Becoming a dad during the COVID-19 pandemic

Congratulations on becoming a dad! This is an exciting time for you and your family –your baby will be here soon! It’s very common to have lots of questions, especially as you anticipate how to deal with being a new dad in the middle of a pandemic.

Lots of things happen to your partner during pregnancy. Her body changes to make room for a growing baby. She may be moody and tired. She may be worried about becoming a mom. She needs to know you’re there for her and that you’re in this pregnancy together. Here’s what you can do:

Go to her prenatal care checkups with her, if possible.

Prenatal care is medical care to check the health of your partner and the baby during pregnancy. These days, many prenatal care appointments are over video, also called telehealth or telemedicine. This can make it even easier for you to be with her during her visit. Make sure you ask questions about pregnancy and your baby.

There are times when appointments need to be in person. Make sure your partner goes to all her prenatal care checkups, even if she’s feeling fine. If she’s afraid about going to her provider’s office because of COVID-19, help her find answers. Call her provider or encourage her to call and ask how they are keeping patients safe. Providers are making sure they are taking all the needed precautions to protect their patients from COVI-19. Ask the provider how you can participate in an in-office visit. Ask if you can be physically there or if they can video call you during the appointment. 

Help her cope with stress and anxiety.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way daily life looks for all of us. You may be coping with a lot of new things, changes related to dealing with the pandemic and those related to becoming new parents. This can cause anxiety. Here are some tips that may help you cope:

  • Keep up-to-date with the latest information related to the pandemic, but make sure you have breaks from the news.
  • Do something active every day with your partner. Physical activity can help reduce stress.
  • Be aware of your feelings. If you are feeling easily irritated, angry, anxious, or having a hard time sleeping, it may be time to discuss these symptoms with your provider. Men can get depressed too, but the symptoms of depression in men may be different than the symptoms women have. If this happens to you, talk to your provider.  Your provider may be able to help connect you with a social worker, counselor, or therapist who offers tele-therapy or mental health services online. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has a NAMI HelpLine Coronavirus Information and Resources Guide. If you noticed your partner is feeling sad, cries a lot or seems anxious, she may need to talk to her provider to figure out if she may be depressed.  

Talk about what you want to happen at your baby’s birth.

You may have thought about having friends and family with you, but due to COVID-19, this may not be possible. Most hospitals and certified birth centers allow one support person during labor and delivery. March of Dimes supports the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) to allow one birthing partner to support women in labor. Experts agree that having a support person during labor leads to better health outcomes. Find out what rules your hospital or birthing center has related to supporting persons during labor.

Talk to your partner about having a birth plan.

This is a set of instructions you make about your baby’s birth. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected so many women’s birth plans. We have updated our birth plan template to meet the new needs you and your partner may have during this pandemic.  Fill out a birth plan with your partner. You can find a birth plan to fill out at marchofdimes.org/birthplan

Prepare to take time off from work if you can.

Your company may offer paternity leave. This means you can take time off from work when your baby is born. Ask your human resources person at work about paternity leave. 

If you are working from home, if possible, take time off to take care of yourself and your baby. It’s easy to think that “working from home” is comparable to “being at home,” but it isn’t. Working from home will keep you busy. Because you’re busy, you may not be able to help or be part of your baby’s routine, which can be frustrating. Having time off can help you spend time with your new baby and create a healthy bond.

For more information, visit marchofdimes.org/becomingadad

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