Preparing For Fatherhood- From a Mom’s Point of View

Dads can start preparing for fatherhood when they find out the baby is coming. With all things parenting, slow and steady wins the race.

​*Disclaimer* This is how I recommend preparing for fatherhood from the point of view of the mother. I highly recommend that you also find some books, podcasts, blogs, or social accounts to follow for dads by dads. 

dad holding his newborn baby skin to skin giving a bottle with a burp cloth on his shoulder.

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My husband immediately took to his new role and started preparing for fatherhood when we discovered we were having a baby. Here are some of the things he did to help me through my pregnancy and birth experience. 

  • Read Books: Besides this list, grab a pregnancy book for dads to get more information about what your partner will experience during pregnancy, labor, and birth. 
  • Learn Pregnancy Terms: Your partner is probably familiar with terms like BBT, LMP, TTC, and other pregnancy acronyms. Brush up on these terms to inform you during your partner’s pregnancy conversations with your healthcare team. 
  • Go To Appointments: Make a point to get to prenatal appointments. In the last 10 weeks of pregnancy, there will be many of them. You don’t have to go to everyone, but getting to a few will allow you to understand what your partner and baby are going through, what the plan for birth is, and ask your questions. 
  • Baby Things: Make sure You have all the baby gear you need, like clothes, swaddles, diapers, diaper rash cream, etc. Have fun with your partner and make date nights from these shopping trips. 
  • Connect With Family Members, Friends, and Each Other: Spend time with those closest to you. Your social life and romantic connection will be paused after the baby comes. This is one of the hardest life changes for my husband and I to adapt to. We could no longer go out spontaneously; a plan always needed to be in place. 
  • Mental Load: Prepare to take on some of the mental load of your household. This means scheduling appointments, keeping track of bills and budgeting, planning for parental leave, etc.  
  • Classes: Knowledge is power. The more classes you take and participate in, the more prepared you will be. A lot of these classes will be offered for free through your hospital: 
    • Birthing Class 
    • Baby Care Class (Parenting Class) 
    • Breastfeeding Class 
    • Infant CPR Class 
    • Antenatal Classes (Classes after birth)
  • Cleaning and House Projects: Deep clean and finish up any household projects.  
  • Have a Will: Remember the mental load? Make sure you and your partner have a will in place if something happens to you or both of you. Identify the legal guardians for your baby should you and your partner not be able to care for them (don’t leave this up to the judicial system). Ask your guardians before listing them in the will. 
  • Carseat Duty: Buy an infant car seat, install it, and check that it is installed properly at your local fire department. Understand how the car seat works because you will likely be carrying it out of the hospital and in and out of the car for the first few days. 
  • Get Your Car Checked: Make sure your inspection, emissions, routine maintenance, tires, fluids, and all other essential maintenance is done on your vehicle. After all, this is where you will be transporting your new precious cargo. 
  • Stock Up: Stock up with a month’s worth of household essentials (toilet paper, laundry detergent, pantry food, etc.) so you don’t have to worry about running errands during those first four weeks. 
  • Diapers: Know what diapers you will use (disposable or cloth), and make sure you have the necessary supplies. 
    • Disposable Diapers: Changing table, wipes, diaper pail, day diapers, night diapers. 
    • Cloth Diapers: Covers, inserts, wipes, diaper pail, spray pal.
  • Have a First Aid Kit: Accidents happen, and babies are unpredictable (my one-week-old ripped off his umbilical cord stump 😱). Make sure you have basic first aid supplies at home. 
  • Schedule Deliveries: Use a service like Amazon subscriptions to auto-deliver diapers, wipes, nursing pads, breastmilk bags, formula, and other essentials (like pet food) that you might use consistently.
  • Prepare Food: When you get home from the hospital, the last thing you’ll want to do is cook! Make a food plan when you get home. Prep freezer meals, schedule meal delivery service, or stock up your freezer with healthy freezer options (they are limited but out there!). 
  • Consider a Co-ed Shower: Show your enthusiasm for this baby with a coed baby shower or even a dad’s only diaper raffle event. 
  • Make Sure You Have Major Gear and Equipment: A newborn doesn’t need much (your nursery might already say otherwise!). But make sure you have the essentials: 
  • Build Baby Furniture: Cribs, dressers, shelves, and gliders are heavy. Help your partner physically by taking on these building projects. 
  • Stage the Nursery: Do the heavy lifting by painting the nursery, getting the furniture in the room, and anchoring heavy pieces to the wall. 
  • Baby Proofing: Consider a few baby proofing steps, like making sure cords are hidden or out of reach, plugs are covered, and long curtains are hemmed. Your baby won’t be moving around right out of the gate, but be proactive in preventing accidents at their level. 
  • Your Support System: You will be your baby and partner’s support system (emotionally and physically). Make sure you have your support system in place to take care of your mental health and to lean on during difficult times. Whether it’s your family, friends, or online support groups, consciously identify those people and plan on asking for help when needed. 
  • Dunstan Baby Language: Did you know your newborn will use words to communicate their needs? The Dunstan Baby Langauge video will show you what signs to look for and listen to to understand when your baby is hungry, tired, gassy, or uncomfortable. Watch the free YouTube video a few times before birth, and save it to your favorites for when the baby gets here (trust me!). 
  • Hospital Bag(s): You and your partner will be in the hospital, so you should have supplies (like clothes, toiletries, entertainment, and snacks) you’ll need. Cross-check your lists to make sure you don’t forget anything. And don’t forget to put the bag in your trunk! 
  • Chores: Equal division of labor outside of parenting is essential. Decide who will be cooking, doing dishes, taking out the trash, mowing the lawn, and all the other household tasks. 
  • Understand the Fourth Trimester: The fourth trimester is a term for the first three months of your baby’s life. By the time your baby comes, your partner has spent about 280 days 24/7 with your child. For you, you will be meeting your newborn for the first time. The physical changes that your baby and partner are going through are overwhelming. Pair that with unregulated hormones, a lack of sleep, and adjusting to parenthood, and it is really difficult for everyone involved. Read about it, and remember that it is temporary and everything will settle down.
  • Childcare: Daycare centers often have waitlists of six months or longer. Research centers, do tours, and ask around your town for recommendations. 
  • Insurance Plans: Look into the process for adding your newborn to your health insurance plan. Make sure you and your partner have life insurance (either through work or a private plan). 
  • Coparenting: How will you contribute to childcare and household chores? 
  • Pick a Name: I love the Babyname app. It’s like Tinder for baby names. If you and your partner struggle with a name, this one’s for you! 
  • Up Your Social Media Dad Game: Start following great dads on social media. Role models and icons to look up to, and dads sharing the hilarious things that babies and toddlers do. 
  • Research Postpartum Recovery: Postpartum is physically and emotionally draining for your partner. If words like cramping, vulva, vagina, stitches, bleeding, and hemorrhoids make you queasy, you’re going to need to prepare a little more! 
  • Parental Leave: Talk to your employer (and your partner’s). Ensure you are all on the same page regarding the leave you will take when the baby comes. You don’t want to catch your employer or partner off guard by taking more or less time than expected. 
  • Returning to Work: Will you adjust your work schedule to be able to spend more time with your family? 
  • Plan Your Route: How are you getting to the hospital? Which hospital are you going to? What’s the fastest way there? Know some alternate routes in case of road closures or accidents. 
  • Find a Pediatrician: You must schedule well visits for your newborn as soon as one or two days after leaving the hospital. Know who you want to see and ensure they accept new patients. Let them know your baby’s due date so they can plan for the arrival of a new patient. 
  • Get a Push Present: Get a unique gift for your expecting mama. Something that shows her how important she and this baby are to you. 
  • Know the Birth Plan: Know your partner’s birth plan and your role. Are you helping with pain management? Advocating for your partner’s needs?  
  • Emergency Birth: Understand the risks and complications of pregnancy. Think about your plan in the event of an emergency.  
  • Visitors: Who will be allowed to visit the hospital? After the baby is born? Make sure you’re both on the same page and let potential visitors know the plan. 
  • Not Being Number One: Until now, you and your partner have been each other’s priority. Suddenly, your partner and baby will be each other’s number one, and you come second. This shift is difficult to deal with, and being mentally prepared for it will help make the transition easier. 
  • Postpartum Depression: Postpartum depression affects as many as 1 in 5 women. Know the warning signs and have a plan with your partner beforehand to cope. Our plan was simple: my husband would call my parents to help care for the child, and he would care for me by finding me treatment.
  • Postpartum Anxiety: Just as common but less talked about is Postpartum Anxiety. Know the signs and symptoms for you and your partner. Have a plan in place in case either of you is experiencing PPA. 
  • Postpartum Depression (for Dads): Up to 1 in 10 dads experience paternal postpartum depression. It’s okay not to feel okay, but make sure to get the help you need so you can continue to be the dad and partner you want to be. 
  • Not Being Needed: Your baby and partner are already bonded in a way that might make you feel unnecessary. Don’t worry, Dad- you are the rock for your partner and will be an equal parent as your baby adjusts to the world on the outside.  
  • Stocking Supplies: Fathers often feel helpless during the fourth trimester. Give yourself some important tasks to contribute to your partner and baby’s recovery. Stock the diaper bag, newborn care essentials, breastfeeding basket, and postpartum survival kit
  • Understand Safe Sleep: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is scary. The American Academy of Pediatrics outlines safe sleep practices to lower the risk of SIDS for your newborn. You should read this (in fact, my hospital made me watch and read and sign off on in-depth coverage of this material), but the basics are that your baby should sleep: 
    • In your room.
    • In their own bed.
    • On a flat surface.
    • With no loose blankets, toys, or positioners. 
Dad's pregnancy prep checklist.

The Bottom Line for New Fathers To Be

This list is undoubtedly overwhelming. There’s a lot of responsibility on your shoulders. Keep the lines of communication open with your partner. Research parenthood, pregnancy, birth, and infancy for yourself. Start chipping away at this list early to avoid being overwhelmed in the last weeks before your baby comes. 

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Jacqui

Author

Hi, I'm Jacqui, founder of Mommy Maker Teacher and mom of two toddlers. With a degree in education, 12+ years of experience as a K-12 teacher and curriculum developer, and courses in childhood psychology and language acquisition, I share research-backed parenting tips and advice. I provide helpful content for moms on all stages of motherhood - from trying to conceive and pregnancy to postpartum, breastfeeding, and parenting.