Whether you’re still dealing with the shock or you’ve been waiting for this moment for years, finding out you’re going to be a father is a life-defining moment. It’s normal to have a mixture of feelings, from pure joy to outright terror, even if this is something you’ve always wanted. Honesty, it’s hard to ever feel completely prepared to become a father. However, we’ve got some tips that will help on your way to preparing for fatherhood.
Before your baby arrives is a great time to focus on your health. If you smoke, try to quit from today. Exposure to smoke during pregnancy has been shown to increase the risk of many diseases for babies. On top of that, having a good diet will help fuel your long days of the new parenthood. You can try to add some fiber-rich and immune-boosting foods to your meals. Also, have a quick health check with your doctor to make sure your body is totally ready for your baby.
Talk about Parenting with your Parent
This is a great time to start talking about the kind of parents you plan to be. Do you want the baby to sleep in a crib in their room as soon as you get home? Will both of you be working? What are your plans for childcare?
Remember that these things are still theoretical for both of you. Once the baby arrives your feelings may change. Breastfeeding might be more challenging than you had hoped or you may want to rethink your feelings about cloth diapering. There are also discussions that won’t be relevant just yet, but they are important nonetheless. Discussing discipline, including things like spanking, should happen before your child becomes a feisty toddler. Beginning the discussion now opens those lines of communication and helps you to get on the same parenting page.
Working As a Team
Speaking of being on the same page, now is the time to start thinking of yourselves as a team. You, your partner, and your baby are linked for life, even if your romantic relationship with your partner doesn’t continue. It’s a good idea to start viewing everything through that lens and letting go of keeping score as if you’re in a competition.
If your wife is feeling exhausted or dealing with morning sickness, helping her out is also helping you and your baby. Do whatever you can like picking up the slack on housekeeping, or making sure to check in on them every day. These are some ways you can support your common purpose and caring for your family at the same time.
Choose the Kind of Dad You Want to Be
Not everyone has a great relationship with their own father. If you’re lucky enough to have a great dad of your own, you may want to be just like him and that’s wonderful. But, if your dad left a lot to be desired you may feel nervous about your role as a father. The great news is that you get to decide how you approach parenthood. Find your own fatherhood role models. You’re creating this role from scratch and it’s up to you to decide how you want it to look.
Find Fellow Dads
On that note, it’s great to find some other fathers for your friend group. Having someone familiar with the challenges of parenthood gives you an outlet and a place to ask questions, vent, or commiserate about the experience of becoming a dad. You can find some online group or go through your doctor or friends.
Don’t Miss Any Appointment
Prenatal appointments are a great way to get excited about the pregnancy. Of course there is the experience of seeing your baby on ultrasound, but even the other routine checks can help you to connect with the pregnancy and learn more about what to expect. Also, you will have an opportunity to ask your questions, find out what your partner is experiencing, and learn more about your baby’s development.
While work schedules and other challenges may prevent you from attending every appointment, talk to your partner about creating a schedule that allows you to be there as much as possible. This can continue when the baby is the one scheduled for newborn checkups.
Changes in Your Sex Life
Becoming a dad can definitely have an effect on your sex life. From the first moment you learn your partner is expecting you might feel a range of emotions — intensely connected to them and craving the intimacy of sex, nervous about doing anything that may affect the pregnancy, or simply confused. This is another place where open communication is key. On the bright side, sex after a baby can be even better. You will feel the connection in ways you have never been.
Celebrate Every Milestones
Often the progress of pregnancy and the celebrations like baby showers are focused on the pregnant person, but you are part of this too. Go shopping with your partner to choose items for your baby. Keep a journal about how you’re feeling. Also, remember to take lots of pictures of you throughout your wife’s pregnancy as well. Documenting these life changes is just as important for you!
Sleep and Relax
Having enough sleep is important. There are many approaches to sleep and it may take some trial and error to find the right way for your family. What is important is that everyone is getting sleep. You may have to work tomorrow, but so does your partner. Sleep in shifts, take naps whenever you can, divide and conquer to take care of chores and responsibilities that need to get done so the other person can get a break. Whatever you do, make sure that everyone has a chance to rest.
Know that You’re Very Important
There will be many phases of your becoming dad experience. Sometimes you may feel disconnected or less important. It can be difficult to return to work or to feel like the secondary caregiver. However, having time to focus on working doesn’t make you a bad father, you’re providing for your family.
You’ll definitely have memorable moments. Think about the good time you will have when your baby is born when you are down. For example, when your baby says “dada” or holds your finger the first time. Fatherhood is about being in it for the long haul. Your presence in their life is a gift you give them and yourself every day.