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Pregnancy Pointers Just-for-Dads : Things You Can Do Now

For new dads-to-be, their partner’s pregnancy can be a confusing and even stressful affair. We polled experts and dads alike to find out what helps dads-to-be actively partic-ipate in their partner's pregnancy. Our tips will help you relax and be prepared to cele-brate the birth of your baby — and your new dad status.

Do your homework

“Study up on the basics. You don’t have to read an entire book, but at least a few chap-ters. When your partner sends you links with information that she’s learning, make sure to review it, too,” says Seth D. Ginsberg, health advocate, social entrepreneur and new father.

Brush-up on your baby care skills.

Dads can find lots of helpful info in videos, books and online tutorials. Get a handle on the basics of baby care now — things like feeding, diaper changing, sleeping — so you’ll be prepared when you baby arrives. “Do 95 percent ‘preparation' so you only have to spend 5 percent on the ‘perspiration’ when it’s show time,” advises Ginsberg. “The month or so leading up to the due date is the perfect time to cram, but take it seriously. You’ll thank yourself later.”

Get your and your partner’s paperwork in order.

Work on collecting your insurance forms, financial information and consider setting up a will. “Do most of the legwork before the baby so that it’s ready to go,” says Ginsberg. “Call the health insurance company to get the newborn information, access to any post-partum care that you’re entitled to, and once the baby has a Social Security number, he/she should get added to the insurance.” Ginsberg adds an important note: “Most in-surance companies require a child/dependent to be added within 30 days of birth, so don’t put this off.”

Talk to your employer.

“Talk with your employer about paternity leave to understand your benefits, if they ex-ist,” suggests Ginsberg. Set up an appointment with your human resources representa-tive to learn more. You can also research the Family and Medical Leave Act on your own online.

Take care of yourself.

There’s no doubt a flurry of activity at home now, with your partner pregnant and a baby on the way. But you still need to take time to care for yourself. “Start eating better,” says Ginsberg. “Get yourself ready as if you were about to run a marathon – which you wouldn’t do without some training. If you can get some exercise in, you’ll need it (and won’t have much time to do it after the baby arrives).” If you’re confused about how best to start, simply begin by cutting back on greasy, unhealthy, fatty foods and focus on a healthy, balanced diet.

Learn how to feed a baby.

Even if mom is planning to nurse, it is great for dads-to-be to know how to give baby a bottle. Learn how to assemble a bottle, measure the formula, warm it to room tempera-ture, clean and sterilize it — and then do a practice run before the baby comes,” says Ginsberg. “You don’t want to do this the first time while holding a crying baby. But once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to do it.”

Communicate.

“Stay open, curious and inquisitive in your communication. Now, more than ever, your partner wants and needs to feel heard and understood by you,” says Dr. Fran Walfish, a child, parenting and relationship psychotherapist and author of “The Self-Aware Parent.” Spend time together with your partner. Schedule a weekly date night with your partner, says Walfish. “The couple is the foun-dation, the bricks and mortar of every family. Remember to tend and care for (your-selves first) in order to preserve the marriage and family unity.”

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