Pregnancy is as long as it is short. Though the 9 months or so leading up to birth does allow the wonderful time to prepare. It seems like moms usually get the responsibility to figuring out how to prepare things often because they wish to design their nursery a certain way or often want a particular list of what they consider baby essentials.
The good dads help with the construction, decorating, maybe join along for appointments, and otherwise help the mom during this vulnerable and stressful time for her.
However, it is good to think of the new dad too so he can be prepared himself and supported as he enters a new life phase. It is also good to help dads be ready when the baby arrives so they can get those precious moments to bond with the little one as well.
After asking some dads what they were thinking about and dealing with, I have an idea of the problems they are trying to plan for.
1. Paternity Leave Issues
There is a federal law in the United States that states your husband, the employee, should be provided 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected parental leave.
Dad has to go to his Human Resources Department and check what all is required and figure out if there is anything else he can access. Some companies have benefits or there are state things in place to give partial or full paid parental leave.
Often it is that paid part that makes dads hesitate as his concern will be to make all he can to cover family needs. Help him figure out what rights he has, what benefits he has access too, or otherwise figure out how to support him.
Dads who get paternity leave are able to enjoy the moment of being with their newborn and get those precious moments. They also have time to assist the new mom with basic things.
Depending on how the birth happens she might need some help to reduce any pain and speed up healing. It might be easier for dad to run a quick errand while mom is figuring out feeding, cleaning, or soothing.
Many dads are known to feel early dad frustration. They want to help and depending on their exposure to children and how prepared they are, they may go into this with anxiety or some other feeling of unease.
Helping a dad establish what needs to be done and how he can help and the work you will do as a mom, will help dad go into it all with a plan and clear goals. It will also help him establish he is doing a great job.
2. Learn How to Change Diapers
Another area a new dad might not feel prepared is the issue of how to help with diapers. Babies need to be changed very often and it helps to have both parents able to do the task regardless of who takes over the bulk of the changing as decided by the family.
There are guides, videos, and baby classes you can either sign up and attend virtually or limited places doing in person depending on Covid protocols. It helps to do it as a couple since new mom might need the information too depending on her own background with children.
Some men prefer to connect with other dads through some social means and be taught from another dad.
It works well to be in a house where you are both prepared to do the jobs that need to get done.
There is also the issue of cloth diapering vs disposable diapering. There are also a lot of diaper options to choose from. One of my strategies is to get many cheap diaper options off Facebook Marketplace just to get some variety to play with and review.
Mr.Dabbles and I would like to try out cloth diapering though we both need to familiarize with all the options and how to effectively use said diaper types.
3. Prep Food for the First Few Weeks
After baby is out things will be hectic at first. You have to adjust to your new role as parent while your kid is getting used to being in the new world. This is where dad can help. You both sit down and figure out a menu for the first few weeks or go ahead and prep some freezer meals.
Some companies have the perk of home-delivered meals for new children, so be sure to check if you or the dad have that perk.
If cooking is the only option, you can help dad prepare some easy meals where all he need is to stick something in an oven or crockpot for a bit and create delicious foods. In this way the dad can keep his needs and mom’s needs covered, while mom is focusing on the baby.
This should be prepared for about a month ahead of estimated baby delivery time so long as you have the freezer space or the shelf stable food. He will not want to have to run to the grocery store and deal with all that when he now has his baby at home.
Dads can be a huge help here even if all he is doing is sticking a frozen meal into the oven or crockpot.
4. Tour the Hospital and Test Hospital Routes
It helps to have both an idea of the hospital layout as well as the path you want to take to get there when the day arrives. Hospitals can be huge and are sometimes arranged like a maze. It helps to be able to figure out how you will navigate until you get passed onto a health team to take it over.
The last thing you want to deal with is getting lost on the way to the hospital or taking a route that ends up being a horrible one with some issue or worse you end up lost. You also don’t want to figure out how you will do parking because facilities usually have different parking variables to think about.
5. Health Insurance Woes
Health insurance can be a tricky area for parents depending on how their accounts are arranged. If you have separate health insurance with the dad, it is important to figure out insurance for the baby. You need to figure out premium costs, run the numbers on what your plans cover.
Sometimes you will want to opt to put the baby on the dad’s insurance plan. New dad will have to prepare to have his new child added. There will be regulations and insurance processes as well as other paperwork or calling he might have to work through. The hospital also needs to be questioned so everything can be strategized beforehand.
Regulations vary state to state. So be sure to get familiarized with how your state works.
6. Figure Out Sleep Times
With nightly feedings of either formula or breastmilk usually both parents will suffer some sleep consequences. The first few months are said to be the most intense where the baby will require feedings usually in the every 2 hours range and often what are called cluster feedings where the child is just very demanding with being fed.
This is where a dad can be a hero as he can schedule in where he takes over some of the night feeding. The alternative is a mom who wakes up 3 or 6 times a night over months and starts to mentally lose it because on top of postpartum effects she is unable to get sleep.
Some women prefer to breastfeed and women all have different ways they want to go about breastfeeding. If mom is pumping then no issue as dad can feed from milk pouches mom has already pumped and stashed away.
If there is a situation where mom has to get up and feed then dad can opt to pick up a different night job to help mom get back to sleep sooner. Either help with a diaper change or if fussy stay up with the baby a bit.
Though dads need to sleep too. So start discussing now how you will mitigate the blow to both of your sleep schedules.
You are there to help each other.
Many parents are stressed out though you end up with even more stress by not being ready before the baby arrives. Stress, resentment, and pure chaos reduce by magnitudes by getting the logistics worked out beforehand.