I will be the first to tell you that I didn't actually know that much about having a baby before I had a baby. I knew about babies, sure, but there were a lot of parenting specifics I was completely clueless about before my partner and I found out our daughter was arriving by adoption. That doesn't mean women, and men, can't be a little more prepared than my partner and I were before becoming parents. That's why I'm sharing this handy list of things every grown-ass man should know before having a baby. Believe me, everyone involved will be grateful later.
Whenever I try to explain why my partner and I were utterly unprepared for our daughter (at least in terms of stuff, because our hearts sure were ready), I feel a bit sheepish. The truth is that infertility and adoption journeys can make you really wary of more disappointment, and the fear of that disappointment meant I didn't want to pour the rest of my heart into learning about being a parent before I knew, for sure, I was actually going to be one.
My family's story is fairly unusual, and most people who are preparing for a baby to arrive can actually allow themselves the freedom to do so, without fear. But there's a common fear of the unknown that can take hold, regardless of how excited you are about the prospect of parenthood, and that fear can sometimes prevent you from being as prepared and knowledgeable as you could be. Believe me, not having a single baby item or any knowledge about what to do in those first weeks really isn't preferable.
Before any grown-ass man has a baby, here's where he should start:
Know The Basic Mechanics Of Childbirth...
As the male, non-pregnant partner you might think you're just a cheerleader in this whole "getting the baby out" situation, but you're much more than that. The last thing a lady wants when she's in the middle of labor is to have to stop and explain something that's going on. If you know the basics of what's going on with your partner's body, you can be a better advocate and support for her as she labors.
... And What Happens After
You don't need to know every nitty gritty detail, but you do need to know that the cord will need to be cut and someone is likely going to ask you to do it. You'll also need to know that your baby is going to be slimy and gooey. If the doctor mentions the word meconium, it's more helpful if you know what that word means sooner than later.
Know How To Diaper & Feed A Baby
Google changing a diaper, watch a few YouTube videos, go to a class, ask a nurse at the hospital to show you, and try it out before you leave the hospital. It's scary at first, especially when you're terrified you're going to break the baby, but it won't get any less scary if you don't jump in. If your partner is breastfeeding, you won't necessarily be on the hook to feed the baby from the start, but making sure your partner has a snack or a drink while she feeds your child is a great way to aid the process until you can be involved.
Know How Tired You'll Be
Even if you aren't the one getting up every three hours (or more often) to feed the baby, you won't be sleeping soundly and all night, like you used to. A new baby interrupts sleep for both parents, for at least a few months (if not a few years).
Know That Onesies Can Be Taken Off By Pulling Them Down
What every parent should know before their baby has his first blow out? That onesies are designed so you don't have to take them off over the baby's head and for that specific reason. No poop on the baby's face! It doesn't make a blow out any less disgusting, but it might save you from having to give the baby a bath right that minute.
Know How He Feels About Circumcision
Unless you're having a baby girl, in which case you don't have to worry about circumcision at all for the moment. But if you're having a baby boy or are waiting until the delivery to be surprised about the sex, you'll want to have a conversation with your partner about the pros and cons of circumcision before a doctor is staring you in the face, waiting for an answer.
Know That Babies Aren't Always Fun From The Start
I think my partner was a little surprised that our daughter was more work than fun for the first few months of her life, and I think he only realized he felt this way when she started getting more interactive. As newborns, babies are a lot of work without much return, and then they finally start to smile and laugh and they're a heck of a lot more enjoyable to be around. But those first few months can really take their toll on you if you're not mindful of it.
Know That Postpartum Is No Joke
For anyone, even adoptive parents. But adoptive parents don't necessarily have to deal with surges of hormones that make the person who just gave birth a few days ago cry uncontrollably and for no reason.
So partners, learn the warning signs of postpartum depression and be prepared to support your partner in getting some help.
Know That You Will Think About Sleep All The Time
If you're not thinking about how much you would love to lie down on the floor and take a nap, you're going to be thinking about why on earth your baby isn't sleeping, or whether the sound of you going to the kitchen to make a sandwich will wake him or her up. You'll wonder why you probably shouldn't flush the toilet because that will definitely wake him or her up. You will have a thought about someone's sleep almost constantly for weeks, and that will be a pretty strange change. But trust me, it's perfect.
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