Finding out your partner is pregnant, becoming a dad or taking on parental responsibility can be a daunting time in your life.
Family Hubs and Home Start Hull offer peer support groups for dads (or expectant dads) of children under two who would like to meet others.
It is hard to feel completely prepared but there are things that you can do before and after birth and support you can access to help you at this life-changing time.
You might not be the person carrying the baby, but you are important to your baby at every phase of their life. Bonding with your baby doesn’t have to wait until they are born. Babies can hear in the womb from around 18 weeks into the pregnancy. Try talking, singing, reading or playing music to your baby. Being part of the pregnancy, birth and beyond can help to give your baby the best start in life.
Doing your research and asking questions can mean you understand the stages of pregnancy, including symptoms your partner might be facing. You can support them by showing understanding throughout pregnancy. During labour and birth it can also help you and your partner if you know what to expect. You could –
- start saving money if you can
- attend appointments with your partner when you can
- attend a pre-natal class
- research things for your baby for when they arrive
- talk to your employer about paternity leave
- pack the hospital bag
- learn how to install and use a car seat
Useful websites include –
- The DadPad | The Essential Guide for New Dads | Support Guide for New Dads (thedadpad.co.uk) is a guide for new dads (app available), developed with the NHS
- Birthing4Blokes – Everything a ‘Father to be’ needs to know a resource for fathers to be including an online course
- Support – Following Young Fathers Further offers support and has a list of useful resources for dads or dads to be
Communication with your partner about decisions you are going to face as parents and the kind of parents you plan to be can help you to feel prepared for when your baby arrives. Before your baby is born or in the first days, weeks and months you can find out information on feeding and changing, sleep and soothing which will help you and your family in the early days. Although, it is important to remember that you might have to rethink some things when your baby arrives because your thoughts, feelings and circumstances might change.
You might think that some discussions might not feel relevant yet, but it can help you to plan ahead for things like childcare.
Caring for a newborn can be exhausting and exciting too. You can care for your partner and your baby by –
- sharing responsibilities around the house
- spending time skin-to-skin to establish an early bond
- sleeping in shifts
- changing and feeding your baby (day and night)
- bathing your baby
- talking or reading to your baby
- singing or playing music to your baby
- playing with your baby
- brining your co-parent drinks and snacks
- understanding crying
Crying is one of the main ways your baby communicates and there are useful things to remember when your baby cries –
I – infant crying is normal
C – comforting methods can help
O – it is okay to walk away
N – never, ever shake a baby