Advice for dads-to-be on how to prepare for the birth of your new baby, bond with your baby and support the baby’s mum at home
Congratulations, you’re going to be dad! Once the initial feelings of shock and elation have past, the reality will dawn that in a few months’ time, a tiny and precious baby will be put into your arms, and YOU will be partly responsible for them.
Yep, take a deep breath, it’s a big responsibility. But it’s also the start of a fantastic journey and one that you need to be prepared for.
Getting ready for the birth
Make sure you attend the pre-natal classes with your partner as they will cover details of what to expect during the birth of your baby. Childbirth can be long, complicated and exhausting. If your partner has opted for a natural child birth, it can be extremely painful too.
You need to man up to the occasion and make sure you are at her side at all times – even if it’s just to offer her a hand to squeeze or a familiar face to yell at!
In the weeks leading up to the delivery date, make sure you can be contacted at all times – don’t turn your phone off or forget your charger.
Put plans in place for how you will get to the hospital. If you are the designated driver, stay off alcohol in the weeks up to the delivery date as you never know when baby will decide to arrive.
Keep your car tanked up with petrol and make sure you know the route you are going to take to the hospital.
Your partner will have a hospital bag packed and ready, but you’ll need one too containing snacks, drinks, a change of clothes (in case you are there overnight), camera and phone charger.
Seeing your baby for the first time
There’s no words to describe the moment you see your baby come into the world – it’s truly magical and you may find you are very emotional.
The midwives may hand you the baby and you might feel afraid of hurting such a tiny person but don’t be. Hold the baby close to your body and allow yourself to feel a connection with this special little person.
It can be difficult to go home and rest after such an intense experience, so think through what your needs might be at this time. You’ll probably have a list of people that you need to text or call with the good news and of course, you’ll want to be around your new baby as much as possible, but the emotions of the birth will also leave you exhausted, so make sure you take time out to rest – you’ll need your energy when the baby comes home!
Bringing mum and baby home
If you work you should be able to take some time off on paternity leave to help support your partner and baby when they come home.
The first few days at home with your new baby can be a very daunting time – suddenly you’ll find you house over flowing with baby clothes and equipment and overrun with friends and family visiting.
Stay calm and do your best to keep the house in order. Mum will need to rest, which means the cleaning, cooking and general housework will fall on your shoulders. In addition there will be nappy bins to empty, baby clothes to wash and bottles to sterilise.
Make sure you don’t get burdened down with chores though – take time out every day to be with your baby –bath and dress her/him; if baby is being bottle fed then take turns to feed her/him and spend time simply holding and cuddling her/him – these actions will all help you bond with your new baby.
Let’s talk about sex
You probably won’t be surprised to hear that sex won’t be the first thing on mums mind in the days after giving birth. Iin fact it may take weeks or months before the baby’s mum stops feeling sore. Be considerate about sex and think about discussing other ways of showing your love for each other until sex is comfortable.
Facing the baby blues
Some mothers become depressed and need a lot of extra support, both practical and emotional. Make sure you know how to spot the symptoms of postnatal depression and where to get help.
You may also get depressed. Your partner is facing the biggest changes, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore your own feelings. You need support, too. Keep talking and listening to each other, talk to friends, and be patient. Life will get easier in time.