The prospect of fatherhood can be daunting. Dads-to-be can experience a wide range of thoughts, emotions and expectations when they first find out they're going to be a dad.
For many couples, the discovery that they are expecting a baby may be the first time they've seriously discussed what it all means for them. People will react differently to the news, partly because the prospect of becoming a dad can be a massive adjustment in terms of changes in lifestyle and perceived responsibilities.
Pregnancy can place new strains on your relationship. It is a cliché, but your life is about to change forever. Talking through your feelings with your partner about imminent fatherhood can be really helpful. It’s likely that you will both feel apprehensive and excited about what lies ahead and your partner will need both your support and confirmation that this is what you really want.
Your outlook could change throughout the course of the pregnancy. A lot happens in nine months and your thoughts, feelings and fears will change too. There is a lot of information to take onboard and a lot of important decisions to be made. Your support counts from the day you discover you're going to be a dad.
Now is the perfect time to put your cards on the table about any concerns you may have about fatherhood and becoming a dad. Expectations can differ based on your own upbringing and that of your partner. Parent manuals feature pictures of happy, smiling families but, for some people, this is has not been their experience.
You may want to discuss some of the following questions with your partner:
- What are your main worries about becoming a father?
- Do you know enough about what is going to happen?
- What will your role be throughout the pregnancy and beyond?
- How involved do you want to be in caring for the baby?
- What kind of dad do you want to be?
- What expectations does your partner have of you as a dad?
- Can you cope financially?
Be honest with your partner in talking through these issues and any concerns you may have. The more honestly you speak about them, the better prepared you will be as a couple to tackle them together.
For women, change starts immediately, both physically and in terms of their lifestyle. Your partner needs to look after herself, for example, by stopping smoking, reducing or stopping her alcohol intake, and eating healthily. It can be a struggle, but it will be a lot easier (and much appreciated) if you try and do the same.
NCT's helpline offers practical and emotional support in all areas of pregnancy, birth and early parenthood: 0300 330 0700. We also offer antenatal courses which are a great way to find out more about birth, labour and life with a new baby.