Why Preparing to be a Dad Can be as Life Changing as Becoming a Mother
A baby is not created by one person, it is created by two. Whether or not you are with the mother of your unborn baby, you are a part of their life and always will be. That means that your life is about to change drastically, and if you want to find your way through these waters with ease, preparation is key.
If you are married or a long-term partner of the mother of your child, you may find that your needs aren’t as focused. People tend to focus all their attention on the pregnant woman, and probably rightly so. The thing is, becoming a dad is a huge deal, and it takes time to adjust, time to prepare, and you’ll also want to immerse yourself in the whole pregnancy journey, to remember it in the future.
Fatherhood is something which will certainly alter your view on the world, and you will want to protect your son or daughter against anything that life throws at them. The qualities of an excellent father all come down to protection, be it protection of your child, or protection of their mother. Many dads struggle with the huge responsibility that is about to be bestowed upon them, but as things change, you will adjust, just as the mother of your child will too.
Knowing how to prepare for the new arrival is key, and to help you out, let’s look at a few key areas.
Iron Out How You Feel
First things first, you need to identify how you feel about this exciting news and the new arrival and ensure that you deal with any lingering worries at the start. If left to fester, these will ruin the entire pregnancy and take away the excitement of the time before you become a father. It’s normal to be worried, shocked, even terrified, but rising to the challenge and becoming the father you know you can be is vital, not only for you and your pregnant partner, but also for your child and his or her future.
If you are no longer with your partner, make sure you are on good terms before the baby arrives. Your child deserves tow loving parents, whether together or not. This will also help the mother feel like she is supported and that she is not alone when the newborn comes along.
Most fathers want to learn all about the baby and how it is developing week to week – go for it and learn all you can! Pregnancy is a fascinating time, and by learning what his happening inside the womb, you can become closer to your child, and prepare yourself for his or her big arrival.
Each trimester is completely different, and by learning more about this you can help to support your partner throughout the ups and downs of pregnancy. Remember, she is growing a life inside of her, and she needs your strength and support to help when she is struggling, or feeling a myriad of symptoms that she might not be able to make sense of.
Attending a childbirth and parenting class is a great idea, and these can be arranged via your midwife. Attending with your partner will create a ‘we’re in this together’ feel, strengthening your bond, but it will also prepare you with all the information you need for when the baby arrives. These are often at community centres, baby centres, or hospitals, and are available throughout the pregnancy from the second trimester onwards.
Support Your Partner
It goes without saying that part of fathering a child is also about supporting the mother, and that means also supporting and respecting her decisions. Whilst you are certainly part of the journey, remember that this is her body, and the changes that are happening can be frightening and confusing. Talk to her about the delivery, ask what she wants, and don’t try and force your opinions on her if she doesn’t seem open.
You should also take a load off her mind by taking care of the logistics. She is responsible for pushing the baby out, and your first responsibility in fatherhood is to plan how to get to the hospital and to stay as calm as possible! Do your research and work out the best and fastest route, help her back a bag, and be the pillar of strength she needs when the time comes. Of course, you’ll be terrified too, and that’s normal, but be the strong one, even if you have fake it! It will be more than worth it when you’re cradling your newborn in your arms.
You can also be responsible for things around the house, such as baby proofing the home, installing the car seat into the car, and helping to set up the nursery for when your partner and the baby come home. The more involved you become with the areas you can help out with, the more involved you will feel. Remember, everyone is focusing on your partner at this time, as she is the one carrying the baby, but that doesn’t mean that you are surplus to requirements! This is something which many fathers to be feel, but it’s really a case of immersing yourself in the process and supporting your partner.
Know That Your Life is About to Change, And be Excited About it
Your new baby may have been planned, but he or she may have been a total surprise. Either way, it’s important to realise that life is never going to be the same again, but in a wonderful way too.
Becoming a father is a coming of age deal. Whether you’ve been married for years, you’ve been with your partner unmarried for a long time, you are no longer with your partner, or you were together a very short time before the pregnancy was revealed, none of that really matters, what matters is that you are about to be a father. Your life is going to be different now, and you are going to be responsible for helping to guide and nurture a new life into this world, and help inspire and advise them on the pitfalls, twists and turns that life has in store. It’s a terrifying thought, and many fathers to be have a period of time when they simply can’t face up to the enormity of what is about to occur. If that happens to you, fine, but make sure that you come out of it the other side quickly. Allow yourself the time you need to process your feelings, as we mentioned before, but never allow yourself to run away from the challenge. This is the biggest story of your life so far!
A Vital Part of the Story
The fact is that many men do feel neglected during pregnancy. The woman is the one carrying the child, she is the one feeling the baby move, experiencing all the symptoms, watching her body change, and she is the one who ultimately has to deliver the child into the world. She is then the one who may breastfeed the baby, if she decides to do so, and that child is dependent upon her for everything. When you read that description of reality it’s easy to see why many men feel surplus to requirements. It’s easy to see why many men feel that they can’t do anything right, and struggle to really know where to turn.
You are not surplus to requirements. Preparing to be a dad is about being mature enough to understand this situation and be fine with it. You are not simply the sperm donor who is there waiting to coo and ahh when the baby finally emerges; you are an integral part of the entire journey and it’s important that you realise that and stand side by side with your partner throughout the entire process. She needs you, whether you’re together or not. And, your baby needs you too.
Pregnancy is exhausting, terrifying, wonderful, and exhilarating, and that’s before the baby even arrives! That’s when the fun really starts! The biggest part of preparing to be a dad is getting your ducks in order in your mind, and stepping up to the challenge. Be there for your partner, be the strength she needs, and do your research, preparing for when the baby does arrive. You will be taking the hugest load off your partner’s mind and plate by doing all of these things, and whilst you may not get a thank you at this time, she will never forget the fact that you embraced the challenge of becoming a father and became the man she needed you to be.
Becoming a father is life changing for sure, but in the most amazing way possible. Embrace every second.