Key ways to stay connected and enjoy pregnancy, birth, and beyond!
Is the dad-to-be in your life feeling sidelined during your pregnancy? While there’s not much you can do about who carries your growing and developing baby (we wish!), there are some important ways to help your partner feel like he’s really needed. Whether he’s ready to jump into this new venture enthusiastically, or if he prefers to take baby steps, we’ve compiled plenty of ways to get dad-to-be involved, connected, and fully embracing his new role.
Make it a point to prepare your home and nursery together and encourage your partner to speak up about which projects he’d be most interested in taking on. Whether it’s helping compile the registry, painting walls, refurbishing nursery furniture, putting together the crib and glider, or comparing consumer reviews on best baby products, there are numerous ways to participate and enjoy the nesting phase of pregnancy together.
The more you both learn about labor and the birthing process, the better. Take a childbirth class together. Meeting and talking to other men in the class will help your partner relate and discuss what he’s going through. You can also gather birthing-related books and DVDs to go over together at home. This type of preparation will allow you to discover key areas of support your guy can offer during labor. For example, if he’s learning and practicing effective massage and labor-coping techniques beforehand, you can rest easy that he’s going to do his best to keep you as comfortable as can be during childbirth. This also encourages the two of you to approach labor and delivery as a team – and stay connected throughout it.
Read more: 5 signs he’s dad material
Labor and birth
A birthing mom should be able to thoroughly focus during labor, so discuss ahead of time what kind of atmosphere you’d like to maintain. For example, in addition to supporting you with massage and comfortable labor positions, your partner can keep the birthing room comfortable with the right lighting and temperature, make sure there is plenty to drink, and have some nutritious snacks on hand. Discuss what types of needs you may have in advance and have your guy be ready to communicate them to nurses and other care providers as you labor. But remember that ultimately, having your partner stay supportive, encouraging, and calm during labor (even he doesn’t feel calm!) is the most productive and meaningful way to stay involved and connected.
After the birth while you and your care providers complete the delivery, your man can begin bonding with your baby right away. Encourage him to stay close by as the medical staff assesses your little one’s health condition. Once the tests and evaluations are complete, it’s a great time for him to hold and look into your baby’s eyes. Once your little one arrives, he or she will be able to see your face and recognize your voice.
First weeks at home
Although bringing home your new baby is an exciting moment for your new family, as parents you both may feel some fear about leaving a secure hospital environment full of professional support. That’s why it’s all the more important for new parents to communicate, work together, and enjoy this amazing time. While many moms naturally tend to “take the lead” there are countless ways your partner can (and should!) care for and bond with your baby, including:
- Bottle-Feeding, including making bottles and burping
- Breastfeeding support (e.g. let mom get settled, bring baby to her, help with positioning, and bring her a drink or snack.)
- Changing Diapers
- Reading (it’s never to early – the sound and rhythms of your voice will be soothing.)
Everyone – men and women – have their own parenting style and level of comfort when it comes to pregnancy, labor, and newborn care. The key to finding yours and truly enjoying the fatherhood journey is to get involved in a variety of ways and communicate with mom as you both learn.
— Carole Kramer Arsenault, RN, IBCLC, and author of The Baby Nurse Bible: Secrets Only a Baby Nurse Can Tell You about Having and Caring for Your Baby