A brand-new, first-time father shares his experience with soon-to-be dads.
Murfreesboro’s Shane Shepard is fresh in the trenches as a proud new dad. His firstborn, Asher, made his debut last month on May 14. Shepard shares his top tips for soon-to-be daddies based on his first-hand experience:
Start talking to your baby in the womb so he recognizes your voice when he is born. This helped Asher and I feel connected at birth.
Attend as many OB/GYN appointments as possible and ask questions. You’ll get a better understanding of what to expect, and your partner will feel supported.
Pick up a few books about birth and fatherhood. I found The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin (Harvard Common Press; 2017) and Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New Dads by Gary Greenberg (Simon & Schuster; 2004) to be invaluable.
Be part of the birth plan. This helped my wife and I to be on the same page with expectations, family and the birth.
Don’t be afraid of “breaking” your baby. Once you pick him up a time or two it becomes natural.
Once your child finally gets here, jump in with both feet: change diapers, learn to burp, learn to swaddle and learn to rock your baby.
Swaddle! Swaddling makes your baby feel safe and secure, reminding him of being in the womb.
Share responsibilities. My wife nurses Asher, then I change his diaper, burp him and swaddle him. We both have certain responsibilities and help each other carry the load.
Don’t be afraid to be affectionate and loving toward your baby in front of others.
Do research when picking a pediatrician, and select one with solid reviews. Having confidence in the medical care your baby receives brings great comfort.
Be selective with info you obtain online. We found americanpregnancy.org and aap.org to be reliable.
Remember that millions of people have birthed babies and raised children. You are not alone!
Local dads dole out advice for fellow fathers:
• Never say, “I’m babysitting.”
• The NoseFrida and Boppy Pillow saved my butt during the first six - eight months.
• Do not co-bed with the baby if you ever want a solid eight hours of sleep!
• Always be willing to change diapers.
• Yelling louder than your child solves nothing.
• You don’t have to be right.
• Buy the newspaper the day your baby is born.
• When your spouse wants to talk, drop what you’re doing and talk.
• Podcasts, Netflix and on-demand media are your friends in the middle of the night.
• Don’t ever run out of coffee.
• Stash extra diapers in the glove compartment of your car.
• You can clean anything with butt wipes.
• Don’t assume a 3-year-old knows where to poop. Show him.
• Tell your pregnant wife she looks gorgeous.
• Diapers are great for buffing your car.
• Talk to your baby ... a lot.
Thanks to our local dads for contributing: Kevin Hawkins, Derek Atkin, Tim Olszewski, Jon Phillips, Wade Plumlee, Will Steih, Brad Tucker and Greg Watson.