If you’re a first time dad-to-be, you’re on the edge of a life-changing mission called parenthood. Pregnant women experience many new emotions and life changes, but first-time dads have their own feelings and concerns to deal with, too.
If you feel nervous, overwhelmed, or like you're just not ready, you're not alone. Like any big change, becoming a dad requires a major transition.
You don't have to feel guilty or anxious about having mixed emotions – it's perfectly normal. There are concrete steps you can take to feel more comfortable with the idea of parenthood and preparations you can make to help it go as smoothly as possible.
Preparing to be a Dad
Here are a few things to do before the baby arrives that will help you be prepared.
- Catch up on your sleep. You’re going to need it! Once the baby is born, sleep will be limited for the first few months.
- Help set up the baby’s room. While women tend to have a natural nesting instinct, preparing a space for the baby is a priority for dad, too. Buy any furniture you need, paint and decorate the room.
- Take parenting classes. If you’re feeling nervous about the arrival of your baby, feeling unprepared to give baths, change diapers, swaddle, and soothe the baby, classes can help put your mind at ease.
- Install the car seat properly. This sounds a lot easier than it is. To address installation questions, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website includes a state-by-state list of child safety-seat inspection stations. Technicians there will check your car seat at no cost to make sure it's properly installed.
- Sing and talk to your baby before birth. The baby can hear you and these interactions provide familiarity and comfort. It can also help you begin forming a bond before the baby arrives.
- Prepare for visitors. Some things to consider ahead of time: Will it be flu season? What rules for visitation do you and your partner want to set?
- Talk about your feelings with your partner. Discuss your plans and expectations about the birth and make sure you’re on the same page. You won’t want to wait until the last minute to decide things like are you going to want to cut the umbilical cord, or how much do you want to participate in the birth process?
What to Pack in Your Survival Bag
We all know it’s important for expecting moms to have their hospital bag packed and ready well in advance of their due date. But dads should also have a bag of their own that will make the first few days with a new baby more comfortable. Here are some things you may want to include:
- High-energy snacks/drinks.
- Things to do during the early stages of labor. This could include books to read, music to listen to, movies to watch, etc.
- Stopwatch or a watch with a second hand. This will help you keep track of the time between contractions.
- Small bills or coins for vending machines.
- Camera or recording device.
- Batteries and chargers.
- Cell phone.
- A change of clothing for you. This may also include something warm, night clothes, and clothes you can use when you’re bathing your baby.
- Basic personal hygiene kit.
- List of phone numbers to call to announce baby’s birth.
As the due date approaches, here are a few last things to keep in mind that will help you be prepared.
- Have plenty of gas in the tank.
- Have your bag ready early just in case.
- Make sure your electronic devices are fully charged: camera, recording device, cell phone, etc.
- Have your important documents handy, like your birth plan and insurance information.