10 top tips for dads-to-be

Impending fatherhood and dealing with an emotional pregnant missus can be daunting for a dad-to-be. Men, read these top tips to sail through pregnancy…

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1) Tell the mum-to-be she looks sexy no matter how fat/bloated/ hairy/spotty/grumpy she gets

‘We pregnant ladies are paranoid, hyper-sensitive and high on hormones – or at least I know I was,’ says Karen Watts, mum to Dougie, five months. ‘I felt hideously unattractive and nothing like the woman my hubbie fell in love with, so it really helped that he was always telling me I was beautiful and how much he loved me. I didn’t believe the beautiful bit, but feeling loved and supported made the whole pregnancy so much easier!’

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2) Pamper the mum-to-be, ease her aches and pains and indulge her cravings

‘The way I saw it, Claire was doing all the hard work carrying our baby, so it was my job to do whatever I could to make it easier on her,’ says Darren Weatherby, dad to Lucy, 17 months. ‘I massaged Claire’s feet when she got home from work and made her a cup of tea when she woke in the night. I kept a stash of chocolate in the kitchen for those late-night cravings too! I even booked her in for a spa day and pregnancy massage. I hope she felt loved and cared for. I certainly did my best, and I know it’s just as important to keep up the good work now that she’s rushed off her feet caring for our daughter.’

3) Take an active interest in the pregnancy’s progress

‘With our first pregnancy, my wife bought an endless supply of books with pictures of what seemed like day-by-day changes in the baby,’ says James Smith, dad to Lucy, two, and Peter, 11 months. ‘I mocked at first, but when it came to the birth classes I realised what I’d missed. The second time around, I was much more involved, which was especially important as we had a few scares. It was vital that I knew what to ask the doctors, and what our options were, so we could make informed decisions.’

4) Keep communicating

‘Communicating with each other is vital,’ says Tim Mungeam, father of three and former CEO of the charity Parentalk. ‘If you don’t talk, misunderstandings can quickly arise. You don’t have to get on the psychiatrist’s couch every time you have a conversation, but switch off the TV occasionally, or have a meal together – and remember to listen as well as talk.’

5) Respect and support thy partner’s birth choices

‘When Catherine proposed a home birth, I could only foresee disaster – why do hospitals have maternity wards if babies were meant to be born at home?’ says Jonathan Bruton, dad to Joe, four, and Elsie, two. ‘However, having talked the issues through with Catherine and our midwife, I came around to the idea, and would now support anyone who chooses to have a home birth. Constructing the birth pool at three in the morning proved quite challenging, but the experience of being at home with Catherine was brilliant. Being able to offer her the support she needed to have the birth she wanted undoubtedly brought us closer together. Whatever decisions you make about the birth, making them together will ensure it’s a positive experience for both of you.’

6) Get to grip with the baby gadgets before the birth

‘Assembling the cot; attaching the car seat; folding the pram – there’s so much to get to grips with, and those pesky instructions will make even less sense when you are sleep-deprived with a new baby. Try it all out before the birth,’ suggests Jimmy Pressley, dad to Jacques, three, Luc, two, and Max, five months. ‘When we came home from the hospital with Jacques, my partner Fleur collapsed on the bed while I was bringing our son inside. But 15 minutes later it was all too quiet in the house, and she came downstairs to find me upside-down in the back of the car, still trying to remove Jacques from the car seat!’

7) Take a fair share of all the sleepless nights, nappy changes, and other important parenting decisions

‘You’ve committed to having a baby together so you have a responsibility to do your fair share – and you’ll really benefit if you do,’ says William Butler, dad to Josh, seven, Toby, four, and Theo, two. ‘You get back whatever you put in – even the tough bits, like night feeds and changing smelly nappies, present opportunities to bond and cement the relationship. Don’t let mum make all the parenting decisions either. Making those tough calls together will make it so much easier on both of you. Teamwork is the key to happy parenting!’

8) Give the new mum some ‘me time’

‘Being a mum is relentless’ explains Nicola Smith, mum to Lucy, two, and Peter, 11 months. ‘The amount of organisation required to feed, dress, clean and mobilise my two certainly reinforces the belief that all women are great multitaskers. But mums need guilt-free time to just switch off – preferably away from the home. If dad can babysit so that mum can get out and away – even if it’s just for a hour – it makes all the difference. It’s even better to make it a regular slot, so that she can look forward to it!’

9) Do not say ‘My mum thinks we should do it this way…’

‘Friends, family members and even complete strangers will happily share their pearls of parenting wisdom, solicited or otherwise,’ says parenting coach Sharon Thompson. ‘Though intentioned, this isn’t always helpful and may even undermine the fragile confidence of a new mum. Encourage your partner to trust her own instincts, rather than worrying about what other people think, and keep telling her what a great mum she is. In public, it is important to demonstrate to family and friends that the decisions you are making about the upbringing of your child are jointly made. Any disagreements you may have should be discussed private, not in front of family.’

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10) Find time to be a couple

‘The closer the two of you are, the better you will be able to manage the new member of the family,’ says relationship counsellor Gillian Walton. ‘Make time for baby-free intimacy and take time out to talk and reconnect as couple. Quality time will help keep the romance alive. After all, happy mummies and daddies make for happy families!’

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