Chances are great that fathers-to-be are experiencing a host of feelings about what is about to happen. You are at times excited about the arrival or your son or daughter, while other times worried about whether or not you will be a good father. It is also not unusual to have concerns about how well you will support your spouse in labor or how far your paycheck will go now that your family is growing. What are ways expectant fathers can support their spouse or partner and still find the support they need as they prepare for birth of their child?
Expectant Fathers May Feel Left Out
With so much of the pregnancy involving mother and baby, it is no surprise that fathers-to-be can feel left out of the picture. In fact, research shows that expectant fathers and new fathers report that childbirth classes and care providers tend to focus so exclusively on the mother that it only reinforces to the fathers that their role is not as important.
For that reason it is even more important for you to be proactive about ways you can get plugged into the pregnancy. If you are father expecting a baby, here are a few suggestions to help you become more involved.
Fathers Can Read Pregnancy and Parenting Books
Though moms-to-be are often the ones to devour pregnancy books, some expectant fathers may also really enjoy learning as much as they can about pregnancy, birth and what to expect as a new father. Reading pregnancy books is not only a way to be more involved as a father, but is an excellent way to show your spouse that you love and care for her enough to invest the time to read!
There are many great books for expectant mothers on the market today, however not many written for fathers. It might be helpful for dads-to-be to read both pregnancy-related books geared to the mother as well as those from his perspective.
Attend Prenatal Visits with Mother
So many changes are happening each month during pregnancy. Moms-to-be and their babies are growing and changing in a myriad of ways. Why not go along with your spouse to her prenatal visits so that you learn more about those changes and how to best support her?
Not to mention, attending prenatal visits with the mother will give you an opportunity to get answers to your questions and get to know the care provider prior to labor.
Attending Childbirth, Breastfeeding Classes
Classes that prepare women for labor and breastfeeding are not just for moms-to-be. Childbirth classes provide dads with information, helpful tips and strategies to support your spouse in labor. A good childbirth class will also spend some time preparing dads for their new role and what is expected of him in those early weeks after baby arrives.
Even though moms are the only one who can breastfeed, if dads-to-be attend the breastfeeding class, they will be able to support her and even may remember ideas from the class that she may have forgotten!
Taking Time off Work after Baby Arrives
Since finances are a big concern to new dads, they may be focused on getting right back to work. However the early weeks after baby arrives are extremely stressful. New moms and dads are bound to be sleep-deprived and concerned about new baby issues such as “Is she getting enough to eat?” “Is he crying too much?”
Fathers should take as much time as they are able to in order to fully support their spouse and to get to know their baby. Employers may offer paid family leave or new fathers can use vacation time so that income is not lost during these early weeks.
Fathers May Need to Ask for Help
Becoming a father is an amazing, topsy-turvy but incredibly rewarding time in your life! The new role as father may not come naturally to you and chances are that you will also need support from your friends and family who have been in your shoes. You may need to ask for help from them from time to time. Sometimes having a chat with an experienced father is all you will need to get back on track. At other times, parenting support groups or guidance from a mental health professional is needed.
If you are an expectant father, be sure to take the time you need to invest in the experience, participate fully and relish every second with your spouse and your brand new son or daughter!