As involved as my husband was (and is), Jimmy still felt a bit left out during my pregnancy. He found that most people didn’t ask him about preparing for fatherhood. Their questions were about me and the baby.
I think we need to put more focus on dads-in-waiting. To be honest, when it comes to the birth, fathers usually need to be the advocates for their wives, as women in labor can’t think straight (at least I couldn’t). And in those first few months, if the mom is breastfeeding, she’s preoccupied with feeding a child and the dad needs to take on just about everything else. So how can we prepare dads and engage them more during pregnancy and those newborn months? Here are some of my thoughts:
1. Throw co-ed showers. Many couples still go the traditional route and have women-only baby showers. I strongly discourage this. Our two showers were co-ed and I’m so glad we made that choice. It’s a choice that begins your parenting with the philosophy of “we” are having a baby, not “I,” the mother.
2. Give them books about fatherhood. Unfortunately, most birthing and parenting books are written to mothers as the audience. It’s off-putting to men. However, there are a few good books out there and we need to start giving them to men. One of them is Clyde Edgerton’s Papadaddy’s Book for New Fathers and also Emily Oster’s Expecting Better, which takes a logical, scientific view of pregnancy and birth and is the opposite of the fear-inducing What to Expect When You’re Expecting.
3. Take a child preparation class….by themselves. I think men should take a class without their wives. Maybe they should be in charge of the Infant CPR class? A class that they attend and then teach their wives what they learned.
4. Dads can babywear!
5. Dads need to take a breastfeeding class with their wives, if it’s a priority to the woman. You can’t understand how much time that baby will spend at the boob until you live it, but just believe me, it’s A LOT. Dads need to learn how to support and help their wives through breastfeeding; it lasts a lot longer than labor.
6. Co-workers of dads need to start celebrating them. I don’t hear about dads getting baby showers at work that often. This is a problem. It’s time to start recognizing men as co-parents at the workplace. Look up “dad diaper party” on Pinterest, and you’ll get some ideas, people.
I would also say it’s time to start giving men better paternity leave, but we need to actually give women paid maternity leave first!
What else would you add to this list? Moms and Dads, please chime in!