This one’s for the dads! A concise and brief extract from Dean Beaumont’s The Expectant Dad’s Handbook to give fathers-to-be some important tips ahead of the birth of their first child.
Go to antenatal appointments
Attend as many antenatal appointments as you can, as part of their role is to support the whole family, not just mum. You can ask any questions you may have, or discuss any concerns.
Antenatal scans especially are a great opportunity to see your baby – they can help you start to visualise your baby and enhance your bond with them. Get a scan photo to keep and look at – as men, we find it hard to attach to things we can’t see, hear or touch. This will help you start to think of your baby as a real person and start the bonding process.
Bond with your baby during pregnancy!
By 24 weeks your unborn baby can hear sounds from outside, which means that from this point of the pregnancy, your baby can hear your voice. They will know who you are and already be bonding with you.
Spending time helping your baby get to know you during pregnancy, is fantastic as it will mean by the time they are born, you will be very familiar to them, which will aid you in calming and soothing them as needed. However, it is also something which goes both ways, and the more time we put into bonding with them pre-birth, the more bonded we will also feel to them. This can help us feel more accepting of the changes we are going through and in our role as ‘Dad’. So get comfortable and spend some time each week just talking to your baby – read them a story, sing them a song or just tell them about your day!
Find antenatal classes which suit your family
Discuss with your partner what kind of birth preparations you would like to do, as there are a wide range of antenatal classes now available to help you prepare for the kind of birth you would like to have. Research what classes that are available in your area and make sure you attend the ones that suit how you feel the about your birth – if you are hoping to have a birth without using medical drugs, then it makes sense to attend a class which specifically teaches ways of making this more likely through learning specific techniques and skills.
Have a birth plan
Ignore those that tell you “there is no point having a birth plan” as this simply isn’t true – there are lots of choices and options open to you, and your birth plan also covers come of the very first parenting choices which you make for your new baby.
From where you would prefer your baby to be born, to whether you would like delayed cord clamping after the birth – a birth plan just about pain relief or type of birth.
Plan your paternity leave
Those first hours, days and weeks as a new family unit, are a special and unique time. While what is possible it will vary from family to family, do consider how much time you can take to be at home in these first days – to support mum, to find your feet as a new family, and to build that bond with your baby.