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Many men feel like they've entered alien territory when their partner becomes pregnant, but it doesn't have to be that way. Dads have a unique contribution to offer. How can you prepare for fatherhood?

You both decided to have a baby, and you are both happily expecting. How can you, as a man, prepare for fatherhood and a new baby? The myth that pregnancy and small babies are solely a mother's domain is very persistent. But it doesn't have to be like that.

baby dad

My friend's husband plays in a band, and often comes home in the early hours of the morning. He's had an excellent relationship with his kids since before they were born, something my friend first noticed when she was pregnant with her first daughter. “I really didn't have anything to do with it,” my friend explained.

“I'd be asleep when he came home, and he'd just put his hand on my belly and have a 'conversation' with the baby. Whenever he put his hand there, she'd kick back to say hello.”

This touching story is radically different to some blogs you might read about preparing for fatherhood. One post I recently came across seriously advised dads to-be to stock up on batteries of various sizes and to buy a screwdriver set, so they could make sure the baby's “numerous battery-operated toys” would never run out of power. This sad image fits in very well with society's views on fatherhood.

So, how can a new dad begin to prepare for fatherhood? The fact that he is not the one who is carrying the baby around in his body is not really relevant. We can give you some of the old cliché tips on “taking on more household chores” because your wife just can't do it any more. That advice stands, though I'll assume that you did household chores before your partner got pregnant too.

Your role in the practical preparations for the baby is pretty crucial too. Standing on a wobbly ladder while attempting to paint the walls of the new nursery with a nine-month belly isn't a good idea. That baby bump makes the center of gravity shift, after all. Ask me how I know. If your partner is suffering from the nesting instinct and wants to do all the cool work herself, you can at least hold that ladder while she paints.

You could also, let's say, make lots of meals to feed the freezer, so that you guys will be able to warm them up after the baby gets there, and nobody has to cook from scratch or order those unhealthy take-outs.

The practical stuff is important, but it is not all that hard to figure out. There is nothing there that is unique to expectant fathers. Whatever needs to be done will be done, unless the expectant mom is on bed rest, and in that case you really do become indispensable. The emotional side of preparing for fatherhood is much more important than all this stuff everyone seems to think fathers to-be should be doing.

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