I was fortunate enough to just go through the experience of becoming a father for the first time and realized that there might be a few things guys need to know before, during and after the baby arrives.
Here are the top ten things I would pass along:
1) Be there Make sure you go to the doctor’s appointments during the pregnancy and the parenting classes if she signs up for them. You will get at least a basic understanding of what’s going on, things to look for that might not be right, and what is expected of you during this growing process.
2) There is no plan, so be flexible What I mean by this is that your significant other may call and tell you that at this point, they have scheduled the baby to be induced on a certain date. You relax, sitting back thinking Oh Ok! Baby isn’t coming for another week. Baby is going to come when he or she darn well pleases, maybe even two hours after you being told that the inducement is scheduled. Just realize that it’s not about you at this point and do what is needed to support your significant other through what comes next.
3) Make sure you have a list: As you get close to the due date, I suggest sitting down with your significant other and discussing the items you are going to want with you for the delivery of your baby. Put it on a list and pack the bag in rehearsal just to make sure it all fits. Once you know you have the right bag(s), just make sure you have an idea of where each item normally would be in the house. Having the list was a lifesaver when the news came that it was time to go to the hospital. It reduced the stress of what I needed to do.
4) Bring extra pillows, not just for her, but for you. You never know what weird spot you might be trying to sleep in while the labor process works itself out. It might be a corner of a room on the floor with one pillow and two couch cushions because the little hospital couch/bed is broken. Better to come prepared than to find you need that one extra pillow.
5) Know where the juice and ice are. There isn’t much you can do for her during the labor process other than hold her hand, and then her leg, so doing the little things you can do is important. Make sure the nurses tell you what she is allowed and how often and make sure she gets it. I also recommend bringing a water bottle for both of you, as the hospital may only have the small Styrofoam cups.
6) Hold her hand and try to keep a calm face, letting her know that she is doing really well as the baby starts to come. There may not be much else you can do for her, other than highly suggest she take the epidural when she starts to feel uncomfortable but make sure you do it or you might want to find another continent to live on afterwards. You had an equal part in the pain she is going through so at least be there to help if you can.
7) You need to be the bad guy by throwing the family and friends out of the room when visits get to be too much. It’s nice that everyone wants to see the baby and how mama is doing but learning the hard way that mama probably just needs more quiet time with baby and is too nice to say anything. You need to be the one that asks everyone to leave or sets a schedule for visits around feeding and nap time for everyone. It will go a long way to reduce stress for mama over the couple days you are in the hospital.
8) Know where the cafeteria is and the hours its open as you need to eat too and the cafeteria might have weird hours of operation so you don’t want to miss it or you might go without food. Another note on that list, make sure you pack some snacks on that list, in case you do miss the cafeteria you won’t be totally starving.
9) Take your turn changing dirty diapers, burping, and just holding the baby. It’s an incredible feeling seeing those tiny toes and fingers, knowing you had a big part in making it happen. It also gives mama a break from trying to do everything. Plan to take a few days off after you go home from the hospital as well if you can afford to. There are going to be new challenges at the house that may take two sets of hands. Mama will also need naps in those couple days so make sure she takes them.
10) Be prepared for the doctor’s visits You will need to plan to be there for a minimum of seven doctor’s visits in the first year. Make sure you are setting your work schedule ahead of time to be there as you learn a lot of great information from these visits. It’s also good to have two people hear things in case one or the other of you misses something.
This list isn’t all inclusive and I am sure you will experience things that I didn’t but if this list helps even one person be better prepared than this article will have been worth it. Good luck on your journey and look forward to the joys of fatherhood ahead of you. It’s all worth it in the end, I assure you.