US Congressman Charles E McKenzie once said, “Playing golf is like raising children. You keep thinking you'll do better next time”.
Before you start your journey down the path of parenthood, you might want to do some planning to avoid the cracks along the way. From finances and family support to the size of your home, there is a lot to consider.
Saying that, there are plenty of brilliant Dads out there who haven’t read one line on parenting, let alone attended an antenatal class. It’s all about finding what works for you, so you have the confidence to tackle whatever parenthood throws at you.
Parenting is the most rewarding job in the world, but it is not
easy. You will need support as babies require constant care, so ask yourself
this, do you have friends or family nearby?
Interestingly, during pregnancy or soon after birth, many single parents and couples move closer to family members [often a mother or moth-in-law], so they can get the help and support they need. Not everyone has this luxury, and there are plenty of us out there going it alone!
When your bundle of joy arrives, you will need as much help as possible, both from a practical and mental perspective. From running errands and receiving hand-me-downs to having a chat with other Dads, you will need to nurture a support network. ManDad is setting up Clubz in 2022 – take a look.
Once you have both agreed on having a baby, you may wish to get professional medical advice. In the first instance, contact your GP, who can offer tips on your health, diet and lifestyle, as well as provide Mum-to-be with a check-up, so that her pregnancy is as healthy as possible.
Even the strongest relationships can feel the strain of parenthood.
You both need to be agreed on the reasons for wanting a child and discuss what
parenting will look like. You may have different experiences and opinions on
routine, feeding, discipline, and education.
Remember: creating a family should be rewarding, bringing you and your partner closer together.
Having a baby will change your life forever, so you will need plenty of communication and commitment. Here are some things to consider:
- How stable is your relationship with your partner?
- Do you both want a baby?
- Do you have the finances to care for a child?
- How will your day-to-day routines change?
- What will be the childcare arrangements?
- What will happen if your relationship ends?
This last one is a toughy. No one enters into a relationship
expecting to break up; unfortunately, many relationships don’t work out. Having
kids is one thing that can cause parents to go their separate ways. Priorities
change, arguments break out, frustrations build. And having a baby will not ‘fix’
a broken or struggling relationship, so be sure not to enter into baby-making
conversations if you are at odds with each other.
Finally, don’t try to be perfect. None of us are! We are all muddling through, trying to do and be the best we can be. Modern society has placed so much pressure on parents. We judge ourselves and each other, and we constantly compare – not only ourselves but our children. We feel guilty for not doing enough, and often as Dads, we don’t know where or how we fit into the child-rearing equation.
Never fear, ManDad is here!
Dad, accept that you are never going to have enough time or money and just get on with it! There is never a perfect time to start a family, and of course, accidents happen! So, don’t beat yourself up. Stick with us, connect with other Dads, and we’ll help each other out.
Trying for a baby
You’ve spent years practising, but now it’s your big moment – you need to get out on the pitch and perform for real. Are you match fit for the big occasion?
For many men, conceiving a baby sounds like the easy (and fun) bit, but you shouldn’t take success for granted. Taking steps to be more healthy will improve your fertility, increasing the chances of a successful and healthy pregnancy.
Fortunately, you don’t need to eat a boatload of raw oysters to put lead in your pencil. Instead, here are a few practical steps every man can take.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that enjoying a regular fag can potentially cause fertility problems by lowering the quality of sperm and the sperm count. Smoking also causes male sexual impotence, while passive smoking can affect female fertility. If you need some support to quit smoking, register for the NHS Smoke-free emails https://www.nhs.uk/better-health/quit-smoking/
Regular drinking above recommended alcohol levels can cause problems with fertility for both men and women. Try to limit yourself to 14 units of alcohol per week, spread over several days. High alcohol consumption can mean you lose interest in sex while having lower testosterone and sperm count.
Being overweight can reduce the quality and quantity of your sperm, which could lead to problems when trying to conceive. There is also some evidence to suggest that your weight could affect your child’s obesity level.
Having a healthy, balanced diet can improve the quality of your
sperm. Research has shown that overeating processed food containing saturated
and trans fats can have a negative effect. With that in mind, try to eat more fruit
and veg, along with whole grains and fish. Cut down on your caffeine intake
Top fact: eating a portion of walnuts every day has been found to increase the swimming speed of sperm! Go nuts for your nuts, boys!!
Unprotected sex can lead to STIs, such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea. Symptoms can include rashes, lumps and itchiness around your genitals, as well as pain when urinating. The trouble is, many people experience few, if any, symptoms, so it is worth getting checked out. If left untreated, STIs can lead to infertility, but a course of antibiotics will usually do the trick when caught early enough.
Mother Nature has designed the male body to keep sperm cool by storing them outside your body in the testicles. Ideally, sperm should be just below body temperature, so avoid hot baths or sitting still for hours on end. Wear boxer shorts and loose trousers, and don’t keep your phone in your front pocket
It is well documented that high levels of stress can have a detrimental effect on your health, including your fertility. Conceiving a baby can also add to your stress levels, so make sure you take time to relax with your partner – have fun, go on date nights, perhaps even find some unusual places to do the deed! Try not to put yourselves under too much pressure to make a baby.
Watch this space for more info on baby-making!
Successfully conceiving a baby can take a few months. Still, if you have had no success for six months or more, it’s probably time to go and see your GP for some professional medical advice.
Not everyone can conceive naturally, but don’t worry — there is a range of fertility treatments available. Here is a quick guide:
- Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is an artificial insemination technique commonly used by people using donated sperm.
- In vitro fertilisation (IVF) isused for a wide range of fertility issues. IVF is available with or without medication. Options include natural IVF, mild stimulation IVF and in vitro maturation (IVM) – suitable for those unable to use fertility drugs due to medical reasons.
- Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is the most common and successful treatment for male infertility.
Fertility drugs: those with polycystic ovary syndrome or hormone imbalances can have non-invasive fertility drug treatment.
Surgical sperm extraction: men with a low sperm count can have sperm collected surgically for use in other procedures.
Surgery: some fertility issues are treatable with surgery, such as blocked fallopian tubes, endometriosis, fibroids and vasectomy reversal.
Surrogacy: ideal for couples who find it difficult or impossible to have natural pregnancies and have failed fertility treatments
Legal note: Advertising to be a surrogate or looking for a surrogate is illegal in the UK. Seek professional help to meet potential mothers and to draw legally protected agreements.
Midnight runs to the supermarket caused by sudden cravings,
dealing with mood swings and morning sickness – pregnancy brings much joy and
One of the most common mistakes made by new Dads is that they focus on the birth rather than the period of pregnancy. Take our word for it: pregnancy puts a heavy burden on Dads-to-be, so you need to be prepared for everything your partner might throw at you (literally).
To help you prepare for the adjustment, we have highlighted some of the bigger issues.
Not every woman suffers from morning sickness, but most, if not
all, will feel tired and may need to take naps during the day. Your partner’s
hormones will be in overdrive during the early stages of pregnancy, so expect plenty
of tears and tantrums.
If morning sickness is a problem, seeing your partner suffer from nausea day and night can also ruin your appetite. The trick is to find foods that don’t upset her stomach while avoiding any fatty or spicy dishes.
Have plenty of dry snacks and bottled water to hand, and make small meals at regular intervals during the day rather than one main meal.
Pregnancy can often feel like you’re in lockdown, so try to stay active with daily walks with your partner. How about arranging to do some fitness or sports activity with other Dads? It will help you maintain a social life and have the opportunity to share and express your feelings. Check out our Clubz page – you might even want to set up your own Community Club!
0Pregnancy will change your partner’s feelings towards sex. Some women may find that they are too tired to have sex, while others might want more sex than usual. There is no right or wrong way; it’s just something you need to come to terms with as a couple. Make sure you communicate! Talk about sex, and during the later stages of pregnancy, get creative with positions so that your other half is comfortable throughout.
Mum-to-be may feel less able to do work around the house. Prepare to get stuck in if you don’t already, or double up your daily chores if you are already involved with housework.
Through all the stresses and strains, try to remain supportive by encouraging your partner and telling her she looks great, even in a dressing gown and slippers! Share your feelings with other Dads, especially the more experienced ones, as you will also need plenty of emotional support. Join our forums to talk about all things ‘Dad’.
The big question every new Dad wants to know about the upcoming
birth is: will I be overcome with emotion, or will I pass out? Here we aim to
help you prepare for the biggest day in your life.
Whether it’s a false alarm or the real thing, you need to be prepared for what lies ahead. Hopefully, you will have done all the ‘nesting’ so that your home is ready for the new arrival and you have plenty of supplies.
Your partner’s emotions will be running high as the due date
approaches, so you will need to be hands-on to get everything ready. First, help
to prepare the overnight bag so that you know what’s in there. Second, are you personally
ready for the rush to the hospital? Do you have everything you need, including
drinks and snacks? – you might be there a while.
Do you even know how to get to the maternity ward? Get familiar with the layout of your nearest hospital and even do a few practice runs. Check out a few different routes, plus parking and charges.
When the time comes, your partner will know when the real
contractions kick in. You might have the urge to run around like a headless chicken,
but it would be more helpful if you timed the contractions. When they are strong
and at regular five-minute intervals, it should be game on!
Another sure sign that the baby is on the way is when your partner’s water breaks. This is when the womb sac bursts, sending out a stream of amniotic fluid. Be prepared for this to happen in the car on the way to the hospital. Line the seat with plastic and keep towels handy. Try to make a mental note of the amount of fluid and its colour so you can tell the staff at the hospital. Then, if you haven’t already done so, ring the maternity ward to tell them that you are on your way.
Whether it takes minutes or hours, the labour itself can be
broken down into three stages. It is helpful if Dads learn these, so they understand
what’s going on in the maternity ward.
Stage one: the female body naturally makes an opening for the baby by opening up the cervix (top of the vagina) to create the birth canal
- Stage two: you get your first sight of the baby.
- Stage three: once your baby is out, it will be followed by the afterbirth (placenta).
Your partner may choose to select pain management. Options include gas and air (laughing gas), TENS (electronic aid), Pethidine, or an epidural. It is worth noting that if your partner has had children before, the labour and delivery can be over very quickly.
The number of elective caesareans (C-sections) is rising, and
they now account for more than one in 10 births. While certain celebrities have
been branded as “too posh to push” by choosing to have C-sections, there are
many situations where they are medically required.
Reasons for requiring a C-section include:
- Baby in breech position
- Previous caesarean section
- Placenta praevia (blockage)
- Contracted pelvis
- Severe pre-eclampsia
- Twins, or more!
- Maternal HIV or herpes
- Sphincter, bladder or rectum problems
Mums might prefer a C-section for other reasons, including a
fear of pain, a previous traumatic birth or other medical anxiety.
The benefits are that C-sections lower the risk of haemorrhages, surgical complications and some post-birth issues. However, they do involve extended hospital stays and are not pain-free.
Following consultations with the medical professionals, it may be down to personal choice. The good news is that you can still be present and hold your partner’s hand, and you’ll be there to hear the first cry. You can also cut the cord if you want to.
In the old days, after a natural birth, the umbilical cord was
cut immediately. These days, cord clamping is delayed for several minutes until
the baby’s heart rate has stabilised. Hopefully, if you are still conscious,
you will get the chance to cut the cord and welcome your baby into the world.
Congratulations Man, you are now a Dad!
Being a new parent should be the most joyous period of your
life, but you need to be aware of some of the challenges you may face as a
Once the excitement of birth is over, the reality of your new life kicks in. Sleep deprivation is one of the most significant issues, and you may feel a burden of extra responsibilities. Your partner’s body is still recovering from the birth itself, and it will take some time to get back to pre-pregnancy shape and fitness.
More than that, there is the emotional impact of childbirth on you and your partner. Sometimes called the “baby blues”, it can develop into more serious post-partum depression. Yes, guys, this can happen to you too. Check out our article in Issue 1 of ManDad Magazine and check back here for updates on Dad’s and post-natal depression.
Research has shown that around one in seven mums experiences some
form of post-partum depression. Although it commonly emerges in the first few
weeks after the birth, this form of depression can occur at any point during
your baby’s first year.
Common symptoms are feelings of sadness, hopelessness or even guilt. Both new and experienced parents can struggle with the emotional needs of caring for their baby. As a Dad, keep an eye out for signs of mood swings, lack of caretaking and bonding, and general sadness. You should both be over the moon, but this isn’t always the case.
In rare cases, depression can develop into post-partum psychosis, a more serious mental illness type. If you have concerns, seek medical advice as soon as possible.
Hormone levels peak at the time of birth and then dramatically drop when your baby is born. This sudden change can spark changes in mood, particularly in those with a history of depression. Other contributing factors can be external stresses, such as struggling to care for your baby, financial problems and issues with drugs or alcohol.
If you are concerned about your partner, talk to her. Try to
find out how she’s feeling and ask her if she’s aware of some of the things
you’re noticing. She might agree with you and accept that some support is
required. She may be unaware and state that nothing is wrong.
You can contact your local GP for help. If post-partum
depression is diagnosed, your doctor may prescribe anti-depressants to help
balance the chemicals in the brain.
Your partner can also receive counselling, which can help them understand and recognise their negative feelings and deal with them. You can also support your partner by arranging daily outdoor exercise, periods of relaxation such as spa or pampering days and attending parenting groups where you can both share experiences.
If you are worried about your partner, the sooner you contact your local GP, the better.
More to come on this very important topic! If you have experience of post-natal depression, get in touch. We’d love to hear your story, and the more we talk about it, the more Dads will understand what’s going on for Mum and even themselves.
If you’re lucky enough to find time to have a pint and cigar to
celebrate the new arrival, make the most of it!
Parenthood brings massive change, and it can be difficult and daunting to find your place in your new family. There may be questions, such as, “What’s my role?”, “Where do I fit in?”, “How do I bond with the baby when they’re breastfeeding so much?”. Read on, but Issue 2 of ManDad Magazine covers these topics and more. Grab your subscription from our Membership page.
Here are a few helpful hints from Dads who have been there and got the stains on the t-shirt.
Seeing your newborn child is an amazing experience, but it is natural to be frightened to dress them and hold them as they seem so fragile. Don’t worry; you’ll get used to holding and caring for your little one – it’s all part of the natural bonding process. Within a few weeks, you’ll be able to change a nappy in your sleep and getting dressed won’t spark panic every time you move a limb to get that tiny body into clothes.
Also known as the Maternity Certificate, the form provides medical
evidence of pregnancy and the baby's due date. Issued after week 20 of
pregnancy, your GP or midwife will complete this.
The MAT B1 form is necessary for your partner to claim maternity pay and benefits, such as statutory maternity pay (SMP). You will also need it to claim paternity pay when your baby is born. Make a couple of copies as you may need to send them to more than one employer.
We understand that every couple and family dynamic is different.
Traditionally, women have stayed home to raise children and take care of the
home, whilst Dad works and provides for everyone. The world has moved on a lot
in the last few decades, and rightly so. Many women work full-time, and couples
share the load when it comes to cooking, cleaning, bathing, laundry, shopping,
Some guys do more than their other half, and of course, there are plenty of single Dads out there doing a cracking job every day – if you’re one of them, please let us know. We’d love to give you a mention, and you might even have some Dad-hacks to share! Mum will need time to rest and recover, and she’ll likely sleep when the baby sleeps. By doing your fair share or more, you’ll be supporting your family even when not directly hands-on with the baby.
You can ensure that Mum has plenty to eat and drink, especially if breastfeeding. She’ll be hungry because the baby is hungry – it takes energy to grow a new human, as well as provide plenty of milk after birth.
Think about the little things too. Keep items such as hand cream and lip balm nearby so that Mum doesn’t need to get up. And keep a small stash of baby bits next to the bed – nappies, wipes, cream, spare dummy, a change of clothes, medicines. Replenish daily to not constantly have to get up or go hunting for something – especially during the night!
On top of the practical tasks, your role as a Dad involves bucket loads of emotional support for your partner. Constantly reassure them that they are doing a brilliant job, even when they are tired and moody. Think of your family as a team, and you’re the manager in the dugout.
Everybody needs sleep, and dealing with nocturnal interruptions is
one of the most significant issues facing new parents. Try to share the duties
so both of you can find time to catch up on sleep. Negotiate time for yourself
too. If you need to sleep in once a week, then agree on it in advance.
You can grab sleep when the baby sleeps, so don’t feel guilty about taking naps during the day. You need to look after yourself, so don’t be afraid to cancel visits from family or friends if you need time to sleep.
And if grandparents or other family members or friends want to help, they can take the pushchair out for a spin while you get some rest at home. Grab it while you can, and even a 20 or 30-minute cat-nap can make a huge difference.
Your routine will be defined by whether you’re breastfeeding or using
formula. If your baby is on bottles, get organised with plenty pre-made in the
fridge, and take on 50% of the feeding.
The key is to support each other when feeding, so make sure you put the kettle on and get out the biscuits when your partner is breastfeeding. Do the nappy changes before a feed and be hands-on before and after baby is at the breast.