There are lots of tips for new moms on how to plan for their baby’s delivery, but often times new dads can also use some advice.
Preparing for the big day
Expectant dads should start preparing their “hospital” bag at around 35 weeks of their partner’s pregnancy. Lots of people often wait until the last minute, which often results in them not being prepared. Ask your partner if they need help in preparing their bag so both will be ready when needed, especially if the baby comes earlier than expected.
Once labor has started and you have been admitted to the hospital, some of the rush will focus on the mom and there can be a lot of time spent waiting for contractions to increase in frequency and waiting for medication to kick in.
During those times, we want dads to be attentive to mom’s needs, but there are times when mom might want to sleep. In order to pass the time, dads might want to bring a book or a small electronic device.
During the birth
Around the time that the contractions get closer and things begin to steadily progressing, that’s when dads need to be ready to be part of the process.
Once mom is ready to deliver the baby, dads have a job to do. That’s to be at the bedside, to be a cheerleader for mom and to make sure mom’s needs are met. That can be accepting mom’s verbal venting, providing a hand to hold or a shoulder to cry on.
Once the baby is born, we love it when dad has the camera ready to capture some of baby’s first moments. Many moms take the first turn to hold the baby, but dads shouldn’t shy away from asking for their turn.
Some babies have to go to the warmer for a little bit and be evaluated by the medical team if there’s any concern about how the baby is transitioning and taking his or her first few breaths. Dads are always welcome to go to the warmer and ask to hold their child’s hand if that’s the case.
Having the “dad connection” at the right time can be extremely meaningful.
Sometimes dads can feel left out if mom is breastfeeding, but dads can bond with their newborn through “skin-to-skin” time. Dad will take his shirt off and hold the baby on their chest. This can help regulate the baby’s body temperature and can help soothe and calm the baby.
Dads can also help with diaper changes while in the hospital, which can be another easy way to bond with their child.
There are even special holding techniques dads can use to help soothe a fussy infant. A particular hold even has the nickname of the “Daddy Hold" (see video below).
Many times, medical teams are very accommodating in including new fathers in the care of newborns. It’s important that dads assert their eagerness to be included.