The world of fatherhood can seem like a daunting task. But fret not, with sufficient preparation, the journey will be made much more enjoyable. From prenatal to postnatal stage, here are 10 tips to help prepare you for fatherhood.
1. Know your partner’s needs
You are your partner’s biggest cheerleader during her pregnancy. Be there for her as much as possible. Don’t be surprised if she wakes you up in the middle of the night with a burning food craving. Keep a lookout for any food aversions, comfort her during emotional periods, and assist her when physical limitations sets in, especially during the advanced stages of pregnancy. By doing so, you forge a closer relationship with your wife.
2. Be the timekeeper
Help your wife out as much as you can. Be her best sidekick and help her by jotting down the dates of clinic appointments and reminding her of the things that she needs to keep track of.
3. Work closely with your partner
You, your wife and your obstetrician are a team. Discuss with your obstetrician on the various options available with regards to birth plan during labour. Be sure to attend every single consultation if you can and don’t be afraid to ask questions when you are unsure. After all, readiness holds the key to alleviate anxiety.
4. Get advice from loved ones
Clueless about the choice of obstetrician, hospital, mode of delivery, and birth plan? Why not seek help from family and friends who have had prior experiences with pregnancy and childbirth? They might just be able to give you tips on the places to go to for antenatal classes, hospital and labour ward tours, and even the things you need to prepare. “Be vigilant in seeking knowledge about pregnancy and childbirth. Participate actively for a fulfilling and rewarding experience in becoming a first-time father,” reminds Dr Jazlan Joosoph, Specialist in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Raffles Women’s Centre.
5. Keep the spark alive
Pregnancy does not necessarily mean abstinence from sex. Dr Seng Shay Way, Specialist in Obstetrics and Gynaecology & Consultant, Raffles Women’s Centre, shared: “One can have intercourse, as long as the pregnancy is progressing normally, and there are no complications such as unexplained vaginal bleeding, preterm labour and more.”
6. Recognise the signs of labour
How do you know if your wife is in labour? Here’s a tip from Dr Jazlan – place your palm on your wife’s abdomen to feel and time the contractions. The more advanced the labour, the stronger and closer the uterine contractions are, and the more distressed your wife will be. “Sometimes the water bag or the amniotic sac ruptures before the onset of labour. Recognise this by the presence of free-flowing warm clear fluid from the vagina down the inner thighs,” added Dr Jazlan.
7. Prepare the necessary
You don’t want to be worrying over what you have missed out when your wife is about to deliver. So prepare the things that the baby is going to need in advance – such as purchasing the baby cot, breastfeeding pumps and even stocking up on diapers. Closer to the delivery date, be contactable at all times. For those who plan to drive to the hospital, make sure you know the route to take. Remember to pack a bag of necessities (e.g. clothes, towels, toiletries) for your baby, wife and yourself.
8. Overcome your phobia
Keen to witness the arrival of your newborn? Before that, you need to recognise and overcome any phobia you have e.g. blood, needles. “It is important to verbalise such fears and anxieties so that special arrangements can be made to cater to their special needs,” advised Dr Jazlan.
9. Seek help when feeling down
No parents are perfect. So don’t be too hard on yourself and expect everything to go smoothly. Feeling stressed up or feeling down is common. Also, know that postnatal depression is not limited to women. According to an American study, over 10 per cent of new dads become depressed after the birth of their newborn. Symptoms may include depressed mood, loss of interest in activities, fatigue, difficulties in sleeping and suicidal thoughts. If you experience this, remember that you are not alone and help is available.
10. Bond with the baby
The fun part about parenthood is getting involved. So have fun in doing the daily chores and sharing the load with your wife. This includes nappy changing, feeding, playing and holding the baby. Not only does it build your parenting skills and confidence, such bonding sessions can also stimulate your child’s brain development.
Image sources: Pexels
Source: Raffles Health News August, 2014. Quoting Dr Jazlan Joosoph, Dr Seng Shay Way and Dr Wendy Sinnathamby.