The countdown is on! You only have three months to prepare for the arrival of your new baby. While you may stress over money, sleepless nights, and how to best juggle work and family, you are also beyond excited to begin this new chapter. Information overload has never been higher for parents, with everyone claiming to have the magical answers to all your parenting questions. While you could spend your days spinning in anxiety circles, instead, choose to focus on the things you can do to calm your nerves and enjoy this special time.
New Dad Tip #1
Make couple time a priority.
The last trimester will be the last time it will be just the two of you for many years to come. Now is the time to take long walks (which can also help with the aches and discomforts of pregnancy), binge-watch TV shows or movies, cook each other’s favorite meals, or engage in other activities that you both enjoy. Couples massage, yoga, meditation, or prayer can also help you both focus on the days ahead.
Dads who play an active role during pregnancy lower moms’ stress levels, but don’t forget about managing your stress. Speak up about your own needs and concerns. And don’t forget to talk, sing, or read to your baby. He or she will love hearing your voice!
New Dad Tip #2
Be clear on your partner’s (and your) birth plan.
Talk often about the plans for when your baby arrives. From knowing what you would like to happen during labor and delivery to be prepared to support your partner with breastfeeding, there is much to discuss. Create a list as you gather information and make decisions. When you work together, you will both “own” the plans and be better able to follow them and adapt when things go awry. Take an in-person or virtual birth and newborn care class or hospital tour together.
New Dad Tip #3
Keep this team approach going after your baby comes.
When you communicate each step of the way, you reduce the stress of not knowing what each other is thinking and feeling. Emotions run high for new parents, and you need to take care of each other. This is easier to do when your plans are in alignment.
Caring for a baby is a two-way street. Whether feeding, bathing, diapering, or playing, both parents have a role. And guess what? It is okay if you don’t do these things the same way. “Maternal gatekeeping” is a real thing that most women don’t even realize they are doing. Every parent finds what works for him or her when it comes to taking care of a baby. Learn from each other, and your family will be better off!
New Dad Tip #4
Wear and snuggle your baby regularly.
Routine is key to caring for your baby, but remember everything is new to your bundle of joy. The sights and sounds of the world are overwhelming during the first few months. The more you keep your baby close to you, the more he or she will be easier to soothe and settle. From wearing your baby to mastering the swaddle to making time for snuggling, you will find your rhythm together quickly. As you spend time with your baby, try to understand his or her hunger and fullness cues. Knowing these signs may help a crying baby who struggles to communicate his or her needs.
New Dad Tip #5
Make health a priority for all.
Being a parent is hard. It means becoming an instant role model for your little one. Your habits will be on display for your child from the get-go. Make healthy habits the norm for you and your partner by meal planning and cooking together, engaging in physical activity, and managing stress. Not only will you instill these in your child, but you will also be better equipped to care for your family. Protect your mental health by taking time for yourself. Also, be ready to support your partner when she is taking time for herself. Do your best to keep up with your favorite hobbies, and stay engaged with friends and family. Now more than ever, staying connected to your family, friends, and community is essential. Talk often to your circle of support. You will be amazed by what you learn or what you can share with someone else to help them.
The journey to fatherhood is not a one-way road, but more like a swirling intersection of quiet roads and crowded highways. By taking the time to plan, talking to your partner, and learning how to be in tune with your baby, you can better find your way and avoid the bumps. Most of all, keep your eyes open. You don’t want to miss anything along the way.
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