Becoming a Dad: How Men Prepare for Fatherhood
So, you’re going to be a father. For many men, this is an almost incomprehensible change that is easy to feel ill-prepared for. You may worry whether you have it what it takes to be a good dad or afraid of the changes a child will certainly bring to your relationship and your life. How can you prepare for becoming a father? What can you do to help baby’s mother during delivery?
Preparing materially for a baby
Many dads-to-be fret about how they are going to afford a child, and with good reason; raising a child takes resources. It’s a good idea to talk to your partner’s doctor and/or your insurance provider to get a sense for what the immediate costs will be once baby is born. You can start setting aside a few dollars each week during the pregnancy so when baby is born you have some extra money to help pay for diapers, childcare, or any unexpected expenses. It can be a bonding experience working together to prepare for baby by setting up the nursery, shopping together for baby essentials, and going to prenatal visits (it’s fun to see an ultrasound of your little one!).
Communicate with your partner during her pregnancy
Pregnancy is demanding for women both physically and emotionally. Try to be sensitive to her discomfort. Communication throughout the process of pregnancy and delivery will help both you and your partner exponentially.
• Take a birth class with your partner and read up on the basics of delivery so you know what to expect before she goes into labor.
• Discuss the birth plan with her so you are both on the same page, but be flexible – sometimes during delivery, things don’t always go according to plan.
• You can help her if she is unable to answer questions for the labor and delivery staff by voicing her preferences.
• Talk with other dads both old and new about what it is like becoming a dad and what you can expect.
• Check with your employer about paternity leave.
Helping your partner get through labor
Your most important mission when your partner goes into labor will be to distract her from the pain and encourage her to keep going. Help her stay focused and positive.
Be her advocate during labor – she may not be her most clear-headed self and will need your special help. Talk together before she goes into labor and discuss all the things you’ll need to do. For example, you might be tasked with calling and texting family and friends to keep them informed on the delivery and birth of your child. Your partner will need comfort during labor. Just being by her side and holding her hand might not seem like much, but that small gesture can help her feel like you support and honor her as the mother of your child.
Don’t forget to pack a change of clothing and some entertainment for yourself, as well. Lots of new dads choose to stay overnight in the hospital or birthing center with mom and baby.
Remember that no new parent knows what they are doing; you get on-the-job experience and learn as you go. You don’t have to know everything about being a parent – like how to get your baby to sleep or what a baby should eat – before he/she is born. Taking care of and raising a child is a big responsibility, but becoming a father doesn’t mean the end of your independence. It simply means you have a new playmate to take with you on your adventures.
What advice or questions do you have about becoming a dad?