So you've been told you're going to be a dad. You might think there's nothing you can do just yet, but it's never too early to start bonding with your baby.
Once you get over the shock that yes, you are going to be someone's father, the next step in the evolution of dud to dad is bonding with the baby. I've read dozens of books on pregnancy, birth and parenting - and as I'm a man, you can imagine the looks I get on the treadmill at the gym as I flick through the classics (Baby Love, A History of Birth and Feeding the Bump among them). While they're all fabulous resources full of great information, none give much real estate to men and the importance of bonding with the baby in utero. So if the Australian government is willing to give me a few million and a team of researchers, I’m certain I could prove my view that getting men to bond earlier with their baby would be enormously beneficial to their partner, their baby and the nation as a whole.
I’ve given this bonding caper a great deal of thought, and have come to the conclusion that we need to consider the workings of the male mind to solve the problem. In order to process information effectively, we blokes need:
- Evidence that something exists (tangibility)
- Identification of a problem that could require our skills to solve or fix
- A good reason to be bothered to work on said problem
- Positive feedback that we're on the right track
- An outcome in a fairly short period of time.
When applying this to pregnancy and bonding with the baby we can use the same process:
Step 1: Prove a baby exists with ultrasounds, growing a belly, complaints of unusual ailments and cravings.
Step 2: Make the man in your life understand that the baby needs help to grow. He can play a role in this through nutrition, exercise and making your life easier in general.
Step 3: Demonstrate how his efforts will help develop a healthy baby (eg, rave about his healthy cooking and how it makes you and the baby feel great).
Step 4: Pointing out further signs of growth, baby movement and foetal feedback. Now you can start naming the baby and talking/interacting with it.
Step 5: Being there to assist with the birth.
Boil it down and what I’m really getting at is that in order to bond with his baby, your bloke needs to feel like an integral part of the process - a co-driver in the Bathurst 1000, not a spectator drinking beer on the top of Mount Panorama. The key ingredients to this are:
- Attending the ultrasounds and doctor appointments
- Getting into the kitchen and cooking food for you and the baby
- Exercising with you (yes, bedroom exercise can count too!)
- Coming up with a nickname for the baby and starting to interact through talking and music
- Understanding how he can help you (and his baby) at birth
And there you have it - the basics for how to get your bloke bonding with your baby even before the birth. Have fun, and good luck!