With Father’s Day around the corner, there are many first-time fathers preparing for this life-changing event. Adjusting to new responsibilities and expectations may feel overwhelming at first. Newborns do not come with a manual, so first-time fathers must learn on-the-job. Conor Hardeman, MD, an OB/GYN at Ochnser Baptist, has the following advice for dads-to-be:
It’s a rollercoaster (of emotions)
There are a number of fears and emotions that expectant fathers experience during pregnancy, birth and the baby’s first year. The most common concerns include financial security, safety and health of the mother and baby, medical procedures, caring for a newborn or feeling replaced by the baby. This rollercoaster of emotions can lead to an overwhelming feeling of anxiety and stress. Talk about your fears with your partner, seek reassurance and work through the issues together.
Be informed (and ask questions)
Talk to other parents, interview pediatricians, read parenting books and ask questions – lots of questions. Check out what prenatal classes are available in your area and make a point to attend them with your partner.
Know who to ask
Before baby arrives, take some time to gather important numbers you need. That way, when you’re worried about something you can quickly call the best person for advice. Important numbers include your partner’s OB/GYN and the baby’s pediatrician, as well as family and friends. You may also want contacts for your local breastfeeding consultant.
Stock your home with plenty of food ideal for quick and easy meals. Once baby arrives, there will be too much to do in one day to allow time for cooking. Accept that meals will be chaotic at first and be ready to provide quick meals when needed. Also, get to know the baby aisle in your local supermarket. You want to be able to dash easily in and out for diapers, or any other essentials at a moment's notice.
Be ready for the delivery room
Fathers play an important role in the delivery of a new baby. Sometimes it may be difficult to know your place, but your partner needs you for support during the labor and delivery process. In response to COVID-19, many hospitals have adjusted their visitor policy, so make sure to check in advance what the current guidelines are. Remember – these guidelines are in place to keep everyone (including your new bundle of joy) safe and healthy.
Try to remain calm.
As a first-time father, you may feel a sense of panic when the doctors and nurses leave you literally holding the baby. This will naturally coincide with your baby waking up more and crying louder. Take a deep breath and try to remain calm. Go through the checklist as to why the baby may be crying. Full tummy? Clean diaper? Fever-free?
For more resources for new dads (and new moms too) check out Ochsner.org/newmom.