Having your first child can be scary, but it doesn't have to be. Here are 11 crucial ways to prepare yourself for your first baby:
1. Be understanding
Knowing that pregnancy is physically and emotionally stressful on a woman in so important. Husbands are going to hear how tired your wife is for the next 9 months and every child after this. Women can't always do the same things that they could before pregnancy. Simple tasks tire pregnant women more quickly than before. Working or being around other people can be exhausting. Recognize that she may not want to have friends over all the time because it zaps her energy (and she feels fat).
There is a scientific explanation to why women lose their train of thought or sometimes feel stupid during pregnancy. A study published in Nature Neuroscience scanned pregnant women's brains to find a substantial reduction of grey matter in the brain. Researchers discovered that this reduction helps a mother recognize the needs of their child and increases their ability to bond with the tiny human that caused them so much pain to get here. When your wife claims to have "pregnant brain," comfort her and tell her it's normal and she is beautiful.
3. Know how to love her
It is important for husbands and wives to realize that a marriage relationship is a priority even though mom and dad are busy preparing for the baby. Time spent together is crucial to maintaining a healthy marriage. Emotional bonding with your spouse before the baby comes makes a smooth transition from husband and wife to parents. Know each other's love languages so you know what to do when she is tired and cranky.
4. Be smart and plan
This one seems like a no brainer... but is it? Saving money well in advance before getting pregnant will be a huge stress relief. Sometimes babies have complications during birth or get ill. Be as prepared as possible to face anything that may come with your bundle of joy. Think ahead and get good insurance that will help you financially. Know how much your insurance will cover and how much will come out of your pocket.
Even though she's a mother now, don't forget she was your wife first. When a wife becomes a mother, she still needs to be treated like the precious girl you married. Plan date nights. Factor in a nap time for her before the date so she can actually enjoy the evening. Surprise her with pizza or cook so she can have a night off. Help her more with the chores. When your baby comes, she will rely on you more than ever, so practice now. Be a thoughtful husband first who supplies for his wife's needs and then be a father second to provide for your child's needs.
6. Take the burden off her
Don't allow her to over do it. If complications or miscarriages happen, she will blame it on herself and try to think of things she should have done differently. It is not always her fault if her body has a problem with pregnancy. Help her be careful with herself so she knows her limitations to keep your baby healthy.
7. Help her be healthy
Cravings happen. Giving in to the occasional cookie run, but help her keep the cupboards full of healthy foods to stay in better shape for a quicker recovery after giving birth. She needs a diet with enough iron and folic acid to have a healthy baby. Lovingly, help her stay healthy so she feels better. It's so much easier to do if you help and support her.
8. Surround yourself with newborn babies
Even if you've had experience with children before (like younger siblings or nieces and nephews), newborns are different. For whatever reason, men often are scared of newborns and think they'll break them. Take the change to be around newborn babies. Help out another new mommy and change their diaper to get in a little practice. Learn how to properly hold them and give their neck enough support. Ask questions now so when it's your turn to get up in the middle of the night, you will feel confident with how to handle your own fussy little one.
Not sleeping gets a lot easier if you anticipate it. It's easier to be patient with the situation if you mentally prepare for it, and you are consistently patient. It's harder to be patient in the moment if you haven't planned for the situation...but that doesn't mean practice before baby comes! Sleep while you still can. Just anticipate it, and be patient when it happens. Find joy in the one-on-one time spent with your baby rather than being frustrated.
Parenting is a new and scary thing. You have to trust each other with this new little bundle of joy that is about to come into your life. Believe in those that know best. Sometimes birthing plans change or complications happen - Doctors will know how to help. Build each other up; You are going to need to support each other through this.
11. Take it as it comes
Having kids and starting a family is hard! However, it will bring you the greatest joy. Once you have kids, it is a full time job - night and day. So take it one step at a time and believe that you can do it. Take the time to enjoy your child and your wife and take pride in being a parent.
Kristina Tieken is a staff writer for FamilyShare, public relations specialist with a love for the fine arts, food and exercise. She enjoys watching movies and spending time with her husband and family.