By: Breannia Stillwell

You have just found out your partner is pregnant. You may be in shock, excited, or nervous. It is normal to have mixed feelings, for fatherhood is a life-changing experience. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for your new journey.

Research can come in handy when preparing for a baby. You may not be the one carrying the baby, but it is vital that you know the changes your partner may experience. There are a plethora of books written for expectant fathers. There are also online groups you can sign up for that will provide extra support and information regarding pregnancy and fatherhood. Understanding what your partner is experiencing can help you better support them as they carry your child. 

Before your baby arrives, you should try to quit bad habits. For example, if you are a smoker, make an effort to stop or limit the amount you smoke. Exposing smoke to pregnant women has been proven to increase the risk of congenital heart defects in newborns. Be sure to maintain a regular diet. Eating well will help fuel your long days and nights of parenthood. 

Be sure to discuss parenting with your partner. Find out what kind of parents you plan to be. Do you both agree with breastfeeding, or will you use formula milk? Will both of you be working? What are your plans for childcare? Find out what works best for the both of you and what will be most beneficial to your child. 

Parental appointments are a great way to provide support for your partner and show her that you are all in. At the appointments, you have the opportunity to ask questions, find out what your partner is experiencing, and learn about your child’s development. 

At Options Now, we offer an Earn While You Learn (EWYL) parenting program that allows parents to earn about $500 worth of items for their baby. Parents must attend parenting classes once a month to earn items. At the 6th session, parents will be gifted a convertible car seat for their child. This program is a great way to help both parents prepare for parenthood. 

It will also be helpful to find fellow dads to add to your friend group. Having someone who has already experienced parenthood challenges gives you an outlet and a place to ask questions, vent, or talk about the experience of becoming a dad.

Take some of the stress off of your partner and share responsibilities. Your partner may be experiencing a lot due to the pregnancy; therefore, take the initiative to take on some of her tasks. For example, after the baby is born, you can switch out changing diapers, giving baths, feeding, or even household chores. Both you and your partner must be given breaks.