Top 10 Things Dad Can Prepare and Do for a New Baby
Written by Eric Smith
Hey Team! My name is Eric Smith, I’m married to Kaci, father to Shepard (and soon to be baby girl Smith) and newly a contributor to this great community. You can learn more about our family here if you want. I want to start by saying I appreciate everyone who engages with this site/blog/company. This community is strong and powerful and I’m a firm believer that the most valuable thing on earth is the impact we can have on one another. This form of social currency is the most meaningful thing there is and sharing and helping others through big moments or tough times is the most valuable thing we can do. So for those of you who participate, share, engage and put others first through this massively important focus of motherhood/fatherhood/parenting – I truly and sincerely thank you! It motivates me, and it drives my wife! Okay onto blowing your minds through the written word.
This post is largely written for partners out there who are supporting expecting mothers or new moms. Most of this may seem like common sense, but important to be shared nonetheless. When approaching the due date of your baby there are a lot of things you can do to help your partner prepare and things you can do to make life less stressful for everyone.
The reality is, Mom has to do everything. As much as we can help and support, a majority of the responsibility, stress, and work naturally falls on mom (even if we are as helpful as possible). That said, you are a MAJOR support and you should prepare for this. There’s obviously a very long list of things you can do to assist, but I tried to sum up my top recommendations for right before your baby comes and my top recommendations for when your baby gets here. Now I’ll warn you again, some of this is super obvious, but I don’t know where most guys are at with what’s obvious and what’s helpful. If you pick up one thing, it’s a win, so here we go.
Top Things You Can Do Before The Baby Gets Here
- Set up for the baby – Get everything set up prior to the baby coming home. I know this is super obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people put off little projects. Get the baby room set up, make sure you’ve got the blackout shades, get your room set up if you’re planning to have a bassinet in your room, have the changing station stocked and ready. All of these things give you one less thing to worry about after the baby gets here. There’s going to be so much going on that having everything already set up and ready to use will make you a hero.
- Pack the go bags – You have no idea when your baby is going to decide the time is right to come, so you should plan like it’s going to happen any moment from probably 4 weeks out. This means getting your hospital bag ready to go and asking your partner if they need your help with theirs. Nothing is worse than it being go time and you are running around frantically throwing stuff in a bag. Just plan ahead, it will give you peace of mind and make you feel more ready for what’s coming. I am a classic over packer, but I would recommend a change of clothes for 2-3 days, toiletries, iPad/book. It’s pretty basic stuff but most of the time in the hospital you’ll be helping your partner, obsessing over your baby, and sleeping. The iPad is great for shows or movies when the baby is sleeping because it’s really just you and your partner in a small room for a few days.
- Plan your route – I’m someone who likes to have a plan and mapping a route and alternative route. With our first child, Kaci labored at home as long as she could and when it was time to go to the hospital, it was urgent. I had my route planned out and we even practiced it – but as we were driving on the actual day and I was trying to keep both her and I calm, we ended up off the original path. It was fine because there were like 7 routes from our house to the hospital that all take the same amount of time, but it’s important to plan ahead, have your plan, and have a backup route just in case.
- Prep yourself for the delivery room – As we know, your partner is going to be doing all the work here. But you need to be prepared for what she’s going to experience and how you can best be supportive. It will go a long way if you understand the stages of labor and a few tips on how to make her more comfortable during contractions. I personally did a bit of googling to try and understand some positions or how I could apply pressure to her hips/back and things I could do during contractions to help make Kaci more comfortable. I think I ended up only recommending one thing the whole time we were in the delivery room, but Kaci said that it meant a lot that I did the homework to try and support. It will always go a long way if you show you’re thinking about and doing things to stay actively involved. Don’t be the dude sitting on the couch while your baby mama is in pain. Be an active participant.
- Build her up – Encourage her in the days leading up. This can come in many ways. I’m a big believer that positive words create positive vibes. Let your partner know how great they are doing with the pregnancy, thank them for putting in nine long months to grow your baby, leave notes for her on the mirror, make a special trip to Starbucks/ice cream store/[insert her favorite thing here] without her having to ask. It’s a stressful time for her, and there’s naturally going to be some anxiety. Be extra sweet and build her up!
Top Things You Can Do When You First Get Home
- Literally Anything and Everything – Mom’s job is to recover and feed. Writing it out, it may not sound like a lot but trust me those two things will take over her life. She has all the pressure of nourishing the baby and keeping him or her alive, so literally everything else is on you. It’s so important to remember that apart from being the food provider for your child (if she chooses to breastfeed), your partner will have to recover from the birth, and she’ll be more tired than she’s ever been because she’s up every 2-3 hours feeding. So you should honestly be thinking about all the things you can do to keep everything else in the household running.
- Diaper changes – Change all the diapers. I honestly think I changed 95% of every diaper for the first 3 months. I didn’t want to put that burden on Kaci (she had done/was doing enough) and I didn’t trust my mother in law (who was helping us out) securing it enough to prevent blowouts – sorry MIL! Change the diapers. It’s a simple thing, but it’s a super helpful one!
- Meals & Dishes – This one is on you as well. There are a few things to help with this. If you’re like me and don’t cook, outsource it. Remember that when you have a baby, people want to help. Everyone asks if they can do anything and oftentimes we don’t know what to tell them, so we say “we’re good.” I’m telling you right now, just say yes, people won’t think that’s weird and would love to bring a meal, so just ask. You’re also in charge of writing the thank yous to those people. If it makes you too uncomfortable to ask for help, there are other options. Look into meal plans like Home Chef, Freshly, Blue Apron, etc. and select two weeks worth of pre-made frozen meals for home delivery. It’s maybe pricier than the grocery store would be, but the ease is well worth the extra cost. If you don’t want to do the dishes, invest in paper plates and plasticware and you’re good to go! If you don’t want to use paper/plastic, do the dishes and do not leave them for your partner.
- Wake up with Mom for feedings – I think this is a big one that your partner will appreciate more than you’ll know. It’s really hard waking up at all hours to feed for 30-60 minutes at a time. It’s also very hard to stay awake and after a few days of this, it can really start to impact your mind. I would recommend (at the beginning) to wake up every time she does and stay awake with her during feedings. I did this the first two weeks because I was on paternity leave, and then only woke up for certain feedings in the night once I went back to work. It makes her feel less alone and helps her stay awake while feeding. This may not be possible when work starts back up because you need sleep to function at a high enough level, but if you’re not working, sacrifice sleep and help Mom through those early feedings for the first week or two. After that, if you’ve graduated to a bottle, volunteer for a night feed and allow your partner to sleep a longer stretch at nights.
- Encourage/Support/Help – It can be a tough time, so it’s your job to encourage. You’re the support. The overall theme is to be there for your partner in every possible way. Remember that life has changed drastically and they had a major thing happen and they will need to recover and at the same time they are thrust into very little sleep, possibly breastfeeding, and hormone imbalances. Be patient, be supportive and be helpful!
Alright those are my top recommendations. Having a kid is a very exciting and fun experience and when the baby gets here, it’s truly life changing in the best way. Support your partner and be a true teammate, it’ll make a world of difference. Good luck, thanks for reading!!
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