Being a dad is one of the most important and rewarding roles you can have in life. You can feel happy and excited, but it can be daunting – we’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks to help you prepare for fatherhood. It’s also normal to feel overwhelmed or unsure about what your role is as the father. Maybe you know the kind of dad you want to be or don’t want to be from memories of your own childhood.

It can help to know there is no one right way to be a dad. And it’s never too late to become the kind of dad you want to be.

This is a good time to consider:

  • What was positive about how you were raised?
  • What values are important to you, e.g. kindness, respect, sharing?
  • How will you balance work and family?
  • Are you taking care of yourself as well as preparing to take care of your baby?

During Pregnancy

Being an active participant in pregnancy is beneficial for you, your partner and baby.
You could participate by:

  • Touring the local hospitals and deciding on the care your partner and you would like to receive
  • Following your baby’s foetal growth week-by-week
  • Attending ultrasound appointments and antenatal classes
  • Feeling for kicks on your partner’s tummy
  • Talking to your baby in the womb
  • Ensuring your partner feels comfortable and relaxed throughout the pregnancy

Start Early

While both parents can provide loving care for their child, dads have an important role in their child’s development.
When dads are hands-on with their new baby and respond warmly and gently to their needs, it has a positive effect on baby’s development. The way dad sounds, talks, feels and plays is different to mum.
When baby adapts to these differences it helps them learn, build trust and develop social skills.

Here are a few things new dads can do:

  • Be involved in soothing baby, bathing, feeding and changing nappies from the start
  • Support your partner with breastfeeding
  • Don’t worry if you feel unsure at first; all parents gain confidence with practise
  • Have skin-to-skin time with baby. It helps them feel safe and builds your bond
  • Look into baby’s eyes, smile, talk gently and copy sounds back to them

Work as a Team

Work out your parenting plan with your partner right from the start, even if you don’t live together. Share your ideas and listen to hers. You don’t have to parent in the same way but it is important not to undermine each other. Talk about how you will share the load and what each of you will do. Each partner needs to feel that things are fair and their other responsibilities are taken into account.

You could discuss:

  • Baby duties: getting up at night, bathing, feeding, bedtime routines
  • Household chores: cleaning, shopping, washing, cooking, running errands
  • Time off: what will happen when children are sick or plans have to change. Find out what your work offers in terms of parenting leave for fathers

There is no rulebook when it comes to becoming a father, but hopefully these tips and tricks will help you prepare for fatherhood. Trust your instincts, communicate with your partner and enjoy this special time as a new family.

STORY Deanna Ward, Maternity Unit Manager, Cairns Private Hospital