Preparing for baby to come isn't just a task for expecting mothers. There are plenty of things fathers can, and should, do in preparation for their new little bundle of joy to come. Here are a few tips for the father to be:
Prepare the nursery
This is one of the most enjoyable parts of preparing for your baby. Getting your baby's very first room painted in pink or blue, getting the rocking chair put in place and getting every other part of the nursery ready is fun. It gives you a great chance to prepare mentally for the changes that are coming.
Prepare emotionally for the delivery
This is something my husband really thought he was prepared for, but he now admits to being grossly mistaken. I am one of the few women out there who did not start to dilate until my doctor gave me my epidural. In the mean time I was in quite a substantial amount of pain. My husband had seen me in pain before, but nothing like this. While he is a relatively patient man, I have never seen him closer to physical violence than he was when the nurses weren't helping me with my pain management. Your husband needs to be prepared to see you in a lot of pain (epidural or not).
Prepare mentally for change
There are obvious changes that will happen once the baby arrives. Preparing for changes mentally is a huge part of the preparation. The first night after we came home, my husband literally stayed up all night holding our daughter just staring at her. It was exciting, yet it did take some time to get used to having an extra little person to take care of at all times.
Prepare physically for sleepless nights
You're both going to be tired - very tired. Keep this in mind. It is important that you are ready to stay up all night, have interrupted sleep, and be ready to nap when the baby naps.
Although worth every penny, babies are expensive. Preparing financially for your baby is incredibly important. If you're a starving student this may mean going in to your local Medicaid office and getting your wife and your baby put on Medicaid and WIC (Women, Infant, Children) programs to help. You will need to purchase more furniture, baby food, diapers, clothing - and the list gets longer. Hopefully, many of these things will be provided for you if you have a baby shower. Keep in mind that most gifts at baby showers are for newborns. Your baby will only be a newborn for a few weeks before they grow out of those darling gifts.
Prepare your house
Baby-proofing your house can be time-consuming. Plan on taking a full day to get all of the locks on the cupboards, drawers, and doors. Don't forget to put plugs in the light-sockets too. A lot of these things won't be important until your baby becomes mobile, but getting a head start is a wise idea. It will feel like your baby goes from immobile to running overnight.
Prepare to pamper your wife
Pardon the cliché, but what your wife is about to undergo is miraculous. The entire process will be over before you know it (even though it feels like it's taking forever while you're in the middle of it). Prepare with your wife for labor and help her be as comfortable as possible. This means foot-rubs and helping her adjust her newly swollen limbs, getting her whatever kind of food she wants and always telling her how beautiful she is.
Prepare for germs
While babies and mommies have extremely strong immune systems, it's important to do your part to not introduce anything harmful to your new baby. You're probably working and shaking hands with people on a regular basis. Using hand sanitizer is better than nothing, but simply washing your hands on a regular basis (especially before holding your baby) is your best option for keeping you, your wife and your new baby healthy and strong. It is also important that you make sure you are caught up on your immunizations.
Just because your doctor has given you a tentative date doesn't mean your baby will make their appearance on that day. Be ready to have your plans change and move things around. This means not committing to time off until contractions have started. You've also probably participated in making a birthing plan, be prepared to toss the whole thing out the window when you get to the doctor's office. Things happen and sometimes your baby will have a different plan than you.
Prepare for relatives
This may go without saying, but you and all of your relatives are going to think your baby is the cutest, most precious thing in the entire world. Be prepared for the onslaught of friends and family that want to come see the little charmer. Set visitation rules. Your baby needs to maintain her schedule and you need to limit how many germs get to your child.
Overall just be calm, and be there for your wife. This is an exciting time. Take time to soak it all in and document as much as possible. Your baby's little hands will only be little for what feels like a brief moment in time. Prepare to love as you have never loved before.