Whether you and your partner made the decision to start a family or “it
just happened,” a positive pregnancy test usually makes you feel
elated, scared, and a little baffled. You have questions regarding baby-proofing your home, buying the right accessories and baby products, selecting the right baby sitter and many more. Here are ten important things you should know about becoming a new father.
- Get realistic: Observe friends and family members with babies or young children. You’ll soon see that angelic babies sleeping in bassinets are just one part of the picture that includes messy diapers and midnight feeds. It’ll prepare you mentally for life with a baby at home.
- Childbirth classes: Dads sometimes feel left out, because the expectant mother seems to be doing everything – pregnancy, shopping for baby stuff. You don’t have to stand on the sidelines and watch. Attend childbirth classes with her and help her prepare for labor. An added advantage is that you get to meet other fathers-to-be. Arrange to grab a beer with them some time so you can share your fears and frustrations.
- Doctor visits: Accompany your partner during doctor visits and when you are there, talk to him or her about your concerns – whether it be your partner’s morning sickness, food cravings, swinging moods, or sex during pregnancy. Your interaction with the doctor reassures your spouse, showing her how much you care
- Preparing your home: Getting the nursery ready for the baby’s arrival, choosing the furniture, the colors and the furnishing can be your weekend activity together in the third trimester when she is too tired for anything more outdoorsy.
- Mood Swings: If you think your partner’s cravings and mood swings will end once the baby is born, think again. A lot of women experience post-partum blues. Once the euphoria of childbirth and the extra help you had in the first week disappears, depression often sets in. Throw in sleepless nights and additional washing and cleaning at home, and both of you seem to be irritable all the time.
- Get involved: Feed and change the baby, and don’t’ be surprised if mom watches over you. Help give the baby a bath, talk or sing to the baby so that the baby gets familiar with your voice and understands you are one of the care-givers. You get comfortable carrying and holding the baby and the baby gets used to your arms too.
- Going to be home alone with the baby? Not to worry. Prepare yourself and learn to make the baby’s formula or ensure that there is a sufficient supply of breast milk. Ensure that you have all the paraphernalia for a diaper change readily available. Check the baby once every hour for a diaper change and stick to the feeding schedule.
- Call for help: If the baby is running a fever, vomiting, or has diarrhea, don’t hesitate to call your pediatrician. If your baby has fallen and hurt his head or has a rash or swelling in any part of the body and is constantly crying, it is time to call the doctor. Baby doctors are not like doctors for adults. They don’t think you’re being over-protective. They actually want you to call if you’re concerned since your instincts on what is really a problem are usually very good.
- Babysitters: Your life doesn’t have to revolve around the baby. Get a reliable babysitter to watch your child when you are not there. Leaving a contact number with the babysitter will reassure both of you and help you enjoy your outing.
- Mixed feelings: With all the love and attention lavished on the baby, sometimes you might feel a little jealous. Understand these feelings are normal and so is the feeling of inadequacy when you see your partner effortlessly do things for the baby. Remember, it just takes practice and a little time to become a great dad.