Those first few moments when you discover that you are going to be a parent can be a wonderful thing, with most people overjoyed and excited for what will come. What also happens is the realisation that your life as you know it will change forever. This part can be very daunting, as you are now in charge of not just yourself, but a tiny and small human, who will need help 24/7. This can cause stress, apprehension, and fear, and dads suffer from prenatal-related stress much like mums.
Parenthood is a monumental changing point in any person’s life, so making sure that your are emotionally prepared for it is vital! By preparing mentally it can help reduce the risks of mental health issues related to pregnancy from occurring later on, so it is an important step to take.
Build a good support network
‘If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to support that child’s parent.’Ann Douglas
One way to emotionally prepare for parenthood is to establish a good support network of people in the local area. Whether this is family who can help step in, or other parents who you have met, these people will be vital in helping you to emotionally prepare. The Dad Community is one such group that has helped thousands of Dads connect and bond over shared experiences. Its a really good place for all expectant dad’s to start bonding with other parents who have gone through the same emotions that you have as well.
Keep it real
While Instagram and Facebook can sometimes create the illusion of a perfect pregnancy and parenthood, this is often an illusion. Its really important if you want to emotionally prepare for pregnancy that you let go of an idealised pregnancy and birth, and take your time day by day not comparing yourself to anyone online. While there are many Instagram accounts that show the realities of parenting, you can stumble down a rabbit hole of glamorous and glowing parents who have achieved over 6 hours of solid sleep adding to your stress.
Talk about parental roles
This is one that needs to be discussed before the birth of a child, as very often parents have different views of what their partner will be responsible for after the birth of a child. In her book ‘Preparing for Parenting’, Stephanie Dueger discusses how most parents plan everything, apart from how their traditional role sharing will change after the birth of a new child. As she says,
“Communication is the area that tends to require the most attention in a relationship, and when neglected, can cause some of the greatest challenges between couples.’
It is important then if you want to emotionally prepare for parenthood that these are discussed! Otherwise, your baby will come, and the housework will collapse around you, leaving you and your partner exhausted and stressed. The year following the birth of a child is one of the most stressful times that you and your partner will go through. By preparing for these hardships with your loved one beforehand, then these issues will be better dealt with when your little one comes.
Ask for help when you need it, but know when to turn it down
Very often, happy grandparents will come and offer to help with the baby, days after you have given birth, and a steady stream of well-wishers will be in and out of your living room! This can sometimes be too much for new parents, and the time that you actually need support can be much later down the line! If you want your mother or mother-in-law to stay, you have to make sure that they can make it 100% about you, your partner, and the baby. If you feel that having a relative to stay will detract from you emotionally bonding with your new baby, then be upfront about it; the first few weeks are special and don’t need to be spent entertaining unwanted house guests if you don’t want them!