There may be no greater feeling for a husband than for his wife to tell him, “Honey, we are going to have a baby!” But after the slaps on the back and the congratulatory ceremonies are done, an expectant Dad can be kind of out there alone in left field. Baby showers with Pinterest crafts have been the realm of the Moms, but in recent years some trends have developed to keep Dad in the loop and feeling involved.
The Dadchelor Party can be anything from a get together barbecue to a party with everybody bringing diapers. Babies need diapers, lots of diapers. Emily Granger Arostegui from Denham Springs, says, “During showers, the guys would get together to cook and drink while the girls had their fun. For the Diaper Party, people would bring diapers, wipes and Boudreaux’s Butt Paste. My husband loved picking out things for our baby girl, but being at a shower wasn’t his thing.”
While Moms are dealing with getting ready for baby to come, Dads may have problems of their own to deal with and they could end up not knowing how to handle their feelings at this stage. Samantha Rauber, LPC, NCC, PMH-C, says, “Oftentimes during pregnancy and postpartum, so much focus and attention shifts to the baby and then to the mother, but often forgotten is the major transition that Dad is navigating as well. Dads need support too, whether they want to admit it or not. Dad/Diaper Parties given by friends are a great way of honing in on the special and vulnerable time that becoming a parent is for him also.”
Oftentimes Dads are waiting in the dugout, not sure of what they will need to be called to do next. Rauber wants them to know they can expect several changes and can be ready for them. She says, “As a woman’s body evolves to meet the needs of the developing baby, she may not be able to carry on life the way she did before being pregnant. Pregnancy comes with a plethora of hormonal, psychological, and physical changes. They can also expect positive changes that come with great reward also. Watching a woman’s belly grow with a moving baby can bring much joy and excitement into his next chapter of life.”
Dads don’t need to stay on the sideline either. Rauber has suggestions for how he can be involved by bonding with the baby in many different ways during the pregnancy, each unique to what fits for that man. “For some, it may be feeling the baby. For others, it may be attending the doctor and ultrasound appointments. Praying for the baby, participating in naming the baby, setting up the nursery, or reading/singing to the babies are further tasks that may deepen the connection to a relationship with the child before it is born. It’s up to Dad which way he wants to take on bonding with his child,” she says.
Being a Team Player
Dads may ask themselves how they can be there for their partner. Rauber adds that this is a complicated time for the Mom. She will be wanting to feel that she is seen and heard. She says, “Join with her in that experience even though it may be hard to tolerate. Prepare yourself to be a teammate in the postpartum period. She will need to rest to recover, and one of the biggest ways to support her is to encourage her to take breaks and get rest.
Finally, Dad may really feel left out once the baby is born. Even holding a baby may be uncomfortable for some. Rauber adds it is common for them to question how to bond with their baby after birth. It may take some patience, but it is very possible. She says, “It’s never too early to talk to the baby, read or sing to the baby, too. Babies also learn to self-regulate the more dad is involved in early parenting.”
Babies don’t come with a manual and being nervous about handling a baby, getting anxious when babies cry and not knowing what to do are all normal things for Dads. Rauber says, “This is a new experience and that can be met with complicated emotions. Still, change the diaper. Rock the baby. Get involved. The more you learn that you can do early soothing, the more likely you will continue to build confidence that you can do this fatherhood thing, and the whole family will benefit because of that.”
Getting the Blues
Pregnancy causes Mom’s hormones to go haywire, Rauber cautions, but Dad can also get the blues. She says, “Dads experiencing emotional difficulties after babies are born are more common than we think, so it’s very important for Dad to also seek support if he is concerned about the way he feels. Communication is the real key. Working together will make the whole experience memorable and wonderful!
Kawana Young, from Denham Springs, says, “Firstly, my husband is absolutely my best friend. We never really follow ‘trends’ or social status quo. There is literally no one else I wanted to spend that day with other than him. We love games, but we had the shower in a very nice restaurant in a party room we transformed and it was more of a formal sit down.”