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Seven fears of expectant fathers

Author GreatDad Writers
Submitted 02-06-2006

The minute you learn that your partner is pregnant you will be expected to take part in the pregnancy. All the attention will be on the mom, and very few people will ask you how you’re adjusting to the changes in your life. Those who comment will mostly echo the same idea: You should be excited to be a new dad. Very few people, however, will mention the anxiety, and even fear, that comes with this news. Like with a lot of things in life, forewarned is fore-armed. Here are seven of the most common fears of new dads.

1. Is the baby really mine?

It might surprise you to know that many dads have  had, perhaps only fleetingly, this bizarre thought. While you may have no doubts about your wife’s faithfulness, it is natural to wonder how you could have done this amazing thing. Additionally, we receive so many media messages that suggest infidelity is common, that is not surprising that our mind leaps to this passing thought. Understanding it’s common may be enough to calm your fears, especially if you have no reason to be suspicious.   Nature has built in some safeguards to make sure you don’t harbor this feeling after childbirth. When you see her new baby, you’ll be surprised how much he or she looks like you and how many people comment on that fact. This phenomenon may not last forever, but Mother Nature will send you signals that the baby is yours.

2. Where am I in this new relationship?

With all the focus on the pregnancy and the new baby, you may wonder how you’ll fit in to the new couple of mommy and baby. To be sure, the new arrival will change your relationship with your wife, but it will also change your concept of your family. Make no mistake that a lot of focus will be on mom and the baby from pregnancy through the baby’s early years, but you will have a lot of control over the role you play in your family.

3. Does this mean I’m old? 

 We’re all afraid of “becoming our parents,” but being called dad for first time doesn’t mean you have to start smoking a pipe and wearing a cardigan.  It does however, mean you have to give up some of the trappings of youthful insouciance.  You’re no longer a kid, and you have an awesome responsibility. That doesn’t mean you can’t go out and party all night — if you have a sitter, that is.  It’s good to differentiate what changes happen in your life due to kids versus the changes that will come anyway now that you’re no longer a teenager. Some people blame their kids for stealing away their youth, when Father Time was always in the process of doing that anyway.  We are always evolving as individuals through our experiences. Having kids doesn’t make you old, but it will make you wiser.  And a wiser you may just decide to go to bed at midnight rather than 3AM.

4. Will I pass out in the delivery room? 

Most men who didn’t go to medical school wonder if they will end up on the delivery room floor.  In most cases, this won’t happen. Your focus will be on mom and the baby and very likely very little on yourself. If you’re really worried, talk to the OB/GYN or even your own doctor.  You may also want to hire a doula to help out in the delivery room when you need a break.   A doula can also help you “practice” together for the main event so you’re not surprised in the delivery room.

5. What kind of father will I be? 

Maybe you worry that  you forget to let the cat in, or that you can barely keep up with your own laundry. It’s very common to wonder how you’ll be able to take care of another helpless animal in the house.  You will, however, be amazed at how attentive you will be to the new baby.  You’ll also be amazed at how much room  there was in your schedule to pack in all kinds of stuff like feedings and changings. This may require making some other sacrifices in things you used to like to do, but lot of having a baby means trading things for new rewards

6. Will my wife make it through childbirth? 

A generation or two ago this was a very very real concern.  Many babies didn’t make it , and many moms didn’t survive childbirth either.  The US had only 13 maternal deaths per 100,000 births in 2004. 

 A full 1% of moms died in childbirth in the US in 1900.  Two factors that increase risk are caesarian births and obesity.

7. How can I afford this?  

This is most dads’ biggest fear. From time immemorial, new dads have worried how they would put fresh brontosaurus on the table and take care of their growing family.  The current economic climate has made this even more challenging.  There is no single answer to this and dads and moms struggle with the realities of extra costs every day.  We can say that your personal needs will shift as you recognize the needs of your children for good care, food and education, and most parents figure out a way to cobble together their finances to provide for their kids.