When a woman is pregnant, her partner is pregnant, too. As a Dad-to-be, there are many ways you can support the pregnancy and prepare yourself for parenthood. Here's how!
Participate in prenatal doctor visits
Go with the expecting partner to doctor visits. Ask questions. Listen to the baby’s heartbeat. Try to identify all the little body parts during an ultrasound exam. Learn how to help during labor and delivery.
Bookstores and libraries are a wealth of information on a developing baby, childbirth, and parenthood. The Internet puts these resources at your fingertips. When you pick up your phone during the day, instead of hitting the social media sites, visit trusted pregnancy websites and learn all you can.
Make plans together
Decorate the nursery. Buy or borrow baby things. Decide who will do what baby-related chores. Even the best-planned baby comes with unexpected expenses so put away a little money each paycheck during the pregnancy for unexpected expenses, surprises, and treats ... or college!
Get to class
Attend childbirth classes with the mother-to-be so you’ll know how to work together when the big day arrives. Learn the breathing exercises and practice them with her.
Share healthy eating habits
A mother’s diet is vitally important to the developing baby. Make a healthy diet a family habit to encourage optimum health before your baby even gets here. Don’t tempt mom-to-be by drinking alcoholic beverages in her presence since alcohol consumption during pregnancy can cause birth defects.
Avoid street drugs
Get help if this is a problem for you or your partner. Consult a physician about all drugs, including OTC and prescription drugs, that might be taken during pregnancy.
Do the cleaning
Aromatic household cleaners can cause nausea during pregnancy and toxic fumes can harm a developing fetus. Litter boxes can harbor a parasite that causes dangerous birth defects, so if there are cats in the household, make them your responsibility, Dad.
Maintain a peaceful, relaxing environment
Do things that encourage a good night’s sleep. Indulge in naps. Eliminate as many stressors from the household as possible. Do relaxation exercises and activities together that promote peace and harmony. Get counseling if anger, negativity, or abusive behaviors are part of the relationship. The baby can sense stress in the environment even before its born. Create a happy environment to come home to for your partner and your baby.
Have fun with sex
Sex is perfectly safe during most pregnancies and the bond of intimacy it creates encourages peace, health, and harmony. Explore her body as it changes and encourage her to say what feels good to her as the pregnancy advances.
Plan to feed the baby
Feeding creates a bond between parent and child, regardless of the method of feeding. If the baby is breastfed, ask Mom to pump milk into a bottle so you can feed her/him on a regular basis. If bottle-feeding is the chosen method, take turns.
Play with the baby ... before it’s born
Listen to the heartbeat. Feel the kicks. Tap on mom’s stomach when the baby kicks and expect a response. Play this tapping game from the second trimester on. Talk to the baby. Sing to her. Communicate with him verbally, mentally, and emotionally. Visualize fatherhood the way you want it to be.
Learn infant massage
Take a class with the baby’s mother so you’ll both know how to gently soothe the baby even on days when s/he seems especially out of sorts. Knowing how to soothe your baby is a learned practice. And, the more ways you can learn how to comfort your crying newborn and remain calm when your baby isn't, the more you and your partner will remain relaxed.
Learn how to care for a baby
Learn how to hold and feed your baby as well how to bathe him/her and change diapers. Little by little, you will also learn how to communicate and comfort your baby. Know that this will take time, so give yourself a break. As you and your baby get to know each other, you will, over time, figure out what your baby wants and needs. The more you know and learn, the more confident you will be as a father.
Talk to other fathers
Join a support group of new fathers. Ask questions, share fears, get advice, and learn from their experiences. Becoming a dad is a joyful time in life but it can also be overwhelming, especially in the beginning. Nothing replaces the advice given by new Dads who have already been there.
Make eye contact
As soon as your baby is born, hold her/him and look into her/his eyes. Talk or sing to your baby so s/he will recognize your voice from the conversations you had when s/he was still in the womb. Connect. Bond. Fall in love.
Many fathers feel left out of the pregnancy phase of parenthood, and that could be partly because they don’t participate fully. Dive in. Take part. A family doesn’t start when the baby is born. If mom is pregnant, the family is already there.
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