In our society, pregnancy and childbirth is all about mom. With this article we are talking specifically about dads. The checklist for expectant fathers will help to prepare your father-to-be.
1. Childbirth Education
Learn techniques to help her while she is in labor.
2. Take a Tour of the Birthing Center
Know where the bathrooms are, vending machines, waiting room, where you can call family.
3. Read, Listen, Act…
- Anything you can learn about childbirth, support measures, breastfeeding.
Due Dads: The Man’s Guide to Labor and Delivery
Laugh and Learn about Childbirth
The Joy of Fatherhood: The First Twelve Months by Marcus Jacob Goldman, M.D.
The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips, and Advice for Dads-to-Be by Armin A. Brott
4. The Birth Plan
Know what she wants, what she doesn’t, and what you can do to help her get what she wants.
- Creating your birth plan: The definitive guide to a safe and empowering birth by Marsden Wagner
- American Pregnancy Association: www.americanpregnancy.org/labornbirth/birthplan
- Baby center: https://www.babycenter.com/pregnancy/your-body/calculators-birthplan_10328792
5. Pack a Bag
Bring a change of clothes, toothbrush, deodorant, and snacks.
Plan who will drive, the route (include alternate route), what car. Bring towels in case her water breaks.
Look early – remember that the best places generally have long waiting lists for infants.
8. Car Seat
Have the car seat or base installed before you are leaving the hospital with baby. Your local fire/police department or the hospital can do an inspection.
9. Postpartum Depression
Before you leave the hospital know the signs of postpartum depression. You may also ask the nurse, pediatrician, or obstetrician for information.
Help Guide: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/postpartum-depression-and-the-baby-blues.htm
Postpartum Support International: https://www.postpartum.net/get-help/family/
10. Ask for Help
Ask for help at any point before, during, or after childbirth. Use friends, family, or postpartum doulas.
Checklist for New Fathers
Involvement with your child is critical. Studies have shown that “children who receive higher levels of attention and interaction with their fathers are healthier and better adjusted than children without fathers or with dads who are uninvolved.” These are some ways to form a bond and develop a close relationship with your child from an early start. Start off on the right path, make the commitment to spend time with your baby, and relax, you’re going to be a great dad.
Bonding with Your Baby
- Hold and cuddle, smile and laugh with your baby
- Talk to your baby. The baby will quickly learn your voice and know that you the daddy
- Play with your baby. Babies love peek-a-boo
- Make eye contact so baby will recognize you as the daddy
- Have bath time with your baby
- Change your baby’s clothes after spills and bath time
- Change as many diapers as possible
- Skin to skin contact with baby sleeping on your chest
- Cuddle with mom and baby during breastfeeding
- When mom’s milk or formula has been put in a bottle, give your baby the bottle. Hold, cuddle, talk, and sign to your baby during bottle time
- Take your baby for a walk. Babies love the sights and sounds of the outdoors
Know the signs of Postpartum Depression
While baby blues are normal and usually leave within a week, postpartum depression (PPD) is more severe and may require treatment. Hormonal changes can cause PPD. During pregnancy, levels of estrogen and progesterone greatly increase. Within 24 hours after childbirth, the levels of these hormones return to normal. PPD lasts for about 2 weeks, any symptoms beyond that see your doctor.
Symptoms and signs of PPD:
- Lack of interest in her baby
- Lack of energy and motivation
- Experiencing trouble focusing or making decisions
- Sleeping more or less than usual
- Feeling worthless and guilty
- Negative feelings toward her baby
- Negative feelings toward herself
- Loss of interest and pleasure
- Difference in appetite and weight
Studies show there may be a link to omega-3 fatty acid deficiency and PPD. After childbirth, consumption of omega-3 (DHA/EHA) foods may help reduce PPD systems. Examples of DHA/EHA rich foods are canola oil, flaxseed, hempseed, pumpkin seeds; walnuts, salmon, anchovies, sardines, shrimp, and fish oil supplements. Consult your doctor for safe dietary options.
Coping with Postpartum
- Be patient
- Help take care of baby
- Talk with your partner about your feelings
- Eat well and exercise
- Find a new baby group through the hospital
- Get out for walks and spend time with friends
- Avoid alcohol and drugs
- Find professional help if you or your partner are depressed
- Know baby hunger cues: chewing on fingers, smacking lips, rooting for breast, crying
- Talk, sing, and play with baby
- Keep cord and/or circumcision clean and dry
- Call lactation consultant with breastfeeding problems
- Take an infant CPR/First Aid class
- Have a frustration action plan
- Go to well-baby checkup appointments
- You and your partner will be sleep deprived. Sleep in shifts
Carey Lindeman is the founder of Welcome Baby Care. Carey and staff work to support families in bonding together and boosting the confidence of new parents through the natural parenting skills they possess. Promise Care – You Have Our Word.