If you're the man involved in a pregnancy that the woman has decided to continue, the thought of becoming a dad may be very daunting and overwhelming. You may feel many different and competing feelings - joy, sadness, anxiety and excitement.
Remember that for the woman going through the pregnancy there will be a range of changes to her body and hormones. This may cause her to feel worried, anxious, irritable, sad or happy. Try to be as supportive as possible during this time.
There will be many changes for you and also your relationship. Your relationship will change, regardless of whether you are a couple or not. It is extremely important that you both maintain a healthy relationship and be respectful of each other. This is a time of change and challenge so it is important to be aware of your feelings and find ways to deal with your concerns.
To help yourself prepare, talk to the pregnant woman herself but also talk to other fathers, your parents or grandparents - anyone you trust and who you think will help you prepare to become a father.
As having a child introduces a new person into your relationships it can help to think about your relationship and parenting. Some practical questions to think about are:
- Will you remain or become a couple?
- Will you be co-parenting?
- How involved do you want to be?
- What support will you provide and how will you do that?
- What do you want to do or achieve for yourself before the baby arrives?
- What will your living arrangements be when the baby arrives?
- What supports do you each have from friends or family?
- How will you manage financially?
- What about education, training or employment?
- How will your relationship cope?
Rights and responsibilities
Becoming a dad can be very rewarding but it also brings with it responsibilities. You have the responsibility to financially and emotionally care for your child. You have a responsibility to be present in your child’s life and ensure that your child’s needs are met.
You have the responsibility to ensure that your child is safe and well cared for and is free from harm. You have the responsibility to make decisions that are in the best interest of your child.
With these responsibilities come rights as a father. You have the right to know your child and to participate in your child’s life. You also have specific rights regarding custody and access to the child.
Every family is different and children are raised successfully in a wide range of relationships. If you work on arranging a stable routine and try to ensure that you and your child have a good support network from people that you trust, your relationship can grow stronger through parenting.
If you are struggling it is important to seek help with your emotions, and maybe speak to a professional.
MensLine Australia: 24 hour telephone support, information and referral service, helping men to deal with relationship problems in a practical and effective way. Call 1300 78 99 78 or visit their website.
Lifeline: 24 hour telephone counselling and information service for anyone, at anytime and from anywhere in Australia for just the cost of a local call. Lifeline also works to help prevent suicide. Call 131 114 or visit their website.
Young Parents Programs: there are also a number of young parents programs that can help build your parenting skills and support you in other ways. Ask your local youth service for details of programs in your area.
You can contact us for information and counselling on pregnancy options.