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According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information [NCBI]1, "Levels of father participation in parenting interventions are often very low, yet little is known about the factors which influence father engagement".2
Generally, parenting is perceived to be a mother's domain. For a father to be actively involved in the process, there are certain barriers to intervention that must be analysed as well as broken down effectively.
Key barriers commonly seen in a father's taking an active part in parenting include: the mother's role as the proverbial 'gatekeeper', generally held notions about the interventions being mother-focused, absence of awareness and knowledge of parenting solutions, as well as a lack of the relevance of interventions.3
The reported preferences of the fathers for particular content and practical factors highlight the requirement for advertising specifically targeted at fathers.
With an increased awareness among fathers, they can come to play a more active role in parenting. Many new fathers, however, are already doing just that.
Clinical research has come to the finding that today parents make definite contributions to infant development, spending much more time with their children as compared to several past decades.4
Studies have revealed the importance of the father's involvement as well as the relationship between the father and the child, both for the present generation as well as for generations to come.5
Here, let us see the 17 ways in which a father-to-be can prepare for fatherhood.
1. Realising your free time would no longer be 'free'
The most prominent change, and probably the change most felt by first-time parents, is that of no longer having the free time that they were used to.
With the arrival of the new entrant, their world - more often than not - begins revolving around the neonate, leaving them little time for any activities that they would have earlier done in their so-called free time.
2. Getting used to a schedule
With regular feedings and diaper changes to be kept track of, especially in the first year, a mother's life gets quite stressed out.
In order to be able to shoulder the responsibility and not add to the chaos, so to speak, the father must learn to design their activities around the baby's schedule.
Generally, a majority of the parents tend to get their chores done when the baby is either asleep or with other caregivers.
3. Learn to be efficient
With a baby entering the equation, the father-to-be will have to learn to be efficient, getting their work completed in whatever time remains to them from looking after the baby and coping with an erratic schedule.
Learn to make lists. Many phone applications can make your task easier. The more organized you are, the more you can get done in a short time.
4. Offering a helping hand
Lack of sleep as well as a body recovering from having delivered a baby, there is a lot that a new mother has to go through.
While some fathers might nod their head in agreement as the rest feign nonchalance, there is still much work to be done nonetheless.
Be prepared to feed, change, play with the baby and put them to sleep. More importantly, without being asked to. Simply the thought that she is not alone at probably the most challenging phase of her life can soothe the frayed nerves of many mothers.
Always keep in mind that your wife is going through pretty rough times. Even if she might not ask for it directly, she does need all the help and support that you can give her at this crucial time.
5. Be prepared
Generally, when expectant fathers imagine their future together with their child, they plan on things that they will do together, like going on hiking trips or camping.
Many tend to forget the interim period. The period where the nappies have to be changed, the body temperatures recorded and the bottle feed to be prepared in the middle of the night.
When you think of the time following the birth of your baby, it is usually advisable that you look ahead to the near future, mentally preparing yourself accordingly.
6. A little patience goes a long way
Be patient. Or at least try to be as patient as you can.
With a baby, everything can be quite unpredictable, to say the least. An otherwise healthy child can develop a rash overnight, or a temperature might soar, for no apparent reason.
It is best to keep a sane ahead, at all times. Even in situations which might justify a panicked response, it is best to keep your cool.
Always remember, no good ever came from panic.
7. Getting involved
Fathers-to-be should aim at being involved in their partner's pregnancy throughout the process. Take the time to accompany your wife to her regular check-ups so that you can be kept updated with the latest developments.
Also, try and read up as much as you can about pregnancy, delivery as well as caring for the new-born.
8. Be attentive
With a woman going through a wide range of hormonal fluctuations throughout the pregnancy, their partner can try to make an effort at being better attuned with their wife's emotions and feelings.
There might be times when the mother-to-be simply wants someone to hear her out, without judging her for her episodes of extreme moodiness. It is in situations such as these that their husbands can prove to be of the most help.
9. Establishing connections
Mid-way during the pregnancy, the foetus can start making out the sounds from the world outside.
This can be the ideal time to bond with the baby, by touching the mother's belly and speaking to the baby in a soft voice.
10. Am I ready?
A wide majority of fathers-to-be, from diverse social and cultural backgrounds, tend to go through the "I'm not ready to be a father" phase. Relax. It is perfectly normal.
Even if you have doubted yourself on many occasions and tried to brace yourself for the big change, do keep in mind that there is probably no way that you can be absolutely up to the challenge.
Becoming a father is an overwhelming experience, taking an emotional toll on the man as well. Some have even experienced hormonal fluctuations.
No one can be prepared. We can just learn on the way.
11. Don't be an absent dad
A common mistake that many of us unknowingly make is not spending enough time with our kids. As our kids grow up, the more they start noticing.
Always keep aside some exclusive time, fully dedicated to your child. Taking your new-born out for a walk or a simple trip to the supermarket with your toddler, there is a lot that you can do to make your child happy.
In the digital age that we live in, many of us are guilty of distracted parenting. Scrolling the news on our phone or catching up with friends via a video-call while we sit next to our kids, apparently playing withthem.
Kids do notice, even if they might not mention the same.
12. Let them play
Playing sparks imagination. Try to expose the mind of your child to a variety of playthings. The wider the experience, the more is their all-round development.
The right toys can go a long way in developing your child's motor skills and sensory perceptions. Always make it a point to introduce your child to age-appropriate toys so that they can learn without harming or injuring themselves during the process.
13. Cherish your time together
While the first year following the birth of your child might appear to be the longest and even un-ending at times, it too shall pass.
Take the time to build lasting memories. Cherish the precious moments that you get to spend with your little ones.
Before you realize it, they might not be that little anymore.
14. Make preparations at your workplace
With your wife about to deliver soon, it is always advisable to begin making certain preparations at your workplace, that too, well in time.
Try to wind-up the most important projects that you might have with you. Also, find the right person that can look after and handle your work in your absence. Take some time to get together with them and explain the basics.
Make the right preparations at your workplace much before the expected due date. That way, your work would not suffer ifthere are some last-minute complications or the baby is born before time.
15. Getting used to the third
For an expectant dad, it is essential that they get used to the idea of soon being with another person, more so if that is the couple's first pregnancy together.
Once the child is born, it will never simply be about the missus alone. There is a third to be considered. All future plans will well be for a threesome.
16. You can do it
A good way of coming to grips with the situation is that of creative visualization.
By imagining yourself as if your baby had already been born, you will be able to feel more in control of your altered situation.
17. Don't worry too much
All things said and done, quit fretting and worrying yourself too much. It is another matter to plan ahead, and quite another matter to simply lose your head in the process.
Be prepared. Be informed. But don't panic.