04 Mar 2021
It’s the most exciting of times, isn’t it? A baby on the way, and lots of things to think about and plan for. Sometimes it can be hard for dads to feel part of things - they’re not the ones carrying and delivering the baby. Rest assured, there is plenty of opportunities to get involved in the months leading up to the big day.
As well as providing emotional and physical support to the mother of your child, there are ways to provide practical support too, many of which are important tasks to have ticked off before your baby’s arrival. We’ve pulled together a list of 10 things you can do before your baby arrives - let’s dive in to see how you can best help.
1. Do your baby research
This is your baby too, so don’t be afraid of researching pregnancy symptoms and understanding the pregnancy process and different stages. You can be a big support to your partner by understanding the different stages of the pregnancy and the symptoms she may be experiencing. Reading up on the birthing process itself is another way you can prepare yourself and your partner for the big day.
It’s not all over once the birth has taken place though. Do your homework on feeding, sleeping, burping and nappy changes. Lots of these tasks you’ll be able to help out with once your baby arrives. Post-natal depression is something you will have a unique opportunity to look out for - after all, you know your partner best. Understanding the signs to watch for can help you be better prepared if post-natal depression is an issue for your partner.
2. Talk about parenting together
While you prepare for your new baby, this is often a good time to chat about what type of parents you both want to be. What are your expectations of each other, and what parenting styles do you admire or think you’ll adopt? There may be family traditions you want to start or continue from your childhood, or things you’ve learned from other parents that you want to make sure don’t happen in your home.
47% of parents surveyed in our 2020 parenting survey agreed that the biggest surprise as a new parent was their life's priorities changing. Chat as a couple about what you think the biggest changes might be, and how you’d like to approach them.
Some couples have more complex parenting arrangements if they are a blended family and have other children to consider. Start talking with your loved ones about the new baby and how things might change.
Above all else, having open conversations about parenting and making decisions relating to your growing family can keep your lines of communication open and honest. It’s important to have regular conversations as they may not always be easy ones. Choosing paint colours for the baby’s nursery is a different conversation to agreeing how you might discipline a toddler or manage learning difficulties for a school-age child.
3. Discuss your life insurance policies
You may or may not already have a life insurance policy, but we find that a new baby on the way is often a trigger for getting a first policy or reviewing an existing policy. Life insurance is an important conversation to have for peace of mind for you all. What would happen to your children and partner if you were no longer around?
If one of you is taking time out from work to care for your growing family, there are conversations to be had around whether you insure your primary earner, or both of you. Making sure you have a life insurance policy in place to cover lost income from your primary earner is important, but you may also wish to consider cover for a stay at home parent too - childcare, housekeeping and other domestic tasks all add up if you suddenly have to pay for them. We believe life insurance is important for women, as well as men - do your research before making a final decision.
4. Getting your nursery ready
If you’ve made a start on your Baby List, you’ll soon realise they need a lot of stuff. Some people get lucky with hand me downs from friends and family - often households can’t wait to get rid of these bulky items once they no longer need them! Whether it’s baby cots, buggies, car seats or change tables, save your partner some stress by getting these items organised ahead of time.
If you’re buying new, you may need to allow for assembly time of your cot and change table. And if you’re thinking about a fresh coat of paint in the nursery, that's a good thing to do in advance so your nursey can be clear of paint fumes before a baby needs it.
Some of your new baby gear might take a little practice to get the hang of, particularly if you’re suffering from sleep deprivation in the first few weeks of baby’s arrival. Make sure the car seat is installed properly before you head to the hospital or birthing centre, take your buggy for a test drive and practice folding and fitting it in your car, before you’re under pressure to take a crying baby out for a walk round the block!
5. Head along to maternity appointments and antenatal classes
Attending regular check-ups and antenatal classes can definitely help you feel part of your baby’s journey, and you’ll find yourself getting excited as you get closer to the delivery day. It’s pretty special to see your baby for the first time on an ultrasound, or hear your baby’s heartbeat.
The antenatal classes offer interesting information about your baby’s development, but also prepare you and your partner for life after your baby arrives. Offering practical, hands-on experience to change nappies, burp your baby, understand your birthing options and what happens during delivery are all important ways to support your partner and understand more about the pregnancy and delivery process.
The check-ups don’t stop once your baby is born. Your partner and baby will continue to have check-ups in the first few weeks and months. Additional moral support can be useful for those first vaccinations too.
6. Baby proofing your home
We know that your baby isn’t going to start crawling immediately, but it’s great to get ahead of home safety preparations. Sort out your childproof plug sockets and plan where you’ll need baby safety gates once your child is on the move. Thinking about staircase hazards and safe corners you can cordon off from family pets or older children are good things to consider early on, so you can purchase what you need. Plunket has a great guide on baby proofing your home.
7. Complete outstanding repairs and renovations
There is nothing worse than trying to get a baby to sleep while a builder starts up their power tools. Have a think about what repairs and renovations around your home need to be completed before your baby arrives. Believe it or not, you’ll have more time now than you will once your household grows. You might also find you’re spending more time at home with a young baby in the house, so get those outstanding jobs done.
8. Time for a spring clean
You’re about to have another human live in your house - a great time to clear out your spare room (you might need this as a nursery after all) and sort the junk in the garage while you’re at. The garage is often the perfect storage area for your baby buggy and other baby paraphernalia you’re waiting for baby to grow into, or out of.
It might also be a good way to make some extra cash for those new baby items you’ll need. Sell your quality items on Trade Me or Facebook Marketplace, and consider having a garage sale to sell off the rest of your unwanted items.
9. Understand your parental leave options
Different workplaces have different parental leave policies in place. Understand your government entitlements and any additional leave your company might have in place too. Between you and your partner, you may be able to juggle your parental leave so that you put off the need for childcare as long as possible.
Drawing up a budget and allowing for parental leave payments and any additional support you may be eligible for such as Working for Families payments can really help you get a feel for when you might have to head back to work. Allow for extra expenses such as nappies, formula and baby clothing, but also consider that you might not have the same social life as you did pre-baby. Some couples find they have cost savings in terms of entertainment.
Making a plan is important as a couple, but be open to changing circumstances and situations. Your baby may have poor health and not be suited to a daycare centre too early, or one of you might feel really strongly about staying home longer with your child. Keeping those communication channels open and honest will be really helpful to make the best decisions for your family, throughout your parenting journey.
10. Don’t sweat the small stuff
New parents are often overwhelmed with well-meaning advice. You’ll learn what advice feels right for your family over time, and also learn to ignore the advice that doesn’t make sense for you!
Our recent parenting survey highlighted the importance of trusting your own instincts, and not sweating the small stuff. You can help your partner with this too. As one of our Dads commented, “Relax, you are learning to parent as your children are learning to be children too.”
Let Cigna take care of the big things like Life Insurance
Getting ready for your new baby, and supporting your partner throughout this journey is important. But so is protecting your family’s future. Keen to know more about protecting your whanau? Use our simple calculator to help you work out how much cover you might need for your growing family. Get an instant quote for LifeOne life insurance online now, or have a chat to a Cigna adviser about tailoring a life insurance policy to suit you and your family.