It’s not often that we hear about the challenges faced by fathers, but it turns out that many dads feel unprepared for fatherhood.

There is a startling number of men in the U.S. who feel unprepared for fatherhood. Findings in the book The Intentional Father reported that 52 percent of fathers in the U.S. stated they did not feel fully prepared for fatherhood before their child is born.

It’s not surprising that, to some degree, the reality of becoming a dad can be overwhelming. With so many changes in your life, it’s natural to have doubts and concerns about handling the responsibilities of being a parent.

However, with proper preparation and education on what to expect when you welcome your new baby into the world, there are ways for dads-to-be to feel more prepared before they meet their little one.

1. Start research ASAP.

While you won’t spend the next nine months carrying the child, you still will play a vital role in the pregnancy and delivery or even with a surrogate and adoption. It’s essential to get a head start on how to be supportive and what to expect.

Read as many books as you can because there is not just one path to be the best dad. Join support groups and ask questions.

Being prepared for the pregnancy, labor regardless of whether it’s vaginal or cesarean, breastfeeding, and the first couple of months of being a new parent, will help you transition smoothly.

It’s essential to know the basics of newborn care.

You may be a stay-at-home parent or work full time, but some amount of child-rearing is in your future, and it would benefit you to prepare ahead as much as possible.

2. Attend all appointments if possible.

Prenatal appointments are vital to your baby’s health and can provide a ton of insight as to what to expect. Plus, you will get an opportunity to talk to the doctor and ask tons of questions.

The first time you get to see your baby during an ultrasound is an experience you will never forget. Try to plan appointments based on both you and your partner’s availability. While you may not be able to attend every one, it’s essential to be there when you can.

3. Write your Dad Blueprints.

The most exciting part about becoming a new dad is only you get to decide the dad you want to be. Think about the values and morals you want to pass to your child and the experiences you want to share with them.

Find the dad role models you look up to and read their books if they have any. Talk to your father and ask him for his best advice and what scared him. You may have the same fears that every new dad has, and it’s normal.

4. Be a team player.

Even if your relationship or marriage fails in the future, you are forever linked together through your child. It’s time to start thinking about the importance of healthy parenting and always being on the same page as your partner.

Even during the pregnancy, if you see the mother of your child dealing with problems like morning sickness and pain, help her find solutions. When you help her, you are helping your child, which reduces stress during the pregnancy. Stress during pregnancy can lead to complications like high blood pressure for the mother and even risk the child being born with emotional distress or even ADHD.

This is not an exhaustive list. There are many more ways to help your child grow up healthy and happy, but it starts with having the right mindset as a father-to-be or currently, just being a parent!

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