When it comes to pregnancy and childcare, you see all these articles addressing moms - how to deal with pregnancy, what to eat, what to do, how to manage the house, etc. You don’t see many blog posts or newspaper articles addressing dads about what they should do in these situations. This might be one of the prime reasons that dads feel so unprepared when they’re having kids - they have no idea what to expect or what to do, and they don’t have innumerable articles telling them how it plays out. For all you dads out there currently expecting kids, here are some tips you might find helpful during this period.
1. Be There:
There may be times where you feel left out. You may feel as though your wife and your baby share this special bond which has no place for you. If this is the case, keep in mind that she did carry that little thing in her body for 9 months, so the relationship she shares with your baby is bound to be different than the relationship you share with your baby; however, you must also keep in mind that you both made that little thing together, with the aim of raising your baby together. It may seem as though they have a close-knit bond, but if you are there and if you make your presence felt, you will see how welcome, wanted, and needed you are. You’re all meant to be a family together. You may share different bonds, but the bonds do exist, you just need to be there to feel it.
2. Be Involved:
Whether it comes to your wife’s pregnancy or taking care of your baby, remember that it’s important to be involved at every milestone. From doctor’s appointments to ultrasounds, to waking up in the middle of the night to a crying baby and a soiled diaper, this pregnancy and this childcare process are as much yours to deal with as it is your wife’s. Be involved every step of the way so that you don’t miss out and so that you can show her your support and take on your fair share of the responsibility. People give a lot of importance to the mother-baby bond, but that doesn’t make daddy dearest any less important. Be involved wherever you can. Obviously, nursing would not be a dad’s strong suit, but when your baby needs comforting or nappy changing, you can be there to make your little one clean and stink-free, or be there just to hold your child close to you and rock him/her back to sleep. Don’t let yourself be bound by conventions and stereotypes (like those about dads and cooking and cleaning).
Pregnancy and child-rearing is a stressful process, to say the least. Everybody is going through a lot of changes, including you. Your wife may be going through a lot of physiological changes, but you, Mr.Dad, are sure to be affected too, mentally and emotionally - having a kid is a big deal, so it’s natural. Keeping this in mind, with changes there are sure to be a lot of readjustments that need to take place. The dynamics of the relationship are definitely changing. Keep this in mind the next time you feel a fight coming on with your wife. You’re both dealing with this incredible new situation, so if you feel like you’re about to fight, work it out and work together to fix the issue. Another factor to think of is your baby - do you really want to expose your baby to your fights and that negativity?
Having a baby can be stressful, and as much as we like to go against stereotypes, there are some things that are based in biology that can’t change (nursing, being a prime example). In light of this, it may be safe to say that mums do a lot of the baby-related work throughout the day, especially considering the fact that they can’t start working immediately after having a baby, which means dad has to be away at work. In light of this, as the dad who is forced to be a work the whole day, you might want to take up the night shifts at home whenever possible. Your wife has dealt with your crying and pooping baby the entire day, so give her break at night. This will also give you some quality personal time to spend with your little one.
Going back to that feeling of disconnect or exclusion, it’s important for you, dad, to stay connected. It’s important to build a relationship with your child and a new relationship with your wife in this new situation. In order to do this, you’re going to have to be honest with your wife. Not only will this help you navigate around these uncharted waters, it’ll also make your wife feel supported and secure. You both need to be each other's partners, so don’t isolate and estrange yourself from the situation. Express your concerns so that your wife can help you eliminate them and help you be better connected to her and your baby.
Remember the important role you play in the family and work towards fulfilling the duties that come with that role, keeping in mind that your primary duty is to be a part of this family. You have as much a place in the family as your wife or your baby and you have as many responsibilities to follow through on as your wife does (maybe different kinds though). There’s no perfect right or wrong way to be a dad, you just have to do the best you can and have faith in yourself.
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