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About to become a dad?

Monday, June 13, 2016

Feature

Becoming a dad is a big deal, no matter how old you are.

There’s lot to think about and decide before a baby is born. It’s very normal to feel like it’s all bit much.

To get you started, here are a few things to think about and talk about with the baby’s mother.

Getting ready for the baby’s arrival

  • Get a room or space sorted for the baby to sleep.
  • Find out about hiring or buying a car seat if you have a car,
  • You’ll need some other baby gear such as a pushchair and somewhere for the baby to sleep. A pēpi pod might be an option.  
  • If the baby is going to be born at a hospital or birthing centre, work out how you’re going to get there. Babies are often born in the middle of the night.

Supporting the mother

There are some things you can do to support your partner/ex. Being pregnant can be difficult and tiring for her, as her body and hormones change.

  • Go to antenatal classes (classes about childbirth) with your partner/ex, and find out about any parenting classes you could go to together.
  • Visit the lead maternity carer with her – this is the person who will be there when the baby is born. If you can, also attend any scans or tests during the pregnancy.
  • Try to help with cooking, washing and transport, especially in the last stages of pregnancy.
  • Talk to your partner/ex about breastfeeding. If she wants to breastfeed, support her in her decision. Breastfeeding is good for a baby’s health, and if you support your partner, she will be likely to breastfeed for longer.

Preparing yourself

  • Find out about the changes your partner/ex will go through, and what to expect during the birth. The more you know about what is happening, the more you’ll feel able to help.  You could talk to your partner/ex, whānau, other parents or health professionals.
  • Talk about caring for the baby once it’s born.  If you work, will you take parental leave from work? You could take it all at once, or split it over a few weeks – talk to your employer about how this will work.
  • If you smoke, try not to smoke around your pregnant partner/ex, or around the baby when it is born.

Sorting out your money

If your partner/ex is in paid work, she will have to stop work as she gets close to giving birth, and may not return to work for some time. This can make it hard financially, and might cause some tension between you and your partner/ex.

  • Try to work out a budget, and work out what spending you can cut out – you will probably have to give up  some things.
  • If you’re thinking about doing extra shifts, or taking on another job, talk with your partner first. It might be better to spend time with your family - earning money is not the only way to provide for your child, and providing love and support is equally important.
  • If you’re unemployed, studying, or finding it difficult to make ends meet, you can contact Work and Income New Zealand to see what additional benefits are available to you as young parents.

Being the legal father  

By the time the baby is born, you might not be in a relationship with the mother anymore. If this is the case, you and your ex will need to try and agree on how you will be involved in your child’s life.

  • You may need some legal or other support to come to an agreement about what your role will be and what level of support your former partner may need.            
  • If you want to be legally recognised as the father, it is important to get your name on the birth certificate. This may make it easier for you to have contact with your child if your partner doesn’t want you to.  However, you will have to make child support payments if you are named as the baby’s father.  The law says you are legally and financially responsible for the child until they turn 19.
  • Remember, no matter how bad things might get with the mother, it’s ok to want a relationship with your child.

Final tips

Don’t let other people’s comments get you down - young men can make very good fathers. It’s your actions, not your age, which count. If you show you are committed to your baby, people will respect your determination.

  • Keep talking to each other – be honest about how you’re feeling. It’s likely that your partner/ex is feeling just as nervous as you are!
  • Being a young dad is much easier with the support of both families, so try to involve both of your families.
  • Enjoy the time with your partner before the baby is born! Treat yourselves and do something fun together.

More information       

Being a parent can be difficult, but remember there are lots of organisations here to help you.

Family Planning has clinics located throughout New Zealand. Use the clinic finder to find your nearest clinic.

Find a clinic

Visits are free if you are under
22 (NZ residents only)

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