Pregnancy is an exciting, joyous, but also nerve-wracking time, especially if you’re awaiting your first child. Expectant mothers go through a whirlwind of emotions, many brought about by the huge hormonal changes going on throughout the nine months. It’s usual for a mother to feel connected with the life growing inside her, but for fathers-to-be, the situation can seem a little more abstract.
There is a common and anachronistic misconception that fathers really start to bond with their children when they get a bit bigger, and able to share in activities, etc. Nothing could be further from the truth — in fact, the dad-baby connection can happen from the early stages of pregnancy. And it should! There is nothing better for a newborn than two loving parents who are already familiar and soothing presences in a brand-new world. Here are some tips for expectant fathers.
Look after Mum
As mentioned, pregnant women are often in a period of emotional upheaval in both positive and more challenging ways. A supportive partner provides help, love, and good vibes, and these are passed on by the magic/science of nature to the little one. Take on some of her usual errands to lighten the load, especially during the second half of the pregnancy.
If you have other little ones then increase the amount of time you look after them — a relaxed mum means a relaxed baby, so get the other kids out doing something fun and give mum a rest.
Touch! It was an important part of getting pregnant in the first place, and that little thing in there is surprisingly sensitive and perceptive — it’ll know there is someone who isn’t mum touching the tummy. And the more you do it, the more used to your touch they’ll become.
Not only that, but pregnant bellies can become uncomfortable. Like much of pregnancy, it’s a discomfort we men can only imagine (thankfully), but we can help alleviate a sore, uncomfortable, or itchy belly with a soothing massage. Mum and baby will thank you for it.
When you can, make sure you’re with your partner at her prenatal appointments. This includes ultrasounds, which are usually a fairly joyous occasion for both parents to see how their little one is developing, but they can also detect any potential problems, and being there for emotional support is also crucial.
But you’ll also have amazing moments together, like hearing your baby’s heartbeat for the first time, or seeing your first 4D ultrasound, where you can begin arguing about which of its grandparents the baby looks like more. This may continue for several years.
Belt it out
Babies love being sung to, and we all have the image of a babe-in-arms being rocked to sleep by the dulcet tones of a singing mother. Well, babies love being sung to before they emerge as well, so don’t be afraid to sing (softly, if you’re right by mum’s tummy) or a bit louder, if you’re rattling pots and pans in the kitchen.
Luckily, in-utero babies are not music critics, and they don’t mind if you’re completely tone-deaf, so don’t worry about the quality. The timbre and sound of your voice will become a reassuring presence, and they’ll get to know you. If your singing is so bad it upsets your partner then maybe a rethink is in order, otherwise, unleash those pipes!
If you’re going to be at the delivery itself there are many ways you can prepare. You should consult with a doctor or midwife as to what to expect, and where to stand or sit (sometimes being at the ‘business end’ is too much for someone, and a fainting man isn’t much help during the delivery of a baby).
More importantly, prepare with your partner. Talk about how to make the mood more relaxing, with aromatherapy and music, as well as massages and other soothing things. Don’t forget to baby-proof the house! Actually, getting your home ready for a new little one is one of the best ways to relax the mind and prepare yourself mentally. While this does take a bit of forethought and organisation, activities like decorating the nursery are fun, and something partners can share.
There are plenty of ways for dads-to-be to get involved before their baby arrives. Follow some of these tips to help bond with your newborn as soon as he or she pops into the world!