Becoming a father for the first time is a very daunting task! The biggest problem is the pressure you put on yourself during the preparation to be a ‘perfect’ dad and the pressure you (and other people) put on yourself not to mess things up…
The good news is, it isn’t that difficult, especially when you are fully prepared!
Now is the time to begin preparations, and this post will give you tips for becoming a dad for the first time from the horse’s mouth!
Being a Father for the first time can be scary……
From the very moment you find out you will be a dad, the concern hits you. Especially as you usually find out within the first trimester, which is the most important time of pregnancy.
It is the most important time because, during the first trimester, the foundations are built for the child to grow in the womb. Like building a house, if the foundations are not set correctly, the house will not be built.
After the first 12 weeks, you can relax a little, not much, only a little.
During the remainder of the pregnancy, you may feel overwhelmed by what is about to happen. You may begin to feel a bit nervous about being a dad. Questions like:
Will I be good enough?
How will I know what to do?
What if something goes wrong, how am I going to cope?
The truth is, you don’t know. You can only assume one way or the other.
As is true for everything in life, if you are prepared, you stand a much better chance of increasing your confidence by preparing correctly and preparing well in advance! Preparing means learning and applying your knowledge by practicing what you have learned.
How can I prepare for being a father for the first time?
This is where I can help! I have put together 10 tips to help you prepare for being a first-time Dad. I have been there and learned some vital tips that I am now passing you. I learned some of them AFTER the event, but learning is still learning!
These tips work well with the new Dad survival kit post, so make sure you read that so you can be fully prepared!
1. Chill Out, Dad!
First things first, chill out!
Worrying is like running on a treadmill, it wears you out, but you don’t get anywhere. Ok, so running on a treadmill will improve your fitness (you will need it!), but you don’t ACTUALLY get anywhere….physically…hopefully, you know what I mean!
Take some time to chill out. Both you and your partner will work better together if you are chilled.
Do not worry about being a bad Dad because you have time to prepare. The truth is, you will not be a bad Dad, not once you learn and practice.
When you have spare time (lucky you!), take some time to lie down and do nothing. Have your favorite music playing in the background, and do nothing.
When thoughts of work or becoming a Dad for the first time enter your mind, acknowledge them and move on.
2. Prepare for the hospital run
The hospital run is hurtling towards you like a steam train. Know where you are going, and ensure you have both bags ready, one hospital bag for dad and one for Mom.
When you have moved up the DEFCON levels, and it is time for you to leave for the hospital, it will give your partner tremendous confidence that you have everything in hand. You are the Man, step up and take responsibility for preparations.
Take some time to learn the hospital run. Use some free time (if you have any) to go out in the car and learn a few other ways to get to the hospital. Prepare for the event that there might be a road closure when you REALLY need it to be open.
If you have to break out the sat-nav when your partner is 8cm dilated, you might never hear the end of it! That kind of thing stays with you!
3. Get your baby’s stuff organized and ready for the arrival
Easier said than done; I get that.
The key to improving your confidence in yourself and improving the confidence that others have in you is to get stuff ready before you need it. I can’t emphasize that enough!
Here is a checklist:
- Moms hospital bag
- Dads hospital bag
- Car seat in the car
- Sleeping quarters set up for the baby
- Baby clothes organized
- Baby monitor set up
- Cleaning equipment topped up (you will need this on hand)
- Toiletries topped up (for everyone)
- Baby first aid kit
While you are at it, always ensure the house is in a good state before leaving to go anywhere. Make sure it is clean and ready for arrival at any moment. Never let the clothes pile up for washing, get on it. It is your job too.
4. Attend a baby first aid course
Attending a baby first aid course gave me tremendous confidence that I knew what to do in an emergency.
What do you do if they are choking? What do you do if a baby stops breathing (I HIGHLY recommend a breathing monitor, by the way)? What do you do if they are in an accident and there is a head injury?
If you do not know the answers to the above questions, get on a baby first aid course. When you are about to become a Dad for the first time, attending a first aid course will increase your confidence and the confidence that others have in you.
5. Attend a birthing class
When you finally arrive at the hospital, and the birth is imminent, you might find yourself standing in a room where Mom is in pain, and the clinical teams are moving around you like a swarm of wasps.
Talk about overwhelming!
You need to know about the birthing process and a lot you need to be prepared for.
When I attended a birthing class, I learned a lot of information. Sure, some of it was painful to learn (poor, poor Women!), but at the very least, I learned what was going to happen during childbirth.
That preparation resulted in me strutting into the birthing unit like a Don. Chill out; I got this. Even when I was left alone with my wife, and she was in the final stages of labor, I stepped up and took charge….before she was whipped away to the theatre (nothing to do with my lack of ability while in charge, I must add!)
6. Develop a Routine
When you get your kid home for the first time, it can be a bit manic. But not if you have prepped correctly (see tip 3).
One of the most important things is that you have a routine. You and your partner agree on the routine and implement it, take the reigns.
Sleeping arrangements? Who does what feeds? Who sleeps, and when. How about the bedtime routine? Bathing? Get it done, and implement a routine. You will thank me for it.
7. Support Your Partner
This is a huge tip and one that cannot be ignored.
Let’s face it, your mental toughness is going to be tested, both during pregnancy, during childbirth, and after birth. Actually, for the rest of your life!
But you will not be in as much physical pain as your partner. And you haven’t got hormones dictating every mood. Seriously, these bad boys will load up at the drop of a hat and crash instantly, leaving your partner flicking between moods and between being tired and wide awake.
The important thing is that you are there for your partner. What does that mean? I will reiterate; be prepared, take charge of the little things, and take charge of the big things.
Increase confidence that you know what you are doing. That will give your partner the confidence to leave the baby with you while they sleep. Your partner will need to see you as a partner, not a burden. Be helpful, be a Dad!
8. Capture everything
When you look back on becoming a Father for the first time, you will want pictures and videos of the whole experience.
During childbirth, I received a few short responses for wanting to capture the moment. Instead of doing it anyway, I respected my wife’s wishes and only took pictures when she wasn’t looking!
The annoying thing is, after a few months, my wife wished there were more pictures of the whole experience. We more than made up for it when my son was born.
Make sure you can take pictures and record videos of the build-up, childbirth, and the first moments that you both become parents for the first time. This is very important.
You can set expectations at the very beginning by agreeing that you will be recording the memories, even if you are not keen on the idea.
9. Prepare for the last stages of pregnancy
You must be on guard during the later stages of pregnancy (35 weeks onwards)!
You must be fully prepped and ready to rock and roll at the drop of a hat. Make sure you are ready for a baby.
At this point, you should already have the hospital bags ready, but there are some things you might be missing.
Have you arranged your work around your leave? Do you have any important meetings close to the big day? Now is an excellent time to move them forward if you can. How about visitors after the birth, have you spoken to friends and family to arrange it? Make sure you clear it with your partner first!
Ultimately, if you have prepped this far, the last few weeks will be a simple case of waiting around for it to happen. You should be at the stage where you can grab the car keys and go.
That brings me to another word you will need more of in the ‘becoming a father for the first time’ experience: PATIENCE!
Patience is a virtue, so they say. It is a virtue that you will need in abundance too.
10. Learn to relax
Learning to relax is a key life skill that is never more important than becoming a father for the first time!
Relaxing before birth will reflect those around you, who are concerned about childbirth, and what they are about to go through.
Relaxing during birth will give your partner confidence that everything is fine. It is like being in a plane through turbulence. Take a look at the stewards/flight attendants. Are they worried? Nope….then everything is cool. It is the same thing during childbirth. Be careful, though; this could backfire if you look too relaxed. It is a fine line!
Relaxing when you are back home is important because you are now a new first-time Dad, and you need to chill out so your new baby does not pick up on your anxiety!
When becoming a father for the first time, you can alleviate the concern and reduce the tension by preparing correctly and following the tips above!
I keep mentioning it, but preparation is key to being a good dad and partner.
As they say:
Failing to prepare is like preparing to fail.
Be the Don and get stuff organized. People will respect you for it, and you will respect yourself. Confidence in yourself will increase, and the confidence that other people have in you will increase.
Respond to your trepidation swiftly and accurately, and you cannot fail!
Next up – you should prepare for the delivery room!
If you are becoming a dad for the first time, I wish you good luck and good health to you, your partner, and your new baby!