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Throughout your life, you’ve experienced numerous life-changing moments, both good and bad. For example, you can probably remember getting your first car, graduating college or standing on the altar to marry your significant other. Another important experience millions of men have is becoming a first-time father.
Some men feel shocked after learning a baby is on the way, while others feel an overwhelming sense of joy because they’ve waited so long for this very moment. No matter which camp you fall into, it’s important to understand that fatherhood will be life-changing.
Below are five essential tips to keep in mind if you’re preparing for fatherhood.
1. Do Your Research
Although you might not be carrying the baby, you might be involved in the surrogacy or adoption process. If you and your partner decide to become parents, you both need to be prepared for what’s to come. Start your research as soon as possible.
You can choose from plenty of books for expectant fathers, but you can also join online groups, find a local group of expecting or current fathers and watch YouTube videos. Another great source of information is your dad, an uncle, a grandfather and close friends who have children.
2. Have Open Conversations With Your Partner
Because having or adopting a child is a huge responsibility, it’s critical that you speak with your partner about a range of topics. For example, you should be on the same page as your partner regarding parenting styles, breastfeeding, childcare, work arrangements and more.
You can also help your partner get ready for their hospital visit by packing a go-bag with essential items. Here are some items to consider packing, as suggested by the American Pregnancy Association:
- Health insurance cards and pre-registration forms
- Nursing and sports bras
- Nightgown, robe, slippers and socks
- Toiletries and sanitary products
- Brush, clips, hair ties and dry shampoo
- Mints or breath strips
- Pillow or blanket from home
Speaking openly with your partner during the pregnancy will also show them that you’re already preparing to take an active role in the child’s life.
3. Attend Appointments When You Can
Another way to prepare and get excited for the arrival of your baby is to attend prenatal appointments when possible. You’ll be able to see your baby-to-be on an ultrasound, stay informed about routine checks, ask the doctor questions about the labor and delivery processes and support your partner with any physical symptoms they experience.
If you’re still working your normal job while your partner is pregnant, it might be difficult to attend every single appointment. However, you can speak with your partner about scheduling appointments at times when you can be there to support them.
4. Buy/Build Baby Items
Preparing for fatherhood means buying essential items to care for your newborn. If your partner had a baby shower, they probably received an onslaught of diapers, toys, clothes and other baby-related items. Some other things to buy include a crib, first aid kit, bibs, pacifiers, a diaper changing table and bathtime products.
Other gear that you should have to prepare for the baby is an infant car seat, stroller, play mat, a baby swing or a baby carrier. When you drive, you’ll be carrying precious cargo, so now is not the time for reckless driving. You can save speeding, slamming on the brakes, doing donuts or drifting for another time. Consider learning about the best defensive driving strategies to keep your family safe while traveling.
5. Prioritize Sleep
Any new parents would agree that getting enough sleep is a major challenge. Ultimately, your partner, your baby and you need enough sleep to function properly. You can try out different methods to ensure everyone is sleeping enough.
For example, you can sleep in shifts, take naps when possible or take turns dividing and conquering the household chores and baby responsibilities. Employer policies on parental leave vary, but it’s worth opening up a conversation with your boss about the importance of caring for your child while also performing well at work.
Being Proactive When Preparing for Fatherhood
Although fatherhood will bring unfamiliar challenges, it’s often thought of as a highly rewarding milestone. And if you recently learned that fatherhood is in your near future, congratulations!
You probably have a lot of questions, but some of those questions can’t be answered until the baby arrives and you find them out for yourself. Use these tips to guide you through the process of becoming a father to the newest member of your growing family.