Tips for new dads – how to care for your baby, and yourself

What to expect when she’s expecting. I read The Expectant Dad’s Survival Guide to find out everything prospective Dads need to know about fatherhood. Here's the lowdown...

By Margaret Gray

Tips for new dads

The first trimester:

What should you cook?

It’s early days, but your partner is already at a heightened risk of infection from certain foods. Kemp advises you to “make sure that all meat is cooked thoroughly and is piping hot before eating it.” Remember to wash fruit, vegetables, and salad, and to stay away from pâté or soft cheeses, which can carry infections that cause miscarriages.

What tests do you need?

Fathers need to have certain tests done before the birth as well. Speak to your doctor about tests for sickle-cell anaemia, thalassemia, as well as a blood-group identifying test.

The second trimester:

Accompany her to scans where possible

“Your partner may have to go through more tests and pre-checks than the Space Shuttle.” Most of these are routine, and a little dull, but you should try and attend them if you can. Going to scans together can be an important part of the bonding experience.

Why should I talk to the bump?

This feels as weird as it looks, but there is actually a lot of science behind it. By the 16th week of pregnancy, your baby’s ears are fully formed, and from the 24th week onwards, they are constantly listening. This is why Kemp advises you to “keep the swearing down and turn the iPod up.”

If you are going to move, do it now

Whether you are doing it for more space or to be closer to a good school, move as soon as possible. “Your partner will be able to do more and cope with the whole thing a little easier and you’ll have more energy than you will if she’s at 38 weeks and tossing and turning all night.”

Decorate the nursery

Many men may be wondering why they should spend time, money, and energy decorating a room for an infant. Babies aren’t generally too concerned with the décor of their rooms, after all. Although as Kemp points out, “it won’t just be your baby who spends time in here. You and your missus will eventually set up camp in here to feed, comfort, and change your baby.”

Talk about paternity leave

Kemp says “you need to tell the firm that you’re taking paternity leave by the end of the 15th week before the baby is due. To get the Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) you need to give your boss 28 days notice as well as notice in writing stating: when the baby is due; whether you’re taking one week or two off; when you want the leave to start.”

The third trimester:

Get a man bag

Man bags aren’t just for European models – they’re for Dads, too. “The more pregnant your partner becomes the less she’ll want to carry stuff when you’re out together... you’ll need to help out carrying stuff after the birth, too – nappies, wipes, bottles, the burden of debt and responsibility.” It’s best to invest in a man bag now rather than carry around your partner’s floral pink Gucci later.

Attend a male antenatal birth class

These sessions are usually very practical, teaching you how to be the best birthing partner possible. They are also great places to meet fellow Dads going through the same things as you.

Make plans for the EDD 

Don’t freak out – EDD is just a fancy acronym for the expected due date. It may sound strange to make plans for the day your baby is supposed to be born, but “so few babies arrive on the specified date that you’re better off arranging to have a couple of friends round that night to help get over the anti-climax.”

Pack an overnight bag

You probably already know exactly what mum needs to bring, but odds are you’ll be there a while too, so make sure you’re prepared. Kemp advises that you bring:

·      Cash – for parking, vending machines, buying things you’ve forgotten

·      Snacks – bring your own so you don’t have to steal any from your labouring partner

·      Toothbrush, deodorant, change of t-shirt – like I said, you’ll be there a while

After the baby is born:

Crowd control

Everyone wants to see the baby, but constantly having guests round can bring on a lot of anxiety – they bring germs, noise, and expect you to be awake the entire time. Kemp suggests you “create a code word that you and your partner can use during visits”. When your partner begins to feel tired and wants guests to leave, she can just use the code word and you’ll start scooping up the tea and biscuits.

Get out of the house at least once a week

This is the best way to fight the baby blues and spend some quality time together as a family. Leave the messy house behind, get some light exercise, and enjoy the fresh air.

Rob Kemp’s The Expectant Dad’s Survival Guide gives more detailed advice on anything and everything you need to know as a Dad-to-be.

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