Preparing for Parenthood: How Can the Father of My Baby Prepare?

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Pregnancy is a time of great changes for the mother-to-be, but there are also changes in store for dads, too. The most noticeable changes during pregnancy are the physical ones that can be seen in the mother as her body grows and changes as it works to sustain a healthy pregnancy. Dads often experience a very different form of change. For all of you somewhat hesitant fathers out there, try these methods for connecting with your baby, and ultimately preparing for fatherhood.

Get Real – For expectant fathers pregnancy can be a time when parenthood doesn’t quite yet seem real. A mother feels so many physical changes that it is almost impossible for her to ignore the impending birth. If you are a father-to-be, find a way to connect with the pregnancy and your unborn child.

Go to the Appointments – Your partner might be OK attending the appointments by herself, but attend them because it will help you grow as a father. You’ll learn about the changes in your partner’s body, what to expect in the coming months, and have the opportunity each month or week to hear your child’s heartbeat or see ultrasound pictures. You’ll also have a wonderful opportunity to ask any questions that might be concerning you, or about things that just make you curious.

Read Books – There are many great books on the market just for expectant fathers. Find a writing style that matches your personal preferences – humorous, detailed, emotional – and read all about pregnancy and what to expect those first months at home. Reading isn’t just for you, though. Find a book – any book – to read to your unborn baby. Spending this intimate time near to your partner’s abdomen will help get your baby used to the sounds of your voice and draw you closer to your partner and baby.

Attend Classes – There seems to be little shortage in most locations for classes on everything from natural childbirth to car seat installation. Attend these classes with your partner, or even find ones that are targeted just for partners. You can learn everything from how to coach your partner through back labor to how to change a diaper and care for the umbilical cord stump (what will becomes your baby’s belly button) after birth.

Plan the nursery – For many dads-to-be, tangible activities where they literally feel like they are doing something helps them feel more connected emotionally to their babies. If you like to have a hands-on project, work with your partner to plan the nursery. You get to do the heavy lifting, can do some of the assembling, but most of all, you get to share in the anticipation of your baby’s birth.

Image Courtesy of -Marcus- / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Courtesy of -Marcus- / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Get organized – After the birth is a little late to start worrying about paying for the hospital fees or wondering if your commuter car is the safest vehicle for transporting your baby. Get all of these financial aspects organized and plan ahead for maternity and paternity (if possible) leaves.

Spend time with babies – Nothing beats preparation like the real thing. Spend time with other families who have young children. Not only will it help prepare you for the sounds and smells of parenthood, but the relationships and responsibility as well.

If you or your partner is an expectant father, remember that the experience will be different for moms and dads during pregnancy. The physical changes can only really be felt by the mom, and dads might have their own unique emotional, financial, or personal concerns about fatherhood. The important thing to do is prepare – parenthood is coming – so find a way to embrace and enjoy it.

[Featured Image Courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net]
Dr. Gareth Forde

About Dr. Gareth Forde

An obstetrician-gynecologist, a clinical professor, a researcher, and a father of five—and he delivered them all! He speaks and publishes extensively on maternal and child health issues, where he emphasizes the role of a healthy maternal lifestyle, good nutrition, and breastfeeding on infant development. He chose the field of obstetrics because it is a celebration of life, a happy and exciting profession. “Children are a blessing and they bring joy and laughter to the world,” he says. “I cherish my work, as a doctor and a dad.” The study of genetic imprinting is a major focus of both Dr. Forde’s research and medical practice. This looks at what happens in the womb, how the genes a baby inherits are expressed (turned on and off), and how this influences the child’s health after birth. “This field holds great promise, shedding light on many unsolved mysteries in health and disease from infancy to adulthood,” he adds. Dr. Forde grew up in London, England and Orlando, Florida. He received his medical degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School and is currently pursuing a fellowship in gynecologic oncology at the University of California, Irvine. Prior to this, he practiced with Grand Rapids Medical Education Partners, a consortium of Saint Mary’s Health Care, Spectrum Health, Grand Valley State University, and Michigan State University College of Human Medicine—where he was a clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology. He also has a master’s in molecular and cellular biology from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University; a Ph.D. in environmental science (computational chemistry) from Jackson State University; and a post-doctoral fellowship in biophysics from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in New York.”

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