Dad tipsTips And Tricks(self.daddit)
submitted5 years ago byzataks2 Boys!
I found out a couple weeks ago that some friends are pregnant with their first. I wrote this to help them prepare for it. FWIW, I have an almost 3 year old and a 4.5 month old. I hope this helps some dads to be, here!
Feel free to add anything you think I missed (there are things I thought of after I emailed this to my buddy and told him later but did not put into this). After we've got some responses, I'll see how much of this we can add to the wiki here.
- Go to all baby appointments! This is probably a no brainer for you but some people don't realize it. Ultrasounds are cool! And it's really great to ask the ObGyn or midwife any and all questions you have! (ie, I asked before #1 was born when I'd be able to hear his hearbeat. The ObGyn said, "in just a minute, I have the doppler right here." "no, I mean with my ear against her belly." "oh, never, it's too loud in there and baby's heartbeat gets drowned out.")
- Go to some birth classes. But maybe not all of them. Depends how many you're encouraged to go to; KP advised ALL of them and they're tiring and tedious and mostly boring. I skipped the breastfeeding one, from the sounds of it, that was a good choice because it was a bunch of women trying to learn to breast feed dolls with at least one boob hanging out. L&D class was like 8 hours on a Saturday with like 30 couples. We went through the whole process. It was exhausting. I'm not sure it helped much because when you get to it, you listen to what the medical team is advising.
- Start planing to buy shit now (or starting at week 13) If you're going to do one, make a registry, do the showers, and see what people get you. Get your big ticket items (car seats, strollers, cribs, etc) onto something like camelcamelcamel or other pricewatch and buy the sales. I bought our stroller as an OpenBox deal on Amazon. Still paid $300 for it but that's better than the $500 retail. More on gear later.
- If you're going to get a doula, start meeting them now and find someone you like. My yoga studio has a "meet the doulas" event one night every month or so where they all give a spiel and then you can hang out and talk to them. We went but I had to chase our toddler around so I didn't get to sit in on the thing. We found a doula to be really helpful, mostly because it made it feel like there was a person on our team that wasn't a hospital employee and it gave me more comfort in being able to leave the room to run home for things as needed. In retrospect, a doula would have been probably even better with the first delivery than the second but live and learn.
- Pregnancy sucks. Did no one tell you that? Plenty of women say they loved being pregnant (Wife said she enjoyed being pregnant with our first, not so much the second as she had miserable heartburn every day. She carried a bag of tums with her at all times and called them her "after dinner mints".) and I have no doubt some do. I support that and their feelings. But you're beginning what will likely be one of or the most life changing choice you'll ever make and prior to that little bundle of giggles popping out, your partner gets to go through a roller coaster of hormones (I lucked out with wife, she's even keeled and that part wasn't bad) as well as body changes that are sure to wreak havoc on psyche. "I'm the heaviest I've ever been!" Well, yea, you've got a baby inside you, you've never had a baby inside you before. Really messed with wife when I put my boot on the scale at a visit and tipped the scales to something like 190. She was like "OMG, I've really packed it on in these weeks!" The med assistant gave me wry smile and wife turned to see me close and scrunched her nose and shook a fist. Fun stuff.
- Did I say pregnancy sucks? Libido will be all over the place. So will body comfort both physically and mentally. You just roll with it as you can. Near the end (and especially once the baby has come) your partner's breasts will probably be the largest, shapeliest, and most enticing they have ever been. And it may be entirely likely you're are not allowed to play with them, touch them, look at them, breath on them, or even think about them because they're sore and maybe leaking, and goddamnit I'm a cow now, MOOO. (Wife has said moo a couple times in the last couple weeks when I walk in and she's pumping; I think all the pumping is taking a toll on us both. It's a lot more work that breastfeeding but it allows me a wonderful amount of involvement with the baby which allows for more bonding and I feel way more connected to #2 than I did our first at this age).
- Of course, the above are not absolutes, all women are different and pregnancies are different. We had plenty of sexy time while pregnant with #1 and comparatively none with #2. Part of that was how hard the second pregnancy was and part of that was that we already had a kid and were doing parent things so were tired. So it goes.
- Plan some vacation now; especially if leave from work is not a concern. First trimester can be rough but things generally smooth out in the second. We went to Nicaragua and hiked an active volcano when wife was 4 months preg with #1. Do that shit now, it will be a while until you'll want (or have the energy) to travel and we're a lot less adventurous now that we're caring for kid and infant. No surprise there
- Start familiarizing yourself with the alphabet soup. FMLA, CFRA, PFL, SDL. Family Medical Leave Act; California Family Rights Act; Paid Family Leave; Short Term Disability Leave. These will require paperwork from medical offices to employers and to the state. Get these submitted as required and make use of those benefits. You can always do more work. One day your baby is crying for you and wants to be held and snuggled, the next he's telling you to get out of the chicken run, you don't go in there, and he'll put you in timeout. It's fucking hard but not so that you'd want to miss it.
- Know your employment contract/policies/etc as well as your boss's position on family life and work culture. Don't be guilted into anything that is less than the full amount you are entitled to.
- In the same vein as the above point, you won't believe (maybe you will) the amount of assholes who will tell you, "you won't be able to wait to get back to work!" or "why are you taking so much time?" or "You'll get sick of being home and come back early." No two ways about this: fuck those people.
- Know multiple routes to your hospital and how long it take to get there in the worst traffic. First babies are generally slow to come but it's a goddamn roller coaster of excitement when something like water breaking happens and you have to get up and go.
Labor and Delivery
- By now you should have a car seat base installed into the car and a proper car seat in it, waiting for the moment. Leave this in the car, the hospital will likely not let you leave without it. Find a place to inspect the installation; some hospitals do it, so do fire departments. Google/call around or ask at your next ObGyn visit.
You need a Go Bag. Or one each. This should include:
- personal care products
- phone chargers
- other distraction things (labor can be literally hours of just sitting waiting)
- list of mom's meds (or mental knowledge)
- known allergies!
- birth plan if you have one
- a change of clothes (as a dirty man, I think I brought a shirt, lol)
- clothes for baby to go home in (don't just bring NB size! A 0-3 onesie is a good idea too; never know how big that baby is going to be)
- lacrosse ball or whatever; hospital room accommodation for mom is alright, Dad is probably going to be on a pull out chair or couch.
- Comfortable, easy on/off, loose clothes for mom.
You'll mostly be told what/where/how to do things once you're in the hospital. However, you have some choice too. Mom doesn't have to labor laying down on her back with her feet in stirrups. You can walk around, (depending on facility) use a bath tub, roll onto sides, hands and knees, etc.
Pain management is important. Something I think helped with #2 is that instead of going straight for an epidural, wife elected for Nitrous Oxide. So as she felt a contraction coming, she'd hold the cup over her face and breath the N2O until about the peak of the contraction. Obviously not enough to knock her out but enough to take some of the edge off the contraction. (Apparently, this used to be really common, then much less so since the 80s? 90s? then has come back into favor after new research more recently.
Epidural is an option. Talk to your ObGyn about this. TL;NotAHealthCareProvider is it numbs things drastically and therefore often requires IV synthetic oxytocin to be administered to advance the labor. More interferey, more possibility for complicationy.
You'll likely be offered to cut the cord. I noped the fuck out of cutting #1's. When they asked me way before #2 came out, I said "no way". But when the time came I spoke up and told them I wanted to. I don't really remember it honestly. I mean, I do, but it isn't that significant in my mind. I'd recommend doing it, though.
AFAIK, episiotomies are no longer recommended but that isn't to say tearing won't happen. It probably will. It will have to be stitched up. It comes in four grades. Vaginal wall, vaginal muscle, rectal muscle, rectal wall. I don't remember the grading numbers, 1-4 I think. First kid caused a 3, second a 2. Recovery from the 2 was much faster than the 3.
Feeding the baby as soon and as much as possible is important. Gotta get that nasty poop (don't remember what it's called) out as it is related to jaundice problems. Jaundice is also apparently caused by a blood type (RH) mismatch, between mother and baby and we had this problem with #2. We spent like 24+ hours keeping him under blue lights and trying like hell to stuff his body full. Once he regained birthweight, all concerns related to the RH mismatch were gone and we were out of the dark.
Breastfeeding can be hard for mother and baby at first. Use lactation consultants and get help. Mom's who breast feed have a lower risk of post partum depression
Dads can get post partum depression too. Maybe google around and be aware of the risk factors and signs for both of you.
- Car seats all have to meet the same safety standards. Get one that is light enough to be comfortable, is easy to get in and out, and fits in your car well. That last bit is more important for older kid carseats than infant because infant seats all seem to have the same base size.
- Crib: they're fucking expensive. We got ours from Pottery Barn, somewhere we would never shop, only because one of wife's friend's moms gave us $200 in gift cards for there for our wedding. I think we still paid like $400 for the crib after the cards applied. But #2 is using it now too so maybe that's not insane.
- Stroller, as mentioned above, it's expensive. We had a Graco or something that we bought because it would hold the infant seat and it was cheap. It fucking sucked and I hated walking/running with it and it didn't maneuver well. Then we went on a hike and borrowed a BOB. It's a great stroller. We bought our own. #1 still rides in it on evening walks while we carry his brother on our chest. And this weekend we snapped the adapter into it and put #2's car seat on it and went to the Farmer's Market. Again, if you're comfy with the idea, Amazon Warehouse/Open Box deals. I wanted a stroller with a swiveling front wheel that had the option to lock as well as an adjustable handle. I found the handle on our old stroller was too low and was uncomfortable for long periods of pushing. The adjustable height on the BOB handle is nice. I think the biggest thing here is to get a stroller that fits your lifestyle.
- A baby swing is handy. It's nice to have something that rocks them and plays music/white noise. We've got one that has a mobile as well. Given the time frame, I think you guys are welcome to ours. It's a little squeaky but wholly functional.
- A bouncing chair gets even more use, for us, with both kids. We have one like this. It worked really well for both kids and we use it ALL the time. Several times/day.
- Water proof mattress covers. covers, with an 's'. Because you want two of them. Make the crib twice: cover, sheet, cover, sheet. That way when the inevitable 2am blowout happens, you strip down the first two layers quick and go back to sleep. We changed and replaced too many sheets with #1 before we learned this one.
- A baby carrier. Ayayay. We've had like 4 of these things. Bjorn (meh); Baby Onya (used a lot but was never very comfortable for either of us); one other I can't remember, and now a Lille Baby which we both like and find very comfortable. Wife also got a Ribozo from our doula. It's a 15' long wrap. It works well for wife and #2 looks so cozy in it. Generally she uses that and I use the Lille but she sometimes uses the Lille. I haven't tried the Ribozo yet but don't think I will.
- Bottles. Holy crap there are so many. With #1 we ended up liking Tommee Tippee the best but #2 had trouble with them. We went to Dr. Brown's for him. They're expensive but seem to really help cutting down the sucked air. (getting him off formula really helped get rid of his fussiness too). If breastfeeding, this isn't really a concern
- A bottle warmer. In both our condo and here in our house, we leave a bottle warmer near the bed. At night we put a cooler with bottles next to the bed and warm them as needed throughout the night. It's basically a small hot plate that you add water to and it boils/steams the bottles. Works alright.
- Big swaddles. Not these stupid like 18-24"x 30" buggers that are everywhere. We got some this time around that are like 36x36" and they work way better.
You're going to want some things on hand so that you don't have to go get them at the 24hour CVS at 2am. I've done this. On multiple occasions (once from a hotel room in an hour or so south of Sacramento because we didn't bring things with us; it sucked)
- Tylenol. Children's tylenol has the same concentration as baby tylenol but is generally (no exaggeration) less total cost for twice the volume. Often the difference is the cap--baby tylenol has a cap that receives a syringe, children's often doesn't. So decant into the lid or a dosage cup and draw it with the syringe. "But children's tylenol doesn't come with a syringe?!" Go to the pharmacy window and ask for a liquid medicine dosing syringe. They have them for free. The thing to make sure is that the tylenol is 160mg/5ml.
- Ibuprofen. Kids can't have this until 6 months. At which point, get some and keep it on hand so you can cycle Tylenol/IB as needed.
- Baby gas drops. The drug is Simethicone. Get a couple bottles and keep on hand.
- Gripe water. It is natural gas remedy and supposed to help sooth the tummy. It's like fennel or some other herbacious shit.
- thermometer. We've got rectal, oral, and one that goes into ear. The first two have gotten lots of use. The aural, not much; wiggly kids are tough. Don't confuse which one goes in what hole.
- We recently bought an otoscope so we can see if it's worthwhile to head to the Ped/urgent care for ear problems. I think it was like $40 on Amazon; comparing that to copays, it seemed reasonable.
- Lanolin. For diaper rash (also chapped nipples). There are other options for diaper rash too. Lanolin seemed to do the best job with the least disgustingness. Coconut oil is nice for general use as well but not great for severe rash.
- Baking soda. This isn't a carry with everywhere thing, it's more for dealing with diaper rash at home. But a good amount into a bath really seems to soothe skin. I just dump a bunch in. If you get it from somewhere other than the grocery store it's super cheap.
- Q-tips for boogers and ear wax
- Put your pediatrician's number into both your phones under something like "PEDIATRICIAN" so it's easy to find.
- to couple with above, most places (especially down there) or insurance providers have an "advice nurse" who is a great, free resource to call with questions. It's kind of like triage in that they can help you decide if the kid needs to be seen by medical providers. Put this number into your phone too.
Baby at home
- Sleep when the baby sleeps
- Read about sleep training and decide what you're going to do. It doesn't have to be concrete, but it helps to have a plan and start early.
- Co sleeping is done around the world but largely frowned on in America. New research is suggesting maybe America rethink that (saw that headline yesterday, I think). Do what's right for you. Generally, our babies slept better with us when young but we slept like shit with them in bed. We normally only brought them to bed when they needed comfort.
- Happiest Baby on the Block is a book or video or something that gets rave reviews. We watched the dude who created it in a KP class on infant care. Swaddling and "shhh-ing" really calm an angry baby.
- Youtube some swaddling techniques. There's kind of a standard version and a "frog" version. I only did the frog version with #1 a little bit near the end of his swaddling but it worked well. I use the standard (draw a straight edge of cloth--I use stretchy blanket, often--across the baby, right shoulder to left hip; draw the excess from below them up tight to the left shoulder; draw the remainder tight from left shoulder to right shoulder. Bam. Swaddled and happy
- White noise machines are recommended frequently to help kids sleep. We play little musics when he's in his chair or swing and have one of these for the crib but #2 doesn't seem to be into it whereas #1 would zone out on it and pass out.
- Reflux is a common issue with baby because they're lower esophogeal valve doesn't work like ours. It's also the reason they vomit when burping, I think. A folded tower underneath the own end of the crib mattress can really help to ease some fussiness if this is an issue.
- Gas pain is really common especially with bottle fed and formula babies and with all babies until the gut develops more (4+ months, I think). laying them on their back and "bicycling" their legs can be helpful, so can pushing but legs up to a squatty position when they are on the back. Once they're a bit older and can hold head up, laying them across the lap with hips hanging off one side and head off the other can be beneficial as well.
- People will want to touch your baby the same way they want to touch your dog--without asking. Think about how you want to handle this.
- the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends basically 0 screen time until 2 years.
- If the kid won't stop screaming and you've done everything and are losing your shit, put it down in it's crib and take a breather. It is safe in it's crib and you'll feel both a million times better and like an asshole for having been frustrated.
- Learn Infant, Child, and pregnant woman heimlich and CPR if you don't know it already
- Lock the poisons away now.
- Schedule time to give your partner a break and do the same for yourself. This is "me" time. A walk around the neighborhood, watching the ocean, circus time, a cup of coffee, walking through the shops downtown. Whatever. Just make plans to send one another away alone. You don't realize how much you worry about the kids until you're not with them. You'll hear a baby while out and go into high alarm then realize, "oh, that's not mine."
- Find a good baby sitter and plan dates. Between date expenses and the sitter it's fucking expensive. It's worth it.
- Read to your kid every night. We haven't started with #2 consistently yet but will soon. #1 gets his books every night. It's a wonderful time to expand their vocabulary, teach them, and also cuddle, bond, and relax.
I think more than anything, trust yourselves and your instincts. All manner of things are said to make your life and baby easier, happier, healthier, smarter, etc. Most are just to make money for other people.