Becoming a Dad for the first time can be scary, especially if you weren’t planning on giving up your swinging bachelor lifestyle quite this soon. But don’t worry, it’s not as bad as it sounds – you’ll still be able to sit around in your pants watching movies and eating take-away, you’ll just have to wait till the baby’s in bed first. But you’ll gain a lot too. In a few months’ time, a tiny person is going to come into the world who will be your kid. No matter what happens, you will always be their dad. Suddenly, you’re on the fast track to growing up.
While you’re probably glad you’re not the one who’ll have to carry the child for 9 months, you’ll still have to look after your partner. She’s going to have seemingly endless medical appointments, her hormones are going to be all over the place – and there are risks to her and the baby’s life during childbirth.
How you can help
During the pregnancy, it may seem that all the focus is on the mum, but what you do makes a huge difference. As things develop, she’s going to need you to get off the sofa and help with the shopping and housework. Aches and pains will be common for her. If she has swollen ankles or sore feet, make she’s able to take some time to put them up. If she gets heartburn in the night, give her a cuddle. If she gets cramp in her legs (caused by lactic acid), try and help massage it out. You’ll both get back to sleep quicker and feel more connected at this weird time.
She’ll need plenty of emotional support too, and you’ll need to compliment her, hold her hand, put her first and even slog down to the late-night garage for carrots and ice-cream if that’s what she needs.
Try and be as involved as you can, to maintain a connection with your unborn child. Go to scans, midwife appointments, listen to the heartbeat, feel the baby kick. You can also help by going to ante-natal classes. It will help you too because you’ll meet other dads-to-be. Women have their own support groups, but men have almost nothing – so it’s also a great chance to chat with the other guys about their experiences. Arrange to go out for drinks with them now and then. With all the fuss around the mum, it’s easy to forget that you need a bit of support too.
Don’t forget that you have the right to 2 weeks’ paternity leave – many men don’t use it. But taking that fortnight off work will make a massive difference to your new family, and will help set you on the right path to becoming a great dad.