Hey Dad! You have a baby on the way? Now what?
What Dads should do between finding out you're expecting a baby and when it is born.
Right now there is probably all kinds of emotions going through your head. Relax! That's normal. It doesn't matter if its your first baby or your third, you will have all kinds of feelings and emotions. You will likely be excited, happy, nervous, scared, stressed, as well as many other things. Your life is about to change forever! Being a parent is has been the most rewarding thing of my entire life. You are responsible for another human being for 18+ years. Ahead of you will be great times, laughter, tears, and everything in between.
"She's the one with the mini version of you growing in her belly and we will NEVER fully understand what that feels like."
Well there is good new and bad news!
Good news is that none of the doctor appointments will be for you. However, there will be quite a few doctor appointments for her. More good news is you won't have to go multiple times to give blood or have a stranger rub some weird gel on your belly and poke you with a wand attached to some weird machine in a dark room. You won't have to have someone poke you, take your temperature, blood pressure or ask a bunch of questions about periods and stuff. But guess who does? Yep! Mommy does. So if she is a bit emotional during the pregnancy, give her some slack. She's the one with the mini version of you growing in her belly and we will NEVER fully understand what that feels like.
The bad news is that you will still have to go to some of those appointments. You may be thinking to yourself "I'm definitely not going!". Well I have some news for you man - It's in your best interest to go to some of them out of support for your wife, fiancé, girlfriend, ex-girlfriend, or whatever relationship mamma bear is to you. Don't worry, I'm going to make it very easy to help you decide which appointments you will want to go to, if doctor appointments really aren't your thing. Let's take a look.
Confirmation on Pregnancy - So she took a test and it said she was pregnant. She will likely now schedule an appointment with her gynecologist to confirm the pregnancy. Not a lot will happen at this appointment aside from confirmation and scheduling follow up appointments. She may or may not want you at this one.
Ultrasound Appointments - These are fun. These are the appointments with the weird machine mentioned earlier. You will get to see the baby on a monitor and hear the heartbeat. If there are any appoints that I'd highly recommend that you go to, it would be these.
Gestational Diabetes Test Appointment - Momma bear will be taking a test to determine if she has Gestational Diabetes. She gets to drink some very sweet concoction then have her blood drawn. I'd say pass on this one.
Other Appointments - As the pregnancy progresses her doctor will be able to tell if everything is going as it should. At any point if they feel the need to monitor closely certain aspects of the baby's health or development, this is when things will likely get very emotional for mom. I'd suggest going to as many of these as you can until it is determined that things are back to normal. If at any point things are not smooth sailing, then you will want to support her as much as you possibly can.
There is a great deal of things that need to be taken care of before the baby is born. The amount of baby devices, trinkets, gadgets, and other miscellaneous crap that is out there for babies is incredible. It will be overwhelming and stressful, just take each day at a time. You will need to get an enormous amount of stuff to care for it. Many things will be a true need, and many things will be a luxury. Items that are needed include a carseat, stroller, bottles, clothes, pajamas, swaddling blankets, burp cloths, and the list goes on forever. Some of these things are completely necessary and some of them are not. Trying to determine which is which is daunting. We live in a consumer driven society and in the world of kids, this is still very true
In my experiences the ladies will take care of most of the shopping needs. For us guys, usually this is a relief. If you enjoy shopping, then maybe you will want to be part of this endeavor. I think most guys, like myself, will want to be part of some of the major items. I'm referring to furniture for their room, carseats, strollers, high chairs, etc. The things that you will be mutually using every single day.
What are the "man projects" you ask? these are the things that require more than just buying something. I'm talking about assembling something, painting, unboxing, etc. The ladies are certainly capable of doing these tasks, and they may want to! However, don't be surprised if these things end up on your "honey do" list. I'd suggest that if you want a happy partner, that you comply with her requests and not complain. She may be hormonal and your not going to want to give her something to get upset about!
Painting the baby's room.
Hanging shelves or other decorations in the bedroom.
Assembling the crib, changing table, rocking chair or other furniture.
unboxing and possibly assembling bouncy seats, pack and plays or other places where the baby may sit or sleep.
installing the carseats.
I think that the single most important thing to do in preparing for baby is to ensure that the room and all of the essential things that will be used immediately are ready to go by the start of the third trimester (week 28).
Why the start of the third trimester? Once you hit the third trimester, it's go time! At any point your baby could be born. The hope is that baby stays in momma for as long as possible, however two of my three girls were born pre-maturely. My first was born 3 weeks early and my third was born 2 months early! When my first was born, I wasn't ready because I thought I had three more weeks to get things done. What did that translate into? Me going home and finishing all the last minute prep alone while my wife was in the hospital. That's not something you will want to have to deal with, trust me! These last minute, final preparation items may or may not be apparent to you. Let's take a look at what I would recommend.
You will want to unbox and wash the baby bottles. If your significant other plans on breast feeding, then I would still suggest you open and wash them. The baby may not take very well to breast feeding or there may be other reasons that you may need them ready. Some parents use a combination of breast milk and formula. Whatever method you think you will use, have the bottles washed and ready.
You will also want to have the baby's pajamas, burp cloths, swaddle blankets, etc. washed and ready to go. You will use these often!
Pack a bag both for you and for your significant other to take to the hospital. You may want to consider purchasing travel sized toiletries and other disposable items so that the bag can simply be picked up and taken when needed without needing to think about it.
When the time comes, you want to be as ready as you can be. Good Luck!