If you ask most fathers, they will often say that no man is every truly prepared to become a parent. After all, when you attend all of the antenatal classes and read the books about having a baby almost all of the information is focused on mother and baby. But what about the Dad’s? This is where John Pfeiffer’s book “Dude, you’re gonna be a Dad!” comes in. Its written by a dad for other dads to help navigate their role during pregnancy. It tells the story from conception through to birth, with typical male humour, to help you understand exactly what you are going to face as you go through the journey of becoming a father for the first time. So, what exactly does the book teach us?
The book starts out by taking you through the process of conceiving. The harsh truth is that it can often take a lot longer than anyone expects. We all know that couple that took years to actually get pregnant. So, it’s important to understand the details of your partners cycle and what happens in the event that you do find it difficult to conceive. The key message being one of understanding and patience. Likewise, if conception happens incredibly quickly, its important to understand that miscarriages are most common in the first trimester and so the importance of choosing when to announce you are expecting comes in to play. It is often wiser to wait until after the first trimester, as the emotional toll of having to publicly deal with a miscarriage is very tough.
Then there are also all of the trips to the doctor and the challenges in navigating an appointment that may clash with an important work meeting. Whilst its understandable that you cant make all the appointments, the book goes in to detail about the appointments you should be at, including those where the pregnancy is confirmed, you hear the heartbeat for the first time and get the first ultrasound (typically appointments one, three and four). While all of this is happening, you will also have to deal with a partner who is likely dealing with morning sickness and so details how items like lemon and ginger can help you to make her a cup of tea that will help calm her stomach. Not to mention making sure that you still make time to show her that you love her despite the changes she is going through, which can make her feel less than her normal vibrant self.
The second trimester typically means that there is a much lower risk of miscarriage, but now your partner is going to be experiencing those famous pregnancy mood swings and hormone fluctuations along with other symptoms such as heartburn and snoring! It is also the time when you are able to fins out if you are having a baby boy or baby girl. Its very important to discuss whether you want to find this out or not. There is no right or wrong answer here, ultimately it is a personal decision, but if your partner wants to keep it a surprise and you find out anyway, be prepared to be in her bad books.
The second trimester is also a great time to start discussing names. This may seem quite straight forward, but it can actually cause a lot of heated debate. You may love a certain name, but if someone with that same name bullied your partner in school, its never going to happen. Also remember, a name is for life, Apple may seem cute for a baby, but as an adult, it is not, even if your mother is Gweneth Paltrow. Finally, its also the best time to start to get as much of the baby stuff as you can. Waiting until the final trimester is always a risk as babies can be born early. It’s also incredibly expensive to have a baby, so the earlier you start, the longer you can stretch out the financial cost of having to buy everything.
This is when everything starts to get real. Its time to make sure that you know what to do when your partner goes into labour. Its highly recommended that you sign up for antenatal or birthing classes. You don’t need to know all of the technical ins and outs from a medical point of view, but its important to know what is going to happen and when because your partner is going to be looking to you for support. Therefore, its vital that you know your partners birthing preferences, and what the contingency plans are should something not go to plan. After all, it very rarely goes to plan. Does your partner want to try a natural birth, does she want a caesarean, is she allergic to any of the potential medications? Do you want to cut the umbilical cord? Do you want to turn the placenta in to capsules or save the stem cells in case the baby develops some sort of condition down the line? When it comes to labour, your partner is likely not going to be in a position to make calm, rational choices and its important you are there to understand what is needed and support her through it.
Did you know that only 4% of births happen on their due date? This means that from pretty much week 38 it could happen at any time. 98% of births happen between weeks 38-42. Its important to make sure that you have the labour bag packed, and not only have you packed everything for your partner and baby, but that you also have plenty of snacks and entertainment for yourself. You are going to spend several hours just sat around waiting. At the same time, you need to be constantly ready to support her through the labour process. But make no mistakes, the first 70-80 percent of the labour process as a dad is you just waiting for her to dilate further.