the handle it will make her job much harder.
Stay physically awake– it will be exhausting waiting for your baby to be delivered. Right after your baby’s delivery, your wife will need your assistance too. Make sure to eat and take some rest during the birth so you can be there to look after your partner and the baby afterwards.
Be flexible– you and your partner probably have a birth plan but these won’t always work out on the day. Expect the unexpected and be ready to make a quick decision if needed. Take in the doctor’s advice as well as your partner’s wishes. At the end of the day, a safe and healthy baby is the result you are looking for.
Give your little one a warm welcome – it’s not true that only a mother’s touch can soothe your baby and release oxytocin from their brain. Skin to skin contact from you helps just as much as mom. Through your hugs, you will create a strong bond between you and your child. Take your shirt off or tuck Baby under your shirt for the proper skin on skin touch.
Be alert – postpartum depression is a big issue for many mothers after giving birth. When your wife feels deep sadness and hopelessness, try to be more affectionate, spend time with her and make sure to listen to her. Assure her it’s okay and encourage her to see a GP about a referral. Knowing these feelings are hormonal and not about her will make a big difference so be sure to look for signs and be ready to help lift her out of trouble if needed.
For those dads who are looking for more simple tips, this list is just what is needed for helpful contribution:
- Family health insurance– Make sure you have the budget or insurance to cover all your hospital needs. Some insurance policies are different for birth so make sure you know where you stand and what you are responsible for financially.
- Time contractions – there are apps you can use to help make this easier. There will probably be plenty of false alarms so timing the contractions is the best way to know when it really is time to go to the hospital.
- Distract her – it’s hard to wait for a baby so find ways to distract your partner with some fun or relaxing things to do. This is an important one when contractions start as well. In the movies, it’s always a mad dash to the hospital when the water breaks but in reality, most moms have hours to wait until their contractions get close enough together to get admitted to the labour ward. Run a bath for her, give her a gentle soothing back rub, look at some photos together to help make the time pass.
- Bring cash– You’ll need to have money at the hospital for the cafeteria, drug store or unexpected bits and pieces. Make sure you bring small cash too for vending machines on the hospital floors.
- Fill in paperwork and take care of payments– Your partner has enough on her plate so put yourself in charge of any hospital paperwork and payments. That also means having any legal documents on hand, like your birth certificates. Just note that if you haven’t decided on a name for Baby, that’s okay, you can lodge your birth certificate paperwork later on when you and your partner have had time to talk it over and settle on the perfect names.
- Bring your important gadgets– make sure you pack your mobile phone, iPad etc and the charges for these. Believe me, you need a support team to encourage you too, as well as ways to share the wonderful news.
- Take care of yourself– It’s hard to wait when you’re hungry. Make sure to bring snacks just in case the delivery is along with one and step out of the room for some fresh air and reset whenever you need to.
You may also be interested in the 11 Top Ways to Prepare for a New Baby.