Preparing to be a father for the first time can be overwhelming. You are about to fall head over heels in love with a person you’ve only just met. Changing dirty nappies, running around the park, first days at school, first dates, growing up – you have it all to come. From the first time you hold your baby in your arms, your life with change – but how can you prepare for something so huge? Here are some ideas:
1. Do your homework – there are hundreds of books on the topic of parenting. You don’t need to read them all, but you may find it useful to read a couple. Ask your partner about books she has enjoyed, or ask any friends or family you feel are good parents to recommend books they found useful as new parents.
2. Speak to fathers – it can be hard to describe what fatherhood is really like, but those best placed to try are fathers. Talk to your friends and family who are fathers, and ask them for advice. They may be able to offer tips and suggestions that could help you, or even let you in on things they wish they’d done differently.
3. Speak to mothers – it’s not just the fathers you need to talk to … get chatting with their partners too. Ask the mothers what makes a good dad, and ask for examples of things to avoid. They may be able to give you tips to make those first few months easier, and even how to ensure you and your child share a loving relationship through to adulthood.
4. Speak to your partner – you won’t be raising this baby alone, so find out what your co-pilot thinks. What will she expect from you, what sort of parents does she want you to be, and what sort of parents does she want to avoid becoming? Be honest about how you both feel, discuss your hopes for the future, and try to work out ways to make them reality.
5. Go to class – antenatal classes aren’t just for pregnant women, they’re just as much designed with you in mind. The classes will teach you the basic of baby care, as well as helping to prepare you for the first few months of fatherhood. If you’re not used to being around babies, those first few weeks can be a bit of a shock, but antenatal classes can help by adjusting your expectations for life with a newborn.
6. Take paternity leave– whether you are able to take paid paternity leave will depend upon which country you live in, but try to organise some time off for immediately after the birth. Time off from work will help you to get to know your newborn, support your wife while she recovers from the birth, and enjoy some time with your new family. Take whatever you can afford off. You won’t regret spending that time with your new baby.
7. Start as you mean to go on – get stuck into being a father. Changes nappies, give cuddles, wear your baby in a sling, and bathe your baby. Your baby could hear your voice in the uterus, and so knows exactly who you are immediately after the birth. It may take a while to find your feet as a father, but learning on the job is the best way to get involved.
How are you preparing to be a father?
Written by Fiona, proud owner of a toddler, @fiona_peacock
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2017. All rights reserved.