** So, you're going to be a Dad? **
Welcome to the club! As a father of two wonderful boys, I can tell you that becoming a parent will be the most fulfilling experience of your life. It's normal to feel a little useless during the pregnancy, birth, and the first few months of your new baby's life - let's face it, we don't have the hardware to give birth or breastfeed - but that doesn't have to mean there's nothing you can do to feel more involved and have a fulfilling experience during this time...
Guys, this is just her domain – nature did not intend us to carry the cross on this one: we can’t have the contractions for her, we can’t give birth, we can’t undergo the caesarean for her, and we can’t breastfeed for her.
BUT – there are things we can do!
Help her get healthy - give up smoking, lay off the alcohol, and adopt a lifestyle of health eating and regular exercise.
Go to pregnancy classes with her – learn about the changes in her body so you may have some understanding of why she might be feeling tired quite often, or want you to go out at 2:00 am for a vegemite and marshmallow pizza.
Try to attend some prenatal appointments with your obstetrician - it will help you stay informed with where your partner is up to in her journey, and to hear her voice her concerns.
Be motivated in preparing your home for baby - schedule shopping trips to look at cots, prams etc. Oh, and the car seat installation? That's your job!
If your partner is breastfeeding, she will need to drink lots of water - making milk requires women to stay well-hydrated. Get up with her overnight when she’s feeding and get her a drink or two.
If she chooses to bottle-feed, alternate feeds overnight so that you both can get some rest. Plus, it's a great time for you to bond with baby!
Keep her company while she feeds, and help change baby's nappy and put them back to bed - it all makes that incredibly tiring job just that little bit easier!
This one goes without saying!
Let's face it, she's growing your baby and that's not one we can ever repay. So, show her how special she is and pamper her as much as you can.
Run a bath after a long day; become skilled in back and foot massage, and go out to dinner as often as you can before baby comes along!
There's no doubt about it: a baby is a game-changer!
You've never been a parent before, and nobody has ever raised your baby before; despite all the advice, nobody really knows what you are about to go through. Everything changes; there's a new person in your life, and they are the most special thing you could imagine. Things are, by definition, no longer how they used to be. And, while your heart is filled with love and excitement for your new lives together, some aspects cans be challenging: maybe baby isn't sleeping well, or seems to be unsettled often; maybe it's taking a while to get the hang of feeding; maybe it seems nobody is sleeping well, are everyone is getting a bit grumpy...
It's important to realise that these changes are normal. Even expected. Taking on the role of parents for the first time is stressful - but it is most important to keep the lines of communication between you and your partner open. Talk about how things are going, and what things you are both finding difficult. Friends, family, and health professionals can be useful supports, but learning to be there for each other and acknowledge your concerns with each other will help you to build a successful family unit that will give stability through even the most challenging times.
Sometimes, however, both new mums or dads may become overwhelmed and feel unable to cope, and professional help may be needed. Again, keeping strong communication between you and your partner will ensure that significant problems are identified, and expert help sought when needed.
Doing things such as these will really help your lovely lady make it through a challenging time and will show her how much you love and respect her - and you will find you can have a fulfilling and satisfying role, despite your anatomical deficiencies!
Some other suggested books and resources:
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David is a Fellow of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and undertook his specialist training in Queensland. He is highly skilled in the management of complex and high-risk pregnancies, and has special training in minimally-invasive surgery, endometriosis, pelvic floor and incontinence surgery. David has completed a Master of Reproductive Medicine and is skilled in the assessment and management of fertility problems, and can offer the full range of assisted reproductive treatments. He is a Senior Lecturer with The University of Queensland Medical School, and has published both medical journal and textbook contributions.
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