Parenting Tips for New and Expectant Dads

a dad carrying his new baby daughterMost first time fathers or expectant fathers have a lot of assumptions about what it might be like and mean to be a father. These ideas are a part of your upbringing, your relationship with your father and the expectations of social framework that you inhabit from a father. However, the single biggest misconception that most parents have about fatherhood is that newborn babies do not require their fathers.

The connection between a mother and her baby is that of a very intense bond which cannot be broken and often you might be left wondering whether your baby actually needs you. Do be assured that he or she does, for you have played an important role in bringing him or her into this world, and you can comfort and soothe the baby too, just as your partner can nurse the baby. You can establish your bond with your baby by holding him or her, rocking and cooing. However, it is best to wait until the baby is breastfed. This way you can also allow your partner to recuperate after breastfeeding.

Fatherhood, just like motherhood, can be challenging at times, however it is totally manageable should you wish it to. There are several new issues you might have to face and here are a few suggestions on how to deal with them:

The first thing is to remain calm. During pregnancy, your partner is going through a traumatic phase, and a lot of physical trouble like nausea, discomfort and unfamiliar sensations, as well as a lot of emotional vulnerability while at the same time dealing with energy loss and a loss of the physical beauty that she had. Your wife may be feeling giddy, depressed and have hunger pangs even though she has just eaten, or not hungry at all despite not having had any food. Her breasts may swell up or ache now due to hormonal changes and her ankles may swell as well. Her back will hurt in the later stages of pregnancy and allergies she never had before may suddenly surface. But worst of all, she may start blaming you for her condition, especially if you do not support her enough throughout this ordeal. The only thing you can or should do at this point is to be very patient and supportive and commiserate with her all you can.

She might not lose interest in sex during her pregnancy, and it is alright to have sex until fairly late in her pregnancy.   If she does lose interest in sex, do not fret, all will be fine after the baby is born. This is not the time to focus on your needs, so do place her needs above yours now and don’t pressure her. Always make sure you check with your health care professional if you have any concerns.

Your role will be relegated to being the patient one during pregnancy and labor, for there is not much that you can do, other than be patient and supportive for the time being. You can’t really help her to carry her burden to give her any relief and the best you can do is to comfort her emotionally and keep her as comfortable as possible. Another thing that you can do is to understand what is going on and be prepared for it. The better you understand the changes going on, the better you will be able to comfort your wife. The most problematic times are the first and the third trimesters. All couples will face a lot of challenges during this time. Pregnancy brings along with it several frightening symptoms most of which usually cause a lot of discomfort. Rest assured that these symptoms are all those of a healthy pregnancy.

A few common fears of new expectant dads are addressed below:

A common fear of most fathers is that relations with their partner will deteriorate due to her mood changes. While mood swings are a part and parcel of every pregnancy, it is out of your partner’s control, so do be supportive and keep in mind that it will soon be over as the hormones stabilize. This is also a time to find alternate ways to communicate.

Often husbands are afraid that they will lose out on their social lives when they start a family. When you do start a family, you will find that your life has changed permanently. It is essential that you bond with your family by spending time with them. But it is also necessary that you see your friends too.

Therefore, you should strive to achieve the perfect balance between outside and home that both you and your wife are comfortable with. You should also keep in mind that she will also need to have some time for herself as well.

A very common fear is that sex will die out from the relationship after pregnancy. While a woman’s libido does fluctuate during and immediately after her pregnancy, it is up to you to realize that your wife is undergoing a lot of changes in her mind, body and life. It is your responsibility to discuss your partner's concerns and look for other ways to remain intimate like talking and giving each other massages.

A lot of men are worried about the fact that they don’t feel ready to be fathers yet. There is no cause for concern, as this is perfectly normal and it may even be a cause for surprise to discover your innate natural parenting instincts as they take over.

Fatherhood can be difficult and challenging at times, and you may often feel that your life will change drastically. Father to father, I am not going to kid you, yes, becoming a dad will change your life drastically. For the better. There is nothing more heartwarming then being there for the birth of your new son or daughter. There is nothing greater then seeing your child take their first steps, saying 'daddy' for the first time, scoring his or her first soccer goal, or any of many first accomplishments. You are their world and they really need you as much as their mommy, to look up to, to learn from, and to love.

Yes, fatherhood can be at times unsettling when you don't know exactly what to do, and nothing is as predictable as it used to be. But once the journey begins, I can assure you that it can and will be one of the most satisfying and rewarding experiences for any man.

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August 11, 2008

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June 21, 2010

Alan Kercinik @ 1:27 pm #

Some good advice here. Couple of things I'd add, given I'm now over a year in on the fatherhood things:
— It sounds stupid, but set some roles and expectations with your wife before the kid comes. Yes, having the first is a big adjustment. But not knowing who will get up for night feedings and when you're going to a class makes those adjustments worst than they need be. Playing roshambo for who gets up in the middle of the night is just going to get you both annoyed with each other.
— If you think you aren't ready, you probably are. It just means you want to be a good father.
— Don't worry about "losing your life". What we found is that our boy helps us set better priorities. We focus on what we really want to do, versus keeping obligations we aren't really in to.

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