The birth of child is a life-changing event for both the mother and the father, and although it’s the mother that carries and delivers the baby, the father has an equally important role to fill. By preparing for the experience together and by keeping the lines of communication open, both parents can lay a strong foundation for raising a healthy and happy child. Although the journey towards successful parenting requires a measure of sacrifice, a deep commitment and a shift in priorities, the positive results are well worth the effort.
When it comes to preparation, knowledge is the key to success. A father who understands the birthing process will be best-equipped to help the mother through the experience. Fathers can stay informed by reading up on pregnancy and the birthing process. Accompanying the expectant mother to prenatal medical appointments will offer learning opportunities as well. Ultrasounds, dating scans and Doppler heartbeat tests will help the father share in the experience of the growing baby and will help the dad-to-be acclimate to the upcoming change in the family.
As a mother’s delivery date draws near, it’s not uncommon for the expectant father to feel a bit sidelined. While many aspects of the expectant father’s life remain routine, the mother is carrying around an ever-present reminder of the approaching change in the family. Both parents need to make concerted efforts to remain emotionally connected. Simply communicating feelings, whether positive or negative, can go a long way towards reassuring each other that the relationship is still strong and meaningful.
The Big Day
No matter how sympathetic a man may be, it’s impossible for a man to understand what women experience when they go into labor. An expectant father may feel helpless and exasperated when his best efforts to support the mother are ignored or criticized. While it can be a frustrating situation for the father, it’s also an important early lesson in parenthood. The challenge of being a good father is knowing when to relinquish self-interest for the well-being of the family. Remaining calm and supportive in the eye of the storm is the best strategy for a happy delivery day.
Men are conditioned from an early age to view childbirth as a purely female function. Becoming an involved father not only requires overcoming preconceived notions about parental roles but requires being willing to overcome social conventions as well. While the role of an involved father may not feel natural at first, it’s important that the father strive to remain involved. Studies have shown that early involvement leads to a deeper connection over the long term.
Many businesses now offer paternity leave for their employees. Taking time off from work during the time period immediately following the birth of the child not only helps the father bond with the child but gives the mother needed relief as well.
Worries about how the relationship between the mother and father will change after the birth of the baby is a very real issue, one that should be acknowledged honestly. A mother may become so focused on the new baby that the marital relationship suffers for a time. A degree of patience is usually sufficient to resolve this problem. Making future arrangements to spend time together away from the new baby can help both parents remain connected during the first crucial weeks and months of a child’s life.
Adjusting to the idea of being responsible for the well-being of a child takes time. A father may feel like he is being pressured to sacrifice his personal freedom and that his life is becoming narrower in scope. Most men, however, discover that having a child expands their view of the world. Personal goals become family goals. A new father may be pleasantly surprised to discover that life after the birth of a child can be richer and more satisfying than ever.