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Baby steps to becoming an awesome parent and partner

What I enjoy most about parenting is not only the joy our kids bring to our lives, but also what they teach us about life and love. I know that I love better because of them, and I believe loving others is what life is all about. Children give us a natural and rewarding opportunity to love. They change us for the better. My favorite moment each day is when I come home from work and see their smiling faces. Any trouble I faced is immediately forgotten. I love them and am so thankful for how they've impacted me.

But how should expectant fathers, especially first-time dads, prepare for fatherhood and be a supportive partner? As a proud dad to two children and family medicine provider, below are my suggestions on how to make the journey to fatherhood smooth and become a great dad. 

Supporting spouse/partner in pregnancy:

  • Listen to your partner/spouse. Pregnancy is a foreign experience for first-time moms; there are many physical and emotional changes she'll go through that she's never experienced. The biggest way you can help is to listen and be her emotional support.
  • Try and go to at least a few doctor appointments together. It's a great time for you to ask questions and learn more about the pregnancy experience and let her know you're by her side. Research shows new moms have a better overall pregnancy experience when dads are actively involved.
  • Compliment her. Most women are self-conscious with their changing physical appearance and need reminders of how beautiful they are.
  • Be prepared: Attend child birth classes, read books and articles and talk with your parents or friends who've been through it. But also remember that you'll never know everything and it's good to expect the unexpected.

Helping around time of delivery:

  • In addition to child birth classes, I think it's good to plan ahead for the delivery and pack a travel kit with toiletries, iPad, camera, books to read, etc. And, don't wait till the last minute as labor can begin sooner than you think.
  • After the delivery, have her pick out a special dinner or a special treat, and, of course, flowers always go over well – after all, she's earned it!
  • Encourage her to not have too many visitors in the hospital. The delivery can be an overwhelming experience. Having some time to rest, recover and bond with your new baby will be much appreciated. It's not selfish. Remember that family and friends will have lots of opportunity to visit in the upcoming weeks.

Helping when newborn comes home:

  • This is when helping out with chores, cooking and cleaning is really essential. Be sure to love and encourage your partner as this can be a difficult transition.
  • It's good to practice forgiveness towards your partner and yourself regularly as babies don't come with instruction manuals and you both will inevitably make mistakes. Good parenting, like everything else in life, takes practice.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for help. Grandparents are always looking for a good excuse to see the baby and help out.
  • Finally, hang tough. It's hard being a new dad when it seems the baby doesn't need you and all he or she wants is mom, but the reality is both your spouse/partner and child depend on you to be their rock and support. As your child grows, he or she will interact with you more and more and your influence will grow even larger, and parenting will become more fun.


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