How to Support Expectant Fathers

Having a baby is a thrilling time for expecting parents. When a pregnancy is discovered a seed of excitement is planted. When the parents to be are ready to share the news, they delightfully let everyone know the due date and from there the excitement begins to bloom.

Once the news gets out, suddenly mom-to-be is showered with attention. Everyone from family, friends and doctors focus on the expectant mom and cater to her physical and emotional needs. In the midst of all this excitement, where does this leave dad-to-be? Few might stop to think about what changes and feelings he may be experiencing. Poor dad, even he himself is probably so focused on his mate, he’s not had time to consider all the big changes awaiting him, especially if he’s going to be a first-time dad.

The proud father-to-be is also a huge part of “giving birth”, but usually doesn’t receive a lot of attention despite the fact today that fathers are encouraged and allowed to participate in the prenatal and birthing procedures. No longer are dads confined to waiting rooms, unlike in  previous generations. While dads today definitely have become more a part of being included in “having a baby”, it seems they somehow sometimes often get ignored a bit during the pregnancy period.

How can mom-to-be, family and friends support expectant fathers as they go through their own distinct myriad of emotions? 

Prenatal Visits

Moms can be inclusive by scheduling doctor appointments so dad is able to attend the prenatal appointments too. If this is not possible, at the very least try and schedule the appointment so dad-to-be can be present for the ultrasounds and experience the same wonderment.

Ensuring these are scheduled during a time where dad can be present will allow him to experience hearing the heartbeats and seeing his baby kick and move around in the womb. It will also help him understand all the procedures, tests and what to expect; this will give him a higher comfort level in being able to provide the right support when the big day comes.

Nursery

Another way to be inclusive is to ask the expectant father’s opinions on decorations, furniture and baby equipment. Moms should also include dad in the selection of baby’s layette. Often it is assumed dads aren’t interested in these activities, but this is not necessarily always the case.

Baby Shower

Family and friends should make an attempt to include dad in the baby shower. Traditionally only women were invited to these events, but times have changed. Including the expecting father to the shower will make him feel special and acknowledge that he too is having a baby. This will mean more to him than you’ll know. Many expectant fathers are ecstatic to be included during this special day.

Offer Advice and Encouragement

Baby Shower cake

Photo Credit: Leigh Goessl

Male friends and family who have children should try their best to support the expectant dad. This can be done by welcoming and introducing him into the world of parenting by telling anecdotes, sharing experiences and inviting questions he may be wondering about. “War stories” are a great source of information and wisdom.

Overnight Bag for Hospital

One of the essential things that is often forgotten is to remind dad he needs to have an overnight bag! This is probably one of the most overlooked things during the trip to the hospital. After being up for many hours of labor and birth, a shave and a fresh change of clothes will be welcomed. Today many hospitals even make room for dad to stay overnight.

Expectant parents are both in need of support. The days of figurehead fathers are long gone; dads today actively participate in all aspects of raising children, including the birthing process. Why should the expecting time be any different? Finding ways to support expectant fathers is an important part of the process. Both parents will be playing a central role in the birthing process and it is important that dad isn’t overlooked in the preparation period when everyone is anxiously awaiting baby’s arrival.


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