When my wife surprised me with the news that she was pregnant, a wave of euphoria washed over me. The next day, however, another emotion crept in — panic. What do I do now? What should I know? What don’t I know?
In the beginning, I felt a little like a bystander in the pregnancy adventure. My wife was doing all the work growing a baby. What could I be doing? Naturally, you will want to help your wife with everything she needs, both big and small (right, honey?), but there are other proactive measures you can take. In honor of Father’s Day, here are some quick tips for navigating pregnancy as a future dad:
- Remove every strong-smelling food from the house. My wife’s morning sickness was relatively mild, but I never knew which smell would trigger it. Barbecue was banned in our house for most of her pregnancy, along with all seafood.
- Register for child care. Explore your child care options and get on the waitlist for your preferred provider as soon as possible. We thought we were planning ahead by getting on the waitlist during month three. Sixteen months later, a spot finally opened up.
- Get in shape. Focus on healthy eating and exercise as much as possible while you still have “free time” before the baby comes. You’ll feel better, and your body will be able to better handle the stress, sleep deprivation and poor diet that many new parents experience.
- Go on spontaneous dates. These days, we plan date nights weeks in advance and pay the babysitter surcharge. However, while my wife was pregnant, we regularly went out to dinner and took day trips. We knew how difficult it would be to be spontaneous with a baby, so we took advantage of our freedom every chance we had.
- Relax. For us, the second trimester was when we got to really enjoy pregnancy. My wife’s morning sickness ended and she had no trouble moving around. The baby started kicking. Take a moment and take all of it in!
- Spend quality time with your friends. It is easy to let your friendships lapse once your baby is born. That is why you need to make an extra effort to keep those bonds strong beforehand. Pick one evening a week to hang out with your friends, and encourage your partner to do the same.
- Embrace yard sales. Following your baby shower(s), assess what you still need and hit up every yard sale in town. There’s no need to pay full price for anything the baby will outgrow in three months. Trust me — parents are more than willing to cheaply sell or give away their old baby stuff.
- Go on a babymoon. Seriously. We took a weekend vacation to the mountains and it gave us a chance to truly relax before welcoming our new family member.
- Prep your hospital bag way in advance. Two weeks before our due date, the nursery was set up, the car seat was installed and our bags were packed and waiting by the door. This preparation removed a lot of the stress of the final few weeks!
The bottom line: there are plenty of things that future fathers can do for both their partners and themselves to prepare for a baby’s arrival. A little self-care over these nine months will go a long way!