Tips for the Father-to-Be
Pregnancy is a time of preparation for fathers, as well as for mothers and babies. Your baby is preparing for life outside the womb, you are preparing for birth and motherhood and the dad-to-be is preparing for the lifelong relationship of fatherhood. True, Dad’s body isn’t undergoing the remarkable changes that yours is. Still, his experiences during pregnancy can be as varied and intense as yours. Dads can take advantage of this time to prepare on every level—emotionally, intellectually, physically and spiritually—for your baby’s upcoming birth.
Share these tips with the father-to-be to help prepare him for this next adventure:
Consider what fatherhood means to you. Explore your relationship with your own father. Think about happy memories you may have with your father. What was it about these experiences that gave you a positive view of fatherhood? Or, if you have disappointing memories of your father, think about what you would do differently. Who are some dads that you admire? What makes them good fathers in your eyes?
Talk openly with your partner about her pregnancy and both of your hopes for parenthood. How do you see your role as a father? What responsibilities do you expect that she will take on? Each of you has your own unique contribution to make to parenting. Recognize your strengths and discuss how you will share the responsibilities of parenting.
Reach out to other expecting fathers. You can support and learn from one another. Lamaze childbirth education classes give you a chance to meet other new dads. You may even build friendships that last well beyond your child’s birth.
Learn from other fathers. Talk with them about how they built confidence as new dads. How did they cope with challenges they faced? What worried them as they moved into fatherhood, and how did they handle those concerns? If you haven’t spent much time around babies, take advantage of opportunities to become comfortable around them.
Identify your fears. Common fears dads face include concern about your changing relationship with your partner, fear for the safety of your partner or baby, and financial worries. Think about where each fear comes from and how it manifests itself. Educate yourself and become more knowledgeable about your fears. For example, if you are concerned about your changing role, talking with other fathers who have adapted well may help you identify ways to cope.
Go to prenatal visits. These appointments are not just to check on the baby and the mother. They also provide plenty of education about parenthood and are a great way to connect with your partner, get comfortable with her care provider, and help prepare both of you for labor and birth.
Learn more about pregnancy and birth. Reading a book about healthy pregnancy, such as The Official Lamaze Guide: Giving Birth with Confidence, 2nd edition or The Birth Partner, can help you understand what you should expect during pregnancy, birth and after the baby comes, and how to best support your partner. Or, you may enjoy reading a book written just for fathers. The Expectant Father: The Ultimate Guide for Dads-to-Be, by Armin Brott and Jennifer Ash, is a good choice.
Taking Lamaze classes with your partner will also help you make informed decisions during pregnancy and birth. Talk over your questions about pregnancy and birth with your partner, and with her care provider, if you need to.