If you’re here, it’s because you’re about to become a father. First, allow us to congratulate you! You’re about to embark on a life-long adventure which will be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.
With that said, fatherhood isn’t easy. Along with your partner, you’re going to be in charge of nurturing, raising, and protecting your child. The thought of this responsibility can be scary and there will certainly be a lot of sacrifices you’ll need to make, however, with the right information and a little bit of time, you’ll learn to be a great parent.
We’ve compiled information from multiple parenting books, online resources, and our own experiences to share with you to help make your transition into fatherhood as smooth as can be.
There’s a lot of information on this page. To make things easier, you can click on the navigational links below to skips to specific sections:
Common Fears and Concerns | First Trimester | Second Trimester | Third Trimester | Finding the Right Doctor | Preparing Your Home |Planning for the Delivery | Delivery Day | Bringing Baby Home | Suggested Additional Reading | Related Blogs and Articles
Common Fears and Concerns
Simply put, becoming a parent is scary. Your entire life up until this point has been solely focused on you – your education, your entertainment, your career, etc.
Sure, some of that time has been prioritized by your relationship with your significant other, but no matter how much time and effort you put into your partner, he or she is a completely independent adult who can take care of themselves if you’re not around.
The same cannot be said about a baby. For much of their adolescent life, you’re going to have to provide them with support and guidance – physical, financial, mental, and spiritual. If you thought having a child would be all fun and games, think again.
Truthfully, many dads-to-be come to this realization shortly after their discover their partner is pregnant. After nine short months, your life is going to turn upside down and your focus will have to change from yourself to your baby.
With that in mind, it’s not hard to understand why fathers have so many fears and concerns revolving around being a parent. Here are some of the most common questions new fathers have:
- Will I be a good parent?
- Will I love the baby?
- Will I know how to raise a child?
- Do I really want to go through with this?
- Does fatherhood mean I can’t have fun anymore?
- Do I have enough money to afford a family?
- Will I break the baby?
- What if the baby isn’t healthy or has special needs?
If you’ve ever asked yourself one or more of these questions (or expressed any other fears or concerns), you’re not alone and it’s completely normal.
Our hope is, that when you finish reading through our website, you’ll not only feel more comfortable with becoming a parent, but that you’ll be a rock star at it too! If you don’t find the information you’re looking for or you still have questions, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll assist you however we can.
The First Trimester
The first three months of pregnancy are pretty exciting … if you’re an embryo. In a very short ninety days, your baby is going to transform from a single cell into something very closely resembling a baby.
Mom may begin to go through some physical and mental changes, too, so as the father of this soon-to-be baby, it’s important to understand exactly what’s going on inside the womb and inside your partner so you can assist her as best as possible.
First, let’s break down what’s happening with baby week by week.
Ok, so the first two weeks of pregnancy are a bit of a cheat … because your partner isn’t actually pregnant yet. The beginning of pregnancy is very hard to determine precisely, so in order to estimate a due date as accurately as possible, the standard 40-week pregnancy timer starts on the first day of your partner’s last period.
Think of week two as the pregame warmups for pregnancy – the game is about to begin, but before her team goes out on the court she’s making sure everyone is stretched, hydrated, and ready for tip-off.
Okay, in case your partner doesn’t appreciate sports analogies, here’s what’s really going on inside her body to get ready for making that baby.
- The wall of her uterus is beginning to thicken. This is where the egg will implant once it’s fertilized.
- One of her ovarian follicles will become dominant, producing the egg which will travel down her fallopian tubes to meet your sperm.
Congratulations! After your sperm as successfully fertilized your partner’s egg, you’ve officially conceived your child and week three marks the start of your journey into fatherhood.
It only takes a couple of hours after the egg becomes fertilized for it to begin dividing again and again into the first cells of your baby-to-be. After a few days, your child has grown into a microscopic ball of cells.
That ball of cells begins its journey back up the fallopian tubes to the uterus where it will implant and continue to grow over the next 8 1/2 months or so into your child.
By week four, the small ball of cells has made its way up the fallopian tubes and implanted itself in the uterine wall. At this point, the embryo begins to go through some pretty miraculous changes.
First, the cells begin splitting into two groups, one of which will grow to become to your child and the other will grow around the baby as the placenta, an organ which delivers nourishment to the growing baby.
By the end of this week, your baby will be about the size of a poppy seed. But don’t underestimate this little human-to-be. The embryo now has three layers which will soon develop into important parts of your child’s body. The first later will become the digestive system, liver, and lungs. The second later will become the heart, sex organs, bones, kidneys, and muscles. Finally, the third layer will become the nervous system, hair, skin, and eyes.
The Second Trimester
The Third Trimester
Finding the Right Doctor
Preparing Your Home
Planning for the Delivery
Guys get a bad rap for being inarticulate when it comes to parenting. Thanks to traditional gender roles and stereotyping, we’re often viewed as a breadwinner who spends all our free time and thoughts on work and are nothing more than bumbling idiots when it comes to anything domesticated.
This is especially true when it comes to parenting. One of the easiest ways for you and your partner to break free from this mentality is to get involved in the decision making right away.
It goes without saying, when it’s time for baby to be born, your partner is going to be more preoccupied with pushing a tiny human out than having to explain to the doctor, nurses, and midwives what her birthing plan is.
Your nerves and adrenaline are going to be pumping like crazy, too, but it’s your job to keep your head on a swivel long enough to make sure your partner gets to the hospital, checked in, and has everything she needs to make the birth go as smooth as possible.
Developing a Birth Plan
Throughout the nine months of pregnancy, you and your partner are going to discuss every aspect of delivery; you’ll interview doctors, decide whether or not she wants an epidural, who else will be in the room, etc.
As mentioned previously, your mind is going to be in overdrive when your partner finally goes into labor. Will you remember everything you discussed? Chances are, you probably won’t need to remember everything, but if there are complications, will you recall what she wanted?
To alleviate birth day amnesia, many expecting parents develop a birth plan – a written document which outlines what you and your partner expect during labor and delivery. Many hospitals and birthing centers offer birthing plan forms to help you, but if you’re looking to make your own, here are some things it should contain:
- Does your partner have, or did she develop, and medical issues which may affect the pregnancy or birth?
- What do you want to do if your normal doctor isn’t available during labor?
- What kind of birth are you planning? (natural, water, etc.)
- Besides yourselves, will anyone else be in the room during delivery?
- Does your partner want to stand up, lie down, or walk around during labor?
- What are your thoughts on inducing labor?
- Does your partner want to have any pain medications (if so, which?)
- How do you feel about forceps or vacuum assistance during delivery?
- Do you want to cut the umbilical cord or have the medical professionals do it?
- What do you need to do if your partner needs a C-section?
- Does your partner want to breastfeed?
- Will you or the medical staff give the baby his first bath?
- If you’re having a boy, do you want him circumcised?
These are just a few of the things to consider when writing up your birthing plan. It’s also extremely important to understand that this is just a plan and depending on the circumstances of the birth, you may or may not be able to follow it.
While a lot of emphasis will be put on planning for what happens inside the hospital and after you return home with baby, don’t forget to plan for the trip to and from the hospital. It doesn’t take a lot of work, but it can be easily overshadowed.
If you plan on driving your partner to the hospital:
- Remember to keep enough gas in your tank – you never know when baby will decide to come.
- Use a reliable vehicle. Nothing will create more panic than if your car won’t start or breaks down on the way to the hospital.
- Take some practice trips to and from the hospital or birthing center to make sure you know the way.
- Understand what traffic is like on your route during the high and low congestion times.
- Sometime during the third trimester, install your baby’s car seat and keep your hospital go-bag packed in the car. Hospital Go-Bag Checklist
- Have a back-up driver lined up, like a neighbor or family member who lives nearby, just in case your partner goes into labor while you’re stuck in traffic or too far away.
If you’re unable to drive your partner to the hospital, there are alternatives:
- Call a taxi
If you need to take a cab or other ride sharing service, it’s important to call ahead and see how long it typically would take a driver to get to your home. Ask what the fare would be and whether or not the driver accepts credit cards. Keep the taxi company’s phone number and enough cash to cover the fare somewhere you can access it quickly. If you’re taking the cab home from the hospital, make sure you pack your car seat.
- Have a friend drive
If a friend or relative is the best option for you and your partner to travel, make sure they’re responsible, a safe driver, live nearby, will pick up their phone when called, and understands you may need to go in the middle of the night.
- Public transportation
If you need to take public transportation to the hospital, make sure you have a good understanding of its schedule, routes, and how reliable it is. Keeping exact change readily available for the fare is also important.
- Take an Ambulance
Taking an ambulance is also an option, but will add a significant amount to your final bill. This is the best option if your partner is experiencing complications with labor or it’s unsafe to take another mode of transportation. Call 911 to get an ambulance.
Recognizing the Signs of Labor
Taking Care of the Paperwork
Bringing Baby Home
Suggested Additional Reading
If you want some more in depth reading, check out these books, they’re full of great information to help you get prepared for baby!
- The Expectant Father: The Ultimate Guide for Dads-to-Be
- The Reluctant Father
- Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood
- From Dude to Dad: The Diaper Dude Guide to Pregnancy
- Dude! You’re Gonna Be a Dad!
- Pregnancy for Dads (Idiot’s Guide)