Your partner has told you she’s pregnant, congratulations! Welcome to the wonderful world of fatherhood. Take a beat and let that sink in, you’re going to be a dad. When you’re ready it’s time to get to work with the Top 5 Things Dads Need to Do Before Baby Arrives.
5: Clean, Paint, Build
While your partner is growing a new person she shouldn’t be exposed to chemicals, fumes, or exertion. (A) They can be harmful to the baby, and (b) If you were queasy I don’t think you would want to be smelling ammonia – she’s dealing with enough right now. That means for the next 9 months you need to step up to the plate when it comes to cleaning. Don’t wait for her to ask, dive in and scrub the bathtub so she can have a nice relaxing soak, while she is in the bath go to town on the kitchen counters.
Paint fumes are a big no-no for pregnant women. Send her for a pre-natal massage and get to work on the nursery. Better yet, have her out of the house for a weekend so you can really make progress on your projects.
Baby furniture can be a challenge to assemble, but you don’t want your pregnant partner doing the heavy lifting. Ask a friend for help, grab a couple of beers and start working on the crib. She will probably try to pitch in, but make it a guy’s afternoon project and banish her from the room (she won’t argue if you draw a bath for her).
4: Research everything
Unfortunately the packaging that your baby comes in does not contain an instruction manual. No matter how many times you read about the surprises that happen during the birthing process and once you have your little one, you’ll still be taken back when it actually happens. At least if you get some reading in first you will have a better idea of how to react. From diapers to daycare, know what you need to know. There are great resources available for dads, in print and online. Facebook dad’s groups are a great place to ask questions or just chat with others going through the same things.
3: Pack a hospital bag
This is crucial. You may be at your wife’s prenatal appointment one day and on the way to the hospital the next. While pregnancy is supposed to run 40 weeks, babies are notoriously bad at using a calendar. Even if you are planning a home birth you want to be ready for anything, and you want to be ready early. Start thinking about what you will need around week 30, and make sure the bag is by the door at week 34. Pro tip: cameras don’t work well without a battery. Need more tips on what to pack? Click here.
2: Wrap up as many projects as you can
At work and at home, you’ll want to focus your energy on your partner and child once the big day comes and not be worried about the dishwasher that isn’t fully installed. If you are planning on taking time off work make sure you have made arrangements with your employer. Projects around the house should be coming to a head as well. If the nursery isn’t put together by week 35 that’s priority #1.
1: Know what your partner wants, and support her 100%
You are absolutely entitled to an opinion as to how your baby should be born – home birth vs. hospital, pain medication vs. HypnoBirthing.
Keep it to yourself.
From here on, your job is to support the mother of your child, whatever that means to HER. If she asks your opinion, provide it and leave it at that. Don’t be upset if she decides to take a different route. She is about to go through a serious ordeal, a right of passage, and all you get to do is sit on the sidelines and cheer her on. I’ll not diminish the role of a birthing partner, it’s crucial that you’re there, but at the end of the day all those relaxing baths have come to this one moment.