My wife and I had a baby 5 months ago.
I've written a bunch of things to share with dads-to-be.
Before You Have Baby:
- To have a baby in a hospital in this country, you need good health insurance. Our bill for 3 days in the hospital was massive. Insurance covered >99% of it. You need to have insurance figured out before you get preggers.
- Buy all your baby stuff well in advance of your delivery. The last thing you'll want to be doing once baby comes home is run around for stuff you need.
- The hardest things for us to figure out were the stroller and the carseat. We recommend the Bugaboo Bee stroller and the Greco Snugride carseat. This carseat fits into the stroller so you can transport baby to and from stroller and car without waking her. Beware the giant sized strollers - they're appealing because they hold a lot but we found them to be impossible to maneuver. If you aren't a runner or a regular hiker, don't even think about buying the offroad strollers.
- We also recommend buying a swing that's compatible with the carseat - the swing can be very calming to an upset baby. Graco sells a pack-n-play portable crib that folds up into a tiny packet and is super handy for travel.
- We also found the Baby Beorn bouncer to be a great place for baby to sit safely while you do other stuff.
- Birthing classes are useful and you need to take them. In San Francisco we recommend the McMoyler Method. Two saturdays and you're done.
- Read the book "The Happiest Baby On The Block". It gives you a good plan to stop a baby from crying called The Five S's: Swaddle, Side, Shh, Swing, Suck. I also found parts of 'The No Cry Sleep Solution' useful. A baby encyclopedia with everything you need to know about babies is handy. That's 3 books. Stop there.
- Dads: You need to have the route to your hospital memorized. Be able to drive it in your sleep. You should not have to ask directions.
- Dads: You need to go with mom to the hospital a few weeks before you deliver to scope it out and see where everything is. They usually have Saturday morning tours. You need to find out where to park if you are arriving in a normal situation. And you need to know where to drop mom if you're in an emergency situation.
- Lastly: Even if you are planning on being a 100% breast feeder, buy some formula. After childbirth, mom may reach total exhaustion and may not be able to breast feed for a while. Having formula around may be the difference between sleep and no sleep after birth.
While You Have Baby:
- Drugs or no drugs? You can’t just walk into the hospital and get drugged. You need to make progress first. Progress = dialation.
- No matter how much you have your mind made up that you're going drug free... you need to understand what your options are. Because you may get into situations where getting an epidural may be the best thing for you and your child. For an example: Think about 20+ hours of labor. Do your research, be informed and be open.
- Go to birthing class to learn how to get through contractions.
After You Have Baby:
- Breast feeding is ideal but not everyone is going to succeed at it. If you having problems, get help. But if your wife is about to have a nervous breakdown, remember that priority 1 is NOT to breast feed the baby... priority 1 is to just feed the baby. If you're wife is on the brink then make the call and use formula. Lots of us were fed formula as a kid and we are fine.
- Using a bottle (with a breast pump or formula) may interfere with breast feeding but it does open up huge opportunities to distribute baby care workload. With a bottle, husband can take shifts at night so that wife can get more continuous sleep. We did an every-other-feeding shift which allowed the person not doing the feeding to get 4-6 hours of continuous sleep. Only one person wakes up for a shift.
- If you need 8-10 hours of sleep per night to feel normal... get over it.
- You're wife may be staying home but remember that she's doing a job too. So don't expect to come home from work and kick back with the argument that you've been working all day. So has she.