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Preparing For Fatherhood: How To Find Balance Before Baby Arrives

If you’re currently preparing for fatherhood, life can feel overwhelming. Whether you’ve been hoping for this moment for years or are still in shock from the news, that baby is coming and the only thing you can do about it is to prepare accordingly.

Most parents tend to agree: there’s no way to really prepare for motherhood and fatherhood. But new fathers-to-be can certainly take some proactive steps towards at least feeling more prepared. That way, when the moment arrives and life feels surreal, you can lean on some practiced habits and routines to navigate the newness.

Get healthy, and stay healthy

New fathers will have far less personal time to focus on their own health and wellness once baby arrives, especially at first. If healthy habits aren’t ingrained in your psyche by the time your child is born, then life will become a slippery slope of poor sleep, weight gain, sickness, and irritability.

At the very least, consider quitting smoking, giving up sodas, and throwing away processed carbs. Focus on getting great sleep, eating whole foods with a healthy mix of fats, proteins, and complex carbs, and exercising regularly.

Also, it’s not a bad idea to get that physical you’ve been putting off for a few years. It’s better to catch life-changing issues early if possible when preparing for fatherhood.

Decide what father you want to be

The one intrinsic aspect of parenting that we all share is that we all had parents (or guardians) that raised us. You know deep down what sort of man you want to be for your child, and what sort of man you don’t want to be. Take the time pre-baby to do some self-reflection and decide exactly what you’d like to emulate from your childhood and what you’d like to try to avoid.

“Winging it” is a part of parenting, yes, but having a plan for the type of temperament you exhibit and example you set will help recenter you when times get tough and the baby tests your patience.

Go to Mom’s appointments whenever you can

One of the best parts about professional nurses, pediatricians, and other childcare experts is the free advice they’ll give you — all you have to do is ask and pay attention. Seeing your little one on an ultrasound is magical, yes, but learning about the development of the fetus in its various stages will help you understand what to expect in many ways, too.

Ask questions and seek input. Ultimately, you can take it or leave it, but unless you ask, you’ll never know the answer. And you’ll also find that most people want to help you.

Talk to your partner about responsibilities

There’s a lot to do to prepare for a new arrival. It’s definitely not just about carrying the baby. Creating a registry, preparing a space, saving money, researching child care, and so many more items will need to be tackled to prepare for your newborn.

Some concrete things fathers can do before baby comes:

  • line up childcare insurance
  • put together baby’s furniture
  • learn how to install a car seat
  • pack a hospital bag
  • learn the differences between breast milk and formula
  • learn exactly what’s about to happen to Mom’s body as she gives birth
  • help line up parental leave for you and your partner

Learn about the toll pregnancy takes on mental health

Understanding postpartum depression can make all the difference. The female brain undergoes an immense transformation, hormonally and otherwise, during pregnancy. Men’s brains also undergo transformation. Sometimes, it takes time for both of you to recalibrate and feel like your old selves again. Those are the moments when new fathers can shine.

Your presence with both baby and mother will be vital to the success of your family. Maybe that looks like seeking professional help when necessary, shouldering a bigger load of parenting responsibilities on “down” days, or just being a shoulder for mom to rest upon.

After all, parenting is a team effort, and the game never stops for the rest of your lives. Learning to support each other in moments of weakness is what life’s all about, so don’t disregard your partner’s feelings, nor your own.

What do you think?


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