In honor of Father’s Day, we want to take some time to recognize all of the amazing dads out there who are giving it their all! While moms often get most of the credit for caring for babies during those first few months, fathers play a vital role as well that should not be overlooked.
Dads may be wired differently as providers and caregivers, but they love your precious child as much as you do and are great at finding unique, meaningful ways to help! I have been lucky to have a great teammate in this wild world of parenting and love getting to partner with families as a Moms On Call Consultant and help them figure out what their version of teamwork looks like.
If you are a new or expectant parent, I want to offer fathers some great ideas of ways they can support, encourage and love both mom and baby at each stage of the game–during pregnancy, during the delivery and throughout those early weeks and months after bringing your new baby home.
Attend prenatal appointments with mom as much as your schedule allows.
I know COVID has limited this for many expectant parents, but as things get back to normal, I would strongly encourage you to attend appointments together. This allows you both to meet the providers, have questions answered and be informed about what to expect during pregnancy and delivery. It is also fun to see and/or hear the heartbeat at each appointment, allowing your bond to start growing with your new little one!
Find a birthing class and breastfeeding class to attend (in person or online).
Most new moms are a little anxious, so going to these classes with them can help ease some of those anxieties. After the classes, talk to each other about want you both want your child’s birth to look like and how you can support her when the time comes.
Encourage and Engage!
There is no better way to show mom you care than to support and engage with her as you’re preparing for your baby’s arrival. One great preparation option is to familiarize yourself with the Moms on Call books, so that you have an idea of all of the different things that will be going on when baby comes home, such as: bathing, feeding, typical day routines and more!
Treat her like a princess!
Whether it is a late-night run to the grocery store for an ice cream craving or a nightly foot massage, she deserves to be spoiled and pampered during this time.
Be a listening ear!
Let her talk, not only about her excitement for this new adventure, but also let her express any fears, worries or anxieties she is facing.
Stand by what she wants for her birth experience and adjust accordingly.
If she wants a natural unmedicated delivery, be ready to breathe through every contraction with her and provide lots of back rubs. If she wants an epidural, support her in that decision, too. If she needs a C-Section, reassure her that she and the baby will be okay.
Get involved and be attentive.
Many dads get nervous and want to hang out “on the sidelines.” Currently, in many labor & delivery rooms you are only allowed one support person. Be present and get involved as much as possible or requested.
Step up and hold a leg.
When the time comes for her to push, jump right in and assist! As a L&D nurse, I promise that it is not nearly as bad as you imagine, and the birth process is truly amazing to witness.
The First Few Weeks:
Get up with mom during the overnight feedings.
In our household, we had a system the first couple of weeks where my husband would wake baby up and change the diaper, then I would nurse. This helped me to feel supported and not alone.
Keep mom stocked up on snacks and drinks.
Make sure she always has a full cup of water and a snack nearby. Especially if she is breastfeeding, because nursing makes you incredibly hungry!
Take over baby duty and allow mom to get a nap.
Every little bit of sleep counts those first few weeks and new moms have a hard time truly relaxing. Reassure her that you have things under control so she can fully relax and take a nap. Bonus points for folding laundry, cleaning or cooking dinner, too!
Offer to do bath and bedtime feeding.
Once breastfeeding is established (usually around 2 weeks), offer to do the bath and bedtime feeding (bottle of formula or pumped breast milk). This allows mom to have a much-needed break at the end of the day while also allowing you to bond with the new baby.
Learn and perfect the swaddle!
What better way to show support than perfecting one of the critical components of great sleep in those first few months? Not to mention the additional bonding that happens between you and baby!
As much as we may want our partner to be in tune with our every need from day one, that may not always be a reality. Keep the communication lines open and be honest with the things that you need most from your partner during this time. No one has all of the answers and every relationship is unique, but these suggestions are a way to engage and celebrate the role fathers play in the first precious moments of parenting and the years to come.
Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads out there! You are loved and appreciated!
About Katherine Bridges:
My name is Katherine Bridges, and I live in Cumming, GA. I have over 8 years of experience working as an RN in Labor & Delivery. I have been married to my husband Ethan for 9 years. We have 3 beautiful children: Carter (7), Logan (4), and Finley (2). I discovered Moms on Call when my oldest was 7 months old and not sleeping through the night. I found myself exhausted and overwhelmed as a new mom. I quickly implemented the Moms on Call schedules, and within 3 days, he was sleeping through the night! I found so much freedom and confidence using the Moms on Call methods. I used the schedules from day 1 with my next 2 babies, and they were great sleepers from the start! I decided to start Little Lambs, LLC to share this knowledge and hands on experience with other parents in hopes that they will have this same success. Life is so much more enjoyable when everyone is sleeping well!