For moms-to-be, pregnancy and birth brings about all sorts of physical and emotional changes. If you’re going through this life-changing experience with a partner by your side, remember that they’ll want to be part of it as well. Here are a couple of ways to involve a dad-to-be in pregnancy and parenting.
Before the baby is born
1. Include him in the pregnancy announcement
It’s inevitable that you’ll be the first to find out that you’re pregnant, and your partner is likely the first person you’ll tell. It’s up to you to decide how you’ll announce your pregnancy news to family and friends, but it’s always a good idea to involve your significant other in breaking the news. You can schedule a photoshoot of you two together holding the ultrasound, have him with you on video chat when you break the news to family and friends, or tag him in your post when you announce the news on your social media platforms.
2. Bring him along to your doctor’s visits
You’ll probably want to schedule your doctor’s visits around your schedule, but a great way to get your partner to feel involved in the pregnancy is to schedule an appointment during which he can see a sonogram and hear the baby’s heartbeat.
Since some appointments are more important than others (like that first ultrasound and the ultrasound when the gender is revealed), make sure he knows the relevant dates so that he is there too.
3. Make sure he gets a man shower/ dadchelor party
Your family and friends are probably planning a baby shower for you, but what about your partner? You can have him attend your baby shower or take it a notch higher by making sure he gets a dadchelor party. A dadchelor party is essentially a baby shower for men that is usually planned by a friend or a group of friends of the father-to-be.
Give his closest guy friends some hints that they should throw him a party to celebrate his impending fatherhood. The celebration can be held in a backyard, at his favorite bar, or in his man cave. Allow his friends to plan whatever they like to do, whether it’s watching sports or playing video games.
4. Register together
It might be tempting to take full control of your baby registry, but consider involving your partner. While there are some big ticket purchases that you may have firm opinions about (the stroller, car seat, and crib, for example), there are some registry items that should be easy to discuss and agree on. For example, say your partner is keen on buying some sneakers for the baby that you don’t think you’ll need for now. Register for them regardless, so that your partner feels involved (plus, you might need them when your little one is older).
5. Decorate the nursery together
Even if you don’t trust your partner’s designing skills, it might be worth allowing him to contribute to the nursery decorating process. After narrowing down to a handful of patterns or colors that you love, ask him which he likes best.
After the baby is born
1. Allow him to get hands on from the beginning
Make sure that your partner is involved in the day-to-day care of your little one - diaper changing, bathing, dressing, playing, and settling - to help him build his skills and confidence. These daily care activities also create plenty of one-on-one time for your partner and the baby, which is an important building block of a positive relationship. Another bonus is that you’ll get to have a bit of time to yourself when your partner is taking care of your little one.
2. Learning the baby’s cues
As you might have noticed, babies give cues or signals to what they need through body language and behavior. Encourage your partner to pay attention to your little one’s cues, and over time they’ll learn to work out what the baby needs.
3. The importance of connecting through touch
Physical touch makes your little one feel safe and secure and also builds trust and connection. This type of bonding with babies (especially newborns) also stimulates their brain development. Encourage your partner to carry and hold your baby as often as possible. If he holds the baby to his chest, they can hear his heartbeat.
4. Encourage him to talk to your little one
Have your partner talk to the baby while carrying or changing him/her. For example, he can try saying, “Let’s get this dirty diaper changed. That feels so much better, doesn’t it? Don’t cry, I’ll be finished soon”. This helps strengthen the bond between your partner and the baby, plus every word that your little one helps develop his language and learning. Singing songs, reading books, and telling stories also have the same effect.
5. Helping out with breastfeeding
It’s easy for your partner to feel left out during breastfeeding. However, there are many ways he can offer his support. He can give practical support - place a glass of water nearby, grab the nursing pillow, or give massages to ease your tensed muscles. He can also help out with the housework and older kids while you’re nursing.
6. Get informed
Whether it’s your first or fourth baby, there’s always news information to learn. Encourage your partner to find information by talking with other dads, attending parenting groups, or searching online.
7. Be willing to accept help
If your partner says, “Is there anything I can do?”, it’s okay to say “Yes!” Talk to your partner about the different ways he can help out with the baby.
8. Avoid hovering
You may find yourself involuntarily cringing every time your partner bathes, holds, burps, or feeds your little one differently than you normally would. But as long as he’s not doing anything that could cause harm to the baby, let him be. Allow him to figure out how to care for your little one and offer encouragement as much as possible.
9. Don’t forget about your relationship
Having a baby can put strain on your relationship with your partner. Try to support each other and stay positive as you learn how to take care of your little one together.
While it’s important to make your partner feel involved in pregnancy and child care, don’t forget to look after yourself. Keep your energy up by making healthy lifestyle choices and getting as much sleep as possible.