Welcoming Baby: Keeping dads involved

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Posted Thursday, May 29, 2014 --- 4:40 p.m.

"I love being a dad. It is the greatest thing ever," says Dr. Christopher Harkin, a Meriter Family Medicine doctor, "There is nothing like the birth of your child. You will feel overwhelmed and you won't know to cry or to laugh, but every moment is just a joy."

Dr. Harkin says it's important for dad to attend appointments with mom leading up to the birth.

"The more you can be there and the more you can be involved, the more you will feel like this is a big part of your life," he explains.

That's because often it's difficult for dads to feel involved.

"Your wife is going through so many changes, so you just have to be there, be attentive to her needs and just be ready to help whenever possible," says Harkin.

"Some things are happening with dad, too," says Joey Donovan Guido, a father and facilitator of Meriter's "Dad's Day" class, "It's been proven that dad's chemistry changes when he knows he's going to be a dad, so his hormones are changing too."

The Dad's Day class is based on Guido's blog "Daddy Brain", which he started after some personal struggles.

"I was feeling depressed. I was feeling isolated, and I was feeling very sad," recalls Guido, "I started looking for support for myself, and I couldn't find it. One of the major topics of the workshop is dad's emotional life and helping dads acknowledge that these emotions are okay to have and they're okay to talk about."

Guido also says it's time to change the perception that dad is a secondary parent.

"Most of the time guys are supposed to think about beer and sports, right?" he says jokingly, "But there's more to men than just those simplistic things."

And Dr. Harkin agrees, "Fathers are just as important as mothers are. We now live in a world where both fathers and mothers are working, both parents feel a lot of pressures to try and make sure that their families have everything that they need. Part of that is taking an active role in parenting."

Guido says one great way for dad and baby to bond is if dad talks to baby in utero. He suggests going to the store, alone, picking out a book you want to read to your child, and then every night read to your baby and your wife.

Meriter offers a number of classes for new moms and dads to help them adjust to being a parent. Here are two good ones to check out:

Meriter class: Dad's Day

Meriter class: Mother Baby Hour

And Guido's blog Daddy Brain can be found here:

Daddy Brain