Aww, the glory days when you get to call yourself a father and your baby is so quiet and well behaved in the womb. Enjoy this time but prepare yourself for the preparation! You are about to go through the Preg-ucation. I did my duty as a soon to be father and set through the required class for the hospital as well as three once-a-week sessions that my over-achiever wife insisted we take.
This is the Miracle of Life that you can’t giggle at with your friends in the 6th grade or avoid eye contact with all the girls afterwards. You must participate! You must play with dolls! You must learn more information about the vagina then you would ever want to know! And it is good for you. Parts of it are boring and at a certain point all the information turns into goo in your head because so much new stuff is being thrown at you. Hopefully you don’t have a teacher that discusses baby seizures like they are no big deal but slyly mentions that “they can happen anytime and you wouldn’t even know it!” Besides that the information will at some point come of some use to you and in the end it may put mom’s mind at ease for a few weeks.
Just in case you don’t go to all the classes or if you are paying too much attention to fantasy football while the teacher is talking then here is my little cheat sheet of the 5 things you should definitely prepare yourself for before labor.
1. Have a Birth Plan
Cesarean? Natural? Medicated? What type of medication? Cord clamping? Have I lost you yet?
A birth plan is your ideal view of how you and your wife want the birth to go. Give it to your doctor/hospital so they know what you want and hopefully try to accommodate. After all the classes the major thing I came out of it with was I needed to spend a little time with my wife figuring out one of these plans. As my wife was the one responsible for carrying the baby and pushing him out of her vagina I deferred to her on most decisions. Either way, figure out what y’all want to do ahead of time.
2. Be Flexible
Having a plan is great! Just don’t expect your plan to go exactly has you have laid out. Every birth is different and not very many babies follow your proposed birth plan. Our birth plan involved an old school natural birth! We were getting real… but Mathias said screw that and exited through the trap door in mommies belly high as a kite. You cannot control the birth but you can try to manage it as best you can. Sometimes things happen and you must adapt. Just be ready!
3. Practice Coaching
Coaching sports is easy. Most likely you are coaching something you have watched or played at some point in your life. Yet we will never carry and birth a child. This is not natural for you and taking the classes gives you a glimpse into how to cheer on/ motivate your wife. Find some time to practice some breathing techniques and work on training your voice to not have that, “Dear God, what is happening?” sound to it. Your wife will appreciate it, I promise.
4. Tour the Hospital
This is a great chance for you to see where the magic will happen. You can get acquainted with the setup of the room you will be in and the layout of the building. You’ll also be able to prepare for the little quirks of the hospital like how our’s has the ice machine behind a locked door. I’m still not sure what security reasons there are for requiring a badge to gain access to ice but it was nice knowing that before going in.
Take a deep breath…. now exhale. You will need to utilize this calming technique as you begin your expedition in baby accessories. You know that room with all your stuff? It is about to be taken over. If you are like me then at some point you will be sitting in the store staring at a 20 x 20 feet wall of nipples and you might start hyperventilating. You do need a bunch of stuff when you have a baby and there are so many different options for every little thing you can buy. Take a seasoned pro in with you. Make sure it is someone you know will cut to the chase and tell you how stupid buying a $400 swing is or how their baby would rather play with the box the toys come in then with the actual toy itself.
Maybe you want to learn on your own pace outside of the class setting. In the age of the internet there are plenty of options out there to get some educated opinions. Here are some the books I used to prepare myself for the big day.