Becoming a first time dad has to be of the most exciting and life-altering experience for a man. In many ways, it can make us a better person and focus on what truly matters in life.
I can still recall what it was like being a first-time father, getting the baby bag packed and ready for rushing to the hospital at a moment’s notice.
Anxiety pangs about whether it would be a smooth, safe and healthy delivery plagued me constantly. On the other hand I day-dreamed about what the little one would look like, spending hours pouring through names, making the little ‘nest’ ready at home.
BTW, the ‘nest’ thing is interesting as one of my first dates with my then girlfriend (wife now) was to watch an omni-theatre (3-D) documentary on the life of 2 young beavers setting up their new home and preparing for their new brood. How romantic!
So when does one start preparing to be a first-time dad?
On hind-sight, there was a lot more that I could have done, if only I had taken the time and interest to read and learn from others and given myself sufficient mental preparation.
Helpful tips for being a dad for the first time
- Join an antenatal class
Most hospitals should have their recommendations.The tips and lessons you get are tremendous. You get to know about breathing techniques (for your wife, not you), what to expect on delivery day, pain control options (again for your wife, not you), how to properly bathe a new-born, how to change nappies, etc
- Be very supportive of your wife.
Hey it is her first time too.Imagine for a moment that you are the one carrying the baby and seeing your body change for 9 months!I don’t know about you, but I would probably freak out. Don’t forget to talk. A little cuddle, some tender-loving care, lots of reassurances (especially of the way she looks and the fear of not regaining her figure) ..
- Plan your time.
This is actually the simplest of all but easily forgotten.Make sure that you arrange for sufficient time off to be around for at least the first week of baby coming home. Your wife is going to need all the help she can get.Defer or postpone all non-emergency appointments at work ahead of time and prep your boss that you are not going to be around for a while, especially not during delivery-date.
- Mentally prepare to help out in the night shift.
This is especially important if you are the type that sleeps like a log, which is probably 80% of us men (I kid that figure should be 99%).Our better half would have been exhausted by the time the day ends. If not every day, at least 3 out of 7 days? Notice I said mentally prepared? It is probably all in our minds. Some training required here.
- Make lasting memories.
One of the things I have regretted is not having the discipline to take enough photographs to chronicle the growth and changes of J. If you have a video-cam, that is even better. You never know, one of these days, a playback of a video clip or browsing through photographs can carry you through some hard knocks in life. It does remind you of what is really important in life.
These are my man-in-the-street thoughts on preparations to be a first-time dad. Being a better dad will always require effort. Needless to say, being a first-time dad would demand even more of you. It would be worth the while though.
Whilst the effort is immense but so are the rewards. Have fun and remember to enjoy the journey!
Would love to hear your comments!
Editors Note: This post was first published in October 2008 and has since been updated.