We all know that dads are much more involved nowadays than in generations past. These days, dads actually attend childbirth classes with their wives and are present during the baby’s birth. (Although, to be fair, that has been the trend since the 1970s.) Although expecting dads are stepping up to the plate more, some may still find it hard to bond with their babies-to-be, and may need a little nudging on how to be more involved during pregnancy. So, aside from attending childbirth classes, what are some other ways expecting dads can be involved?
- Attend childbirth classes. Yes, this list is supposed to be about other ways dads can be involved aside from childbirth classes, but this is so important that I want to emphasize it again. If your schedule permits, you should definitely do this. Nowadays, dads are expected to be active participants in the baby’s birth, which also means educating yourself on childbirth and labor.
- Attend the OB/GYN check-ups. Try to attend as many doctor’s appointments with your partner as your schedule permits, Jane Zhao from Baby Got Pack says. As with the childbirth classes, making this effort shows that you care. These appointments also keep you informed of the baby’s progress, and give you an opportunity to feel closer to your partner and baby.
- Attend breastfeeding classes. You would be surprised at how many dads are absent at breastfeeding classes. While it’s common to shelve this under “Mom’s thing,” it’s also important to remember that many women struggle with breastfeeding in the beginning. By educating yourself on breastfeeding, you will be positioned to help your partner and Baby should any issues arise. Don’t know where to start? Sign up for the breastfeeding class with your partner, and check out our previous post on how dads can help with breastfeeding.
- Do the heavy lifting. If you are there during the pregnancy (meaning , for example, you are not deployed or for another reason can’t be present), don’t let your partner lift anything heavy. This means, no big boxes, no laundry baskets, no storage bins, heavy grocery bags, chairs, or anything else you can think of in that category. Although lifting heavy objects does not have a correlation with miscarriage, it’s best that your partner not strain herself too much physically during pregnancy.
- Be patient. We interviewed approximately 20 women for this article, and this was the most common advice. Pregnant women have all sorts of hormones raging through them, and can be emotional, moody, and sometimes downright mean. Just accept it, don’t take anything too personally, and let your partner just cry it out – literally and figuratively.
- Help with baby gear research. The majority of moms we spoke to told us that they were the ones doing the research into car seats, strollers, cribs, diapers, and all the products that come with babies. This is one area where more dads can step in and be involved with. Even just giving your opinion on a few big-ticket items like the car seat and crib is an immense help to your partner, who is most likely going cross-eyed from all the research.
- Set up the crib – or hire someone to do it. Guys, please don’t let your pregnant wife/partner assemble the crib. Please. Just don’t. If you’re not handy (or, as mentioned earlier, are deployed or not able to be physically present), just hire someone to do it.
- Talk to the baby. Babies can hear Dad’s voice in the womb, so if you can, try to talk to the baby at least once a day. You can talk about anything, really: how your day was, how excited you are to meet baby soon, and you can even start reading books to the baby. When I was pregnant, Mr. Rad Dad would sing, “Do you want to build a snowman?” (just that one line, from the movie Frozen) to the baby. After the baby was born, singing that one line would calm him down when he was crying!
- Buy a toy and clothes for the baby. Most dads may hate shopping for themselves, but many like to do a little shopping for the baby! Buying a cute toy or a few outfits can help expecting dads strengthen their bond with baby.
- Watch the baby move. This will be easier to do as the baby gets bigger, particularly in the third trimester, but spend a few minutes with your partner each night and just watch the baby move around. You can even play with the baby a little by pushing gently on the belly!
Need more ideas? Parents Magazine also has a great list of suggestions on how expecting dads can bond with baby!
Dads, how did you bond with baby in the womb? Let us know in the comments!