With a new baby on the way, you may feel excited, overwhelmed, lost, giddy, or a combination of a dozen other emotions. That's to be expected when embarking on the journey of fatherhood. While there's nothing that can fully prepare you for that wonderful moment you first see your baby, there's plenty a soon-to-be dad can do to get ready for the countless changes ahead. Keep reading for tips to help you prepare for fatherhood, whether you're a first-time dad or not. Don't worry—you've got this, Dad.
1. Educate yourself.
Babies aren't born with a manual, but books, websites, and movies are the next best thing. Before your baby arrives, they can help you understand how to care for newborns, infants, toddlers, and beyond. (BTW, men who expertly change a diaper? Very sexy.)
2. Go to prenatal appointments.
Pregnancy for dads means being present and supportive. If it's allowed during COVID restrictions, join your partner for her prenatal appointments. Not only will you provide emotional support, you'll be learning how to help Mom and baby have a healthy pregnancy. Plus, you really don't want to miss that first ultrasound scan. Unforgettable.
3. Make lifestyle changes.
With a baby on the way, now's an excellent time to establish healthy habits—especially because it will help your partner do the same. You may want to give up alcohol in solidarity with your partner, carve out time to exercise, or cook some nutritious meals. All of those healthy-living changes you've been wanting to make? Now's the time.
4. Plan parental leave.
Some people still think that parental leave is only for moms. No way! Baby bonding time is important for fathers, too. If taking time off from work is a possibility, don't pass up on the opportunity to connect with your newborn. You'll never, ever regret it.
5. Be a logistics mastermind.
There's a lot to be done before your baby arrives, and as your partner moves farther along in her pregnancy, certain tasks will become difficult or impossible. Lend a helping hand by installing car seats, assembling cribs and strollers, and taking care of cooking and cleaning. You can also share the mental load by, for instance, researching child care possibilities if both of you will return to work after the baby is born. (Again: very sexy stuff.)
6. Take childbirth and infant CPR classes.
Your partner's birthing experience will be unique, but you can make it go better with a little preparation. Taking childbirth classes together will help you understand what to expect and how to support her during labor. Another good idea: Take an infant CPR class sometime during the third trimester, so you'll know what to do in case of emergency.
7. Enjoy couple time.
Happy couples make happier parents. Whether you're having your first baby or your fourth, couples still need time together—just the two of you. Romantic nights out are easier to have before the baby arrives, but they're not impossible when your family expands. Before the baby arrives, talk with your partner about how you can make time for your relationship… and track down the number of some babysitters while you're at it.
8. Find support for yourself.
Your partner is the one who's pregnant, but both of your lives are about to change—big time. One way to prepare for fatherhood is to ask for the support you need. This could look like talking openly with your partner about how you're feeling, asking friends for their best dad advice, taking time to exercise, or keeping a journal. Dads are people, too—and when your needs are addressed, you'll be able to take better care of your partner and child.
The clichés about fatherhood are often true. You'll love your baby more than you can possibly imagine. You'll gain a newfound respect for the human body and the miracle of birth. And you'll definitely miss those long nights of uninterrupted sleep. But as you prepare for fatherhood, know that you're getting ready to be the best dad you can be—and it will make all the difference to your partner and baby.
As you prepare yourself for parenthood, keep in mind that everyone will start to offer up their own opinions on how to be the best parent. Here are some tips on how to receive well-meaning advice from family and friends.