Daddy-To-Be Dos and Don'ts
As a soon-to-be daddy in the middle of the embryo/fetus/baby stage, I have learned a few things that should, or more importantly should not be done. I have learned some of these valuable life lessons through books, other’s experiences, and personal life lessons (I recommend the first two options to be tried first). This is all advice from a first-time dad that likes to read and research my own thoughts, and gather my own opinion. These are in no particular order, but all equally important.
Don’t Underestimate Hormones
Men don’t understand women in the first place, I believe the culprit is in fact, hormones. These things are crazy. What are the exactly? Nobody really knows, but they are not to be trifled with. Not all hormones are bad, but a hefty majority of them are unpredictable. One day I came home to Kenzie, aka baby mama, in a weird mood that meant “caution.” Out of nowhere, water works, upset with me, happy, immediately followed by another “H-word” emotion. You would think this was in the span of a day or two, but it was, in fact, less than an hour. You’ve been warned.
Don’t Joke About Her Changing Figure
Remember one of those life lessons I said you shouldn’t learn the hard way? This is one of them. Before the pregnancy, her and I joked about pregnant woman being self conscious about their growing belly and both said, out loud, “how can they be so insecure? They know they’re pregnant”. She will become that person that knows she’s pregnant and insecure because her clothes don’t fit the same, or she’s more round than before pregnancy (I mean she should be round, shes pregnant………sigh).
Stress can make everything in life so much harder, so it’s no surprise that pregnancy is no exception. Both of you are going thinking so many good and bad things throughout the pregnancy and the negative thoughts can either consume you and stress you out, make you anxious but excited for the arrival of your new baby, or make you live in ‘the now’ that much more. I prefer the last of the three options. Plus, it’s a slippery slope; your stress will stress her out, which in turn, will send cortisol to your growing baby, which as you guessed it, isn’t healthy for him or her either. This is a huge one.
Don’t Feel Like This Is All Her
A lot of books I read, or people I talk to will always ask about her perspective and what she is going through, which isn’t to knock her journey, but the men have their own struggles they are dealing with too. You have the right to speak up if you feel strongly about a subject, or want your opinion to be heard. I personally am pretty lax about 99% of the topics and routes she wants to do, so my battles are a little bit easier. I wouldn’t mind a delivery with drugs or without, at home or the hospital, a midwife, nurse, or just me there, but if you feel a certain way bring it up to her. Another recommendation, bring it up to her well before the delivery day! Planning is essential to avoiding stress, and making sure everyone is on the same page well before contractions set in. It takes two people to make a baby, and although she will be going through a lot of the physical changes and pains, you will both share in the emotional challenges equally. Don’t discount your own preferences or feelings, and initiate conversation.
Whether it’s about finances, or birthing techniques, or anything else unique to you and your growing family, don’t put education or planning off. I think one of my greatest attributes is the fact that I set a plan, and no matter how difficult or daunting, I start it. With the exception of running. I really hate running. Family goals or personal goals I try to get going immediately, because no matter how tough the task, I am always happier I at least got my foot in the door. Being prepared and not procrastinating also helps with the stress levels, talked about above, and the confidence for you both to raise this kid exactly how you want to raise it! The non-procrastinators also get to benefit financially if they start a college fund, which I will talk about in the “Dos”.
Enjoy the Moments
Her hormones are hot and cold, and there is so much that needs to be planned. That could unfortunately go wrong throughout this process. I’m always an advocate for enjoying the here and now. You’re having a baby! Feel that pleasant moment for as long as you can, and share your thoughts in the moment, even if goofy or repetitive. She will want to hear the nice thoughts you have running through your mind on a whim. Pregnancy is such a finite amount of time in your life, and it will soon be gone, so share and revel in the moments now that won't last forever.
Be Proactive In Education About Pregnancy
Whether it’s about food, or exercise, or vitamins. Educate yourself and show that you are in this with her. If she can’t eat a certain food because she needs to be healthier, or it upsets her stomach, try to steer clear of that food around her, or sneak it without her if you need to. Just ask my nightstand full of candy wrappers. Supporting her to be healthy can be a challenge, but one that benefits your family in it’s entirety. The more health oriented you both are, the less self conscious she will be, albeit a bit more round (refer to above ‘don’t’ for clarification). Some of her growing features might be a pleasant surprise for all parties involved.
Take Part In A Birthing Class If She Wants To
We’re taking an overly extensive, 12-week class on birthing without medication in our scenario. It’s a bit overkill, but she was very nervous about the delivery, and wanted as much info as she could get. If this is the course she wants to take, do it with her. If she prefers a lighter course load, do that one with her. Some of the classes talk about nutrition, or breastfeeding, postpartum, and a variety of other topics that could benefit the both of you. My stance on all of the classes and ways to birth is that it’s up to her, she’s the one doing the hard part, my job is to be supportive, nurturing, and to assist in bringing our child into the world any way I can.
Do Your Own Research
Her research is tailored for a woman that is pregnant and clearly going through some physical and mental changes. Challenge yourself to learn about the research you care about on your own. Research can be tricky in today’s internet culture, so I recommend sites that end in .edu or .gov and use a works cited at the end, or find some highly rated books (if they’re published, they’re usually not bsing you too much). You can always find some research to support both sides of an important topic, some is more compelling than others, and provides more statistical facts rather than wild assumptions. It’s also okay to ask friends, family, your OB or pediatrician, and then to discuss findings with your spouse. A side note on your own research, not everyone will agree with your views and that’s perfectly fine, they don’t have to. Remember there is no right or wrong way to ruin— I mean raise, your own children!
Set Up A College Fund
I didn’t have my college paid for when I was attending, not because my parents didn’t have the funds to do so, but because they wanted me to pay for it on my own. I wrote another blog post on the pros and cons of college, but if you do want to cover your child’s college in the future I recommend starting the month he/she is born (even if you don’t tell them until they complete school). I think the greatest thing in this country is compound interest, and taking advantage of that from month one will help you substantially more than starting later in your child’s life and contributing more. I only contribute $100/month to his college fund, but with a modest 7% return and 18 years of contribution and growth you would have over $43,000 to pay for their college. I love America. Check with a financial planner in your area to get the right fund set up.
All in all, if you stick to this list, you can’t go wrong. Be prepared for anything from barely noticing that she is pregnant, to living with a completely different person! Just don’t let her know that! Let me know which tips you agree with or if I’m forgetting any below!