HEALTH

Becoming a Dad, Advice for Expectant Dads

If you’re a pregnant mom, you’ll probably get tons of attention and even sometimes complete strangers asking personal questions and touching your belly when you’re out and about. But what about the dads-to-be? Not as obvious. The simple fact is that fathers also have an important role to play, after the baby is born, of course, but also throughout pregnancy.

Studies show that dads who are involved during pregnancy are more likely to continue to be involved after the baby is born with very good outcomes. Children who have dads involved in parenting tend to do better socially, emotionally and academically than children who do not.

 

Advice for spouses in the first trimester

Weeks 1 and 2: No baby yet, but for the next two weeks, your spouse is preparing for ovulation, that moment when the egg destined to become your child breaks out of one of the ovaries, travels down the fallopian tube and eventually reaches her uterus. On the way, it has to get satisfaction from the sperm that fertilizes it. It is an amazing scientific experiment if it happens inside her body or in a Petri dish. Now is also the time to find intimacy, to cuddle, to make love, to relive the early days of your relationship and to wait for the moment when the baby is conceived.

Week 3. Congratulations! The sperm has satisfied the egg, and that cell is currently dividing rapidly into a microscopic ball of cells that will emerge as your baby in about nine months.

 

Before the baby is born

Talk, read and sing to your baby-to-be. Your baby can hear voices in the second trimester and by the third trimester will be able to recognize sounds, including yours.

Go to as many doctor’s appointments as possible. During your OB/GYN visits, you will be able to learn about your child’s growth and development – such as his heartbeat. These opportunities to monitor your child’s development will help you both begin to bond with him before he is born.

Try a course for parents-to-be. Classes can prepare you for parenting (changing diapers, feeding, keeping your baby healthy and safe), in addition to strategies on how to co-parent with the mother.

Support healthy habits. Your encouragement can help mothers eat the right foods and avoid alcohol and tobacco during pregnancy. For example, studies show that your support makes it easier for mothers to start and continue breastfeeding.

 

After the baby is born

Continue the conversation. You’ve been saying, reading and singing to your baby for months.

Figure out how to share responsibility for your baby. New dads can do almost anything a new mom can do. Change diapers, take baths, share stories, and have some toy gifts for the baby to finish once he cries. If your partner is breastfeeding, you can get involved by bringing the baby to her or burping him after he feeds. Share these responsibilities from the beginning to get to know your baby and lay the foundation of your relationship with him.

Pay attention to your baby’s cues. Over time, babies develop their own ways to tell you what they want – through specific cries, looks or gestures. By spending time caring for your baby and playing with her, you will begin to interpret her cues.

Today’s fathers spend more time caring for their children than their fathers and grandfathers did. They recognize the value of sharing in the routine tasks of parenting – from diapers to discipline. Dads’ choices and their voices matter – to them, to moms, and to their children.