What first time dads wished they'd known before the birth
Empathy in parenting

15 things first-time fathers wished they’d known before the birth

How the birth of your child is going to go, is impossible to predict.

It all happens differently, and everybody has their own story.

In the movies and on TV, birth is usually depicted as a really quick thing. The mother gets cramps and whoosh! She’s holding the baby in her arms before she even made it out the door. Let alone the hospital.

But a real first-time birth can take a while. And it can even get a little boring.

At the hospital, your midwife has many other birthers to look after and doesn’t have time to stick around for your exclusive support.

If you want additional support during the birth, I warmly recommend getting a doula.

Someone who’s there 100% just for you, your partner and your baby.

I highly recommend you also read these other articles to be better informed before the birth:

1. There’s a machine in the birthing room that measures contractions.

What first time dads wished they'd known before the birth

It notifies when a contraction is starting.

Don’t tell the missus, “Here comes a big one!” 

She’ll let you know (in no uncertain terms) if she’s having a big contraction.

2. The babies head is tapered at birth.

That’s normal so that it will fit through the birth canal.

It’ll gradually turn back to normal.

3. When the umbilical cord is cut it leaves a stump on the tummy.

This becomes the belly button.

And yes, you had that too once.

This needs to be kept clean and it will fall off on its own within a week or two.

4. Babies can be born covered in a greenish-black goo.

This is perfectly common and it just means the baby excreted meconium right before being born.

For the last few months of pregnancy, the baby begins to swallow amniotic fluid in preparation for breastfeeding and the byproduct of that is meconium.

Meconium is perfectly normal and your baby’s first poos will be greenish-black and sticky (but odourless) as the intestines clear it out after the birth.

5. Newborns can end up in intensive care for a few days for one reason or another.

It’s not unusual.

Keep asking questions until you understand what’s going on.

And remember that family members won’t appreciate a call from you that starts with, “The baby was taken to the NICU…(pause)…there was an issue with his glucose levels”.

6. Babies are hairy when they’re born.

What first time dads wished they'd known before the birth

And I don’t mean just on the head.

This fine fluff is called Lanugo hair and is designed to help them regulate their body temperature.

Lanugo hair is usually dark and very soft, like baby down, and wears off naturally as the baby grows.

7. It’s not over after the baby’s out.

Once the baby’s out, the afterbirth needs to come out too.

There’ll usually be a small pause, for mum to catch her breath.

The baby nursing during this time will create contractions in the womb. These will help push the placenta out.

8. Newborn babies can have pimple-like spots.

No, don’t pick at them, just leave them alone.

Your baby’s skin is covered in vernix, a waxy substance, which protects the baby’s skin in the amniotic fluid during pregnancy.

It’s also very moisturising and prevents baby’s skin from drying out (think of how dry your skin is after a long swim).

9. When the baby cries you can usually calm her down by feeding her milk and changing her nappy.

Don’t wait for the missus to have to ask you to change your share of nappies.

Changing nappies will create such a strong bond between you and your kid that changing nappies will become like second nature in no time.

10. Did baby smile at you?

It’s more likely due to gas, which is perfectly common in little babies.

Take it as it comes and appreciate the smile anyway.

11. The missus’ sense of humour can be a little strained during the first few weeks.

This, if anything, is extremely normal.

Don’t poke the bear if you can help it.

12. Don’t give up on sleep and try to take care of EVERYTHING.

What first time dads wished they'd known before the birth

Remember that your life just changed for the next 18 years, not just this one week.

It’s okay to just let some things go undone for now.

Just enjoy taking it easy for while.

And remind your missus to do the same.

If you’re lucky a kind family member will come for a visit and surprise you by cooking dinner.

13. Sometimes the baby just wants to be close to you.

Pick up the little’un and rock him for a bit.

14. Treat your baby like a person even if she’s about as interactive as a cucumber.

She isn’t talking yet, but babies are primed to observe.

And they learn 100% of what they see, hear, taste and experience from day one.

Try it for yourself: little babies will mimic things that they see you do repeatedly — try making different expressions and sounds, blinking your eyes or sticking out your tongue.

15. Don’t worry if you don’t immediately feel REALLY BIG EMOTIONS for your baby.

Take your time and let it develop.

Six months down the line you’ll jump in front of a moving bus for them.

Without hesitation.

Just give it time and don’t worry about it.

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