What Can Dads Do?
Becoming a Dad can be wonderful, but you might need a little time to get used to the idea. If the pregnancy was a surprise to you, chances are you may still be feeling a little (or very) unsure. You might love the idea of being a Dad, but you could also be scared with the idea. Maybe you and your partner haven’t been together very long, so you could be fairly shocked. Your partner might be too. If you are still quite young, a baby may have been the last thing on your mind. On the other hand, you could be over the moon! It really depends on where you are at in your life and the relationship you are in. It is important to keep talking with your baby’s mum so you can work things through together.
- Find out what she is feeling.
- Tell her how you feel.
- Talk to your family and friends and ask for their support.
What can you do?
In the early stages of the pregnancy you might find it hard to feel involved. Nothing might change very much straight away, you might even forget about the baby at times. Your partner is the one who is pregnant, but you can be part of it too.
- Support your partner as much as you can, she may be more tired, unwell or even cranky at times.
- Ask questions about the pregnancy.
- Go to the clinic appointments with her if you can.
- Find out what services are out there to help you.
Most fathers find the birth of their child one of the most amazing events of their lives. On the other hand for some dads, the thought of watching their partner in pain might be too much to handle. You might be worried that you won’t handle seeing what happens at the birth, or that you might even faint!!. Only you will know how you feel, so be open about it with your partner. Your partner may want her mother or maybe a friend at the birth. Talk about this beforehand as some hospitals will only allow one other person to be present.
- Go to the ante natal classes with your partner, they will help you to prepare for the birth and feel more involved.
- Talk to your partner and ask what she wants you to do.
- Talk to other dads that you trust who can give you some sound advice.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand what’s going on.
- While the main focus will be on the mum and baby getting through the birth safely, your support is still very important. You are the Dad!
If you and the baby’s mum are not together…
Even if you are not in a relationship with your baby’s mum anymore, it is still important for your baby to know that Dad cares and will be around for him/her. It can be difficult if you and the baby's mother had a very short relationship or maybe just a one night stand. This may mean you don't know each other very well and are not used to talking to each other about serious things. It is a good idea to try and involve both your parents, they will be the baby's grandparents and would be a great support to both of you. If you are both quite young or living at home with your families they may be able to help you sort out how you can share the care of the baby.
It can be hard to put your own feelings aside if your relationship didn't end very well. Just try to remind yourself that your baby is worth it.
Some things to remember...
- Try to keep things calm even if you and your baby’s mum do not see eye to eye. Baby comes first.
- Have your name put on the baby’s birth certificate if at all possible, its important for the child to know he/she has a Dad.
- You will be expected to pay some money towards your child’s needs (maintenance). Try to agree this amount with your baby’s mum otherwise you may have to go to court.
- Plan together how you are going to care for your baby.
- If you make arrangements, stick to them.
- Get familiar with the baby’s everyday routine.
- Bring the baby to visit your own family if you can. It is important that he/she knows both sides of the family.
- Enjoy being a Dad!
Get involved and mean it.
The earlier you get involved with the care of your baby, the better it is for both of you. There are many things you can do for your baby in the early stages.
- Hold and cuddle your baby as much as you can. This will help you to get to know each other
- Encourage and support your partner as much as possible if she is breast feeding, as it might take her a while to get used to it.
- Take your turn to wash, sterilize and prepare the bottles if your baby is bottle fed. 6-8 bottles a day can be hard work!
- Change nappies!! Believe it or not you get used to it after the first one or two!
- Play and talk to your baby from the earliest stage. Even a small baby will enjoy and respond to this attention.
- Be a good role model. Your child will be looking to you for guidance and example as he/she grows up.
- Make time for yourself and your partner if you are together, you still need some fun.