Dad might not be preparing to birth a baby, but he’s gearing up for delivery in his own way.
The bump. The glow. The baby showers. The magic pants with ever-expanding waistbands for comfort. Let’s face it. When baby’s on board, mom gets the most attention. But, what about dad? He might not be wearing a whole new wardrobe, but the changes he’s going through are just as real. Here are three things most dads-to-be experience.
HE WORRIES ABOUT DELIVERY
Gone are the days when Don Draper sat in a waiting room with a scotch and cigar. Dads are now in the delivery room for physical and emotional support, and that can be intimidating. Shannon Church of Vintage Doula has provided doula services for hundreds of families throughout the Black Hills. “Many dads wonder, ‘what will I do when my wife is in pain? Will I be able to help her?’” There are a lot of resources to help ease this worry. Dads can talk with a doula, attend one of their partner’s prenatal appointments and ask the doctor questions. They can also chat with friends who have recently gone through a delivery of their own. Knowing more about what to expect will take the mystery out of the situation and ease their mind.
HE’S GETTING EMOTIONAL
When the sight of those cute little socks on the new nursery changing table make mom tear up and run for the cookie dough ice cream, we chalk it up to hormones. Even if dad’s not up to his elbows in Haagen Daz, he’s getting a little hormonal too. In fact, according to neuropsychiatrist Dr. Louann Brizendine, dads go through a hormonal change. Estrogen and progesterone nearly triple in mom while she’s pregnant, but dad’s not off the hook. “Certain pheromones sneak out of the mother’s sweat glands and cause his testosterone to decrease and his prolactin—the ‘Mr. Mom’ hormone— to increase. All of this hormonal re-jiggering stimulates his paternal instincts.”
HE WANTS TO HELP (EVEN IF HE’S NOT SURE HOW)
While delivery is the main event in the short term, dads worry about how they can support mom when they get home, especially with things like breastfeeding. Dads should consider attending breastfeeding classes with their partner so in those hours after delivery, he can help the tired new mom remember everything she learned. If you’re not planning on breastfeeding, dad can do even more to help at feeding times. Like holding the bottle while mom takes a bath (hint, hint).
Written by Sarah Folsland
ADVICE FROM DADS WHO HAVE BEEN THERE:
“Keep your tank full. We had to stop for gas on the way to the hospital!” Bert, dad of two.
“Do what your wife says. What eased her pain one minute didn’t work the next.” Brad, dad of three.
“Ask for help. Our nurses helped us figure out how to handle each situation as it came up.” Mark, dad of two.
“Eat. We had a long labor, I almost passed out from hunger when it was all over.” Ben, dad of two.
Sarah Folsland is a professional diaper changer, lullaby singer, hug/kiss/tickle/bath giver, mac-and-cheese maker, a wife to Ben and a mother of two girls—June and Annie.