How did you exactly feel when you found out that you’re going to be a father? Overwhelmed? Anxious yet excited? Even if you’ve been trying to get pregnant and waiting for that exact moment for months, knowing that you’re going to be a dad can feel like a life-changing moment.
Much more so if it’s an unplanned pregnancy. If you’re feeling totally unprepared to deal with the challenges of becoming a father, know that it’s natural to have mixed feelings of happiness and surprise.
You might have a lot of questions about mentally preparing for fatherhood and everything in between. While it’s okay to never feel completely prepared to become a father, knowing what you might face and how to deal with that can be really useful.
Keep reading to find out 17 tried and tested tips for you to help you emotionally prepare for new parenthood.
17 Things You Can Do To Mentally Prepare For Fatherhood
Here are 17 ways for you to become more involved and prepared as an expectant father.
Talk and Sing to Your Baby (In the womb)
Talking, reading, and singing to your baby in the womb can help you bond with your little one long before you meet them. If you’re wondering whether your baby can hear you in the womb, yes, they can hear sound at four and a half months.
Singing to your baby helps early bonding as they get to know your voice through singing.
Instead of singing, you might want to read to your baby while they are in the womb.
Go to Prenatal Doctor Appointments with Your Partner
Prenatal appointments are an amazing way to be involved in your baby’s growth and development inside the womb. Hearing your baby’s heartbeat and seeing them in the ultrasound for the first time is an opportunity for you to feel connected to your little one.
During routine visits, you can ask your OB/GYN any questions you might have and get an idea about what to expect in pregnancy month by month.
Decide the kind of dad you’d like to be
No matter what kind of relationship you have with your own dad, you are free to build a great father-child relationship with your own kid. If you love everything about your dad and aspire to be just like him, great.
But, even if you had a strained relationship with your father, you aren’t necessarily doomed to repeat his mistakes. Figure out what you’d like to incorporate from your dad’s style in your parenting style and what you wouldn’t want to repeat.
Then feel free to choose the behavior and parenting style that best fits your personality and supports your baby-to-be’s emotional well-being.
Do Your Research
Your partner shouldn’t be the only one reading all the books and doing extensive research on pregnancy and childbirth. Go join her and start reading as many pregnancy books and articles as you can to start preparing for fatherhood.
There are lots of websites and free online educational resources available for expectant fathers to help them mentally prepare for fatherhood. Start learning about sleep training, baby proofing, and everything you can to feel more prepared before the kid arrives.
Sign up and Attend Antenatal Classes
Antenatal classes (also known as birth and parenting classes) can help you prepare for your baby’s birth by teaching you about what to expect and how to deal with them. You can learn about the stages and signs of labor, birthing positions, relaxation, and breathing skills as well.
Those classes tend to be really informative. You get to meet other expectant parents and talk about anything from early parenting to diaper change. Learning how to navigate life once the baby arrives can be a practical tool for a dad-to-be like you.
Rely on Your Support System
Having a good support system can be a vital tool in maintaining your mental health and well-being while dealing with the stress and anxiety of becoming a father.
Don’t hesitate to seek support from your friends and family members whenever you feel confused or lost.
Spend Time With Other Dads
Finding fellow dads and talking to them about your concerns can be really helpful. When you spend time with other new dads and dads-to-be, you can find a sense of community and learn a lot from their experiences.
Other fathers can relate to your situation and offer valuable insights as well as useful tips that can help with the challenges you might face.
Be Financially Prepared For the Baby
Bringing a new baby home is exciting, but raising them can be quite expensive, especially if you have to depend on your income alone. That’s why getting your finances in order before becoming a dad should be high on your list of priorities.
Talking to a financial planner can be helpful when you’re wondering how to adjust your budget after the baby arrives. Take time to review your health insurance and life insurance coverage. Don’t forget to make necessary adjustments to avoid a surprise medical bill for routine newborn care in the hospital.
Discuss Parenting with Your Partner
While some decisions can wait, some discussions should happen before the baby is born. Both of you should take some time to discuss your take on breastfeeding, birth plan, shared responsibilities, religion, finances, child care plans for when you return to work, etc.
Also, decide if you’re going to keep your baby in their own room after bringing them home, or they’re going to sleep in a cot next to your bed. Your plans might change after the baby’s arrival but discussing potential issues sooner rather than later is always a good idea.
Be a Team Player
Your partner needs your constant support now more than ever. They’re carrying your baby, and no matter what happens to your romantic relationship with them, you’ll always be co-parents. It’s a good idea to start working as a team and work through the differences in your relationship.
Many women experience mood swings and emotional changes during pregnancy. Try to ease her anxiety and make her feel supported in every possible way. You’re helping your unborn baby when you help your partner around the house.
Be there to take her to doctor appointments, assure her that you’ll be there and things will be okay.
Accept That Your Life Will Change
For the better, of course! But your sex life, sleeping schedule, and social life will look somewhat different than how it is now. Even though sex is considered safe in a normal pregnancy, you might feel a little awkward and nervous about it affecting the baby in any way.
Once the baby arrives, new mothers need at least 6 weeks to recover from pregnancy and childbirth. On top of that, in the first few weeks, you two will be busy breastfeeding and changing diapers while dealing with issues like sleep deprivation and postpartum depression.
While it might sound scary at the moment, you may rest assured that this too shall pass. Your baby will start to sleep through the night, your sex life will go back to normal, and you can manage to hang out with your friends again.
Start Building The nursery
Wondering what a good time to start designing the nursery is? You can aim for the second trimester as that’s when your partner’s early pregnancy symptoms are likely to subside. Also, it’d be easier to pick a theme if you already know the sex of your baby.
Instead of putting it off, start buying and building the baby furniture well before the baby arrives. It won’t be easy building the crib or changing table with a screaming baby in your arms, and that’s why it’s a good idea to have it ready by 36 weeks.
Buy an Infant car seat
You might already know that the hospital won’t let you bring your new baby home without an appropriate infant car seat. So, getting it well ahead of time and learning how to use it can help you prepare for fatherhood.
To avoid the stress of buckling your newborn into the car seat correctly, you can practice strapping a baby doll or stuffed animal in the car to get used to it.
Stock up on Baby-care Essentials
Having a month’s worth of baby supplies in the supply cabinet can be a real lifesaver for new parents and will make their lives so much easier. You don’t want to find out in the middle of the night that you ran out of diapers or wipes.
You probably will be sleep-deprived, and running to the nearest drug store might not be an option all the time. That’s why you can start shopping for baby essentials now and make sure your supply cabinet has more than enough baby supplies, such as
- formula(if you have decided to formula feed your baby),
- diaper rash creams,
- laundry detergent,
- dishwashing detergent,
- toilet paper, and
- hand soap.
Adopt a Healthier Lifestyle
While you’re mentally preparing to become a father, don’t forget to take a look at your physical health too. To be a great dad to your new baby, start adopting new, healthier habits and break the bad ones. Do you smoke?
It’d be a great time to quit smoking as exposure to secondhand smoke has been shown to increase the risk of cot death, congenital heart defects, and premature birth of your baby. Try to eat a healthy diet and get regular exercise.
Limit alcohol and try to get as much sleep as you can before bringing the baby home, as you might have to sleep in shifts once the kid arrives.
Spend Time With Babies
Are you a baby person, or does the thought of holding a tiny human being give you anxiety? Either way, it’s a good idea to spend time with babies to get more comfortable around them. Your friend recently had a baby?
Visit them and ask if you can hold their little one. Chances are they’d happily hand the baby off to you and use that time to take a nap. Don’t hesitate to ask your friend to show you how to support the neck when holding the baby.
Consider Going to a Therapist
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and struggling to adjust to the idea of becoming a new dad, going to a marriage and family therapist can be helpful. A trained and experienced therapist can also help you deal with prenatal and postpartum depression.
As expectant parents, you might have to juggle many things at once. Having a mental health professional to share your feelings can help you feel more in control of your life.
You might never feel fully mentally prepared for fatherhood, and that’s okay. Just know that you’re going to be a role model and one of the most influential people in your child’s life.
Take it one day at a time, enjoy this new phase of your life and remember that you can learn how to navigate your new reality of fatherhood as you go along.