Father with baby

So, You’re Becoming a Parent – For Fathers and Partners

Every day, nearly 400,000 men/partners in the world become the parent of a newborn baby. Although this momentous occasion is likely to be a source of joy and excitement for most, for just as many it will bring anxiety and worries about the future, while many may simply question whether they have what it takes to become a successful father/parent.

For some, worries about parenthood may at times feel overwhelming. How will I cope? Will my partner still have time for me? Will I be able to hold the baby without hurting her? Will I be able to afford to support my family? Will I be able to get enough sleep? Will my career suffer? Am I even the father? The list of worries you might feel as you approach parenthood is almost endless.

Here we look at some of the most common worries that fathers-to-be feel, to help you understand that you are not alone – the worries you are experiencing are completely normal and will pass.

Will I be able to cope with labour?

Almost every father-to-be will have worries about labour. The following are perhaps the two most common fears:

  • Will I be redundant?: As a new dad/parent, you may be secondary to the process of childbirth, but this is through no fault of your own – it is the way humans have evolved. However, a partner’s role during childbirth can be in offering support, by ensuring that obstetric staff adhere to your partner’s birth plan and by offering massage through labour.
  • Will I throw up or pass out?: This worry really is about facing the unknown. However, very few dads actually faint during their partner’s labour. It is a new experience and at times you are likely to become a little fearful and adrenalised, but if you’re anything like the vast majority of dads, you will get through it.

Will I be able to safely hold the baby?

Many new dads, particularly those who have had limited experience of babies and young children, fear that they will not be able to hold the baby without dropping it or harming it in some other accidental way. It is also common for dads-to-be to worry that they will harm the still soft parts of the baby’s skull. These are called the fontanelles and although they are delicate, they are more robust than you might imagine and will not be hurt by you simply stroking or touching them.

The fear that many dads-to-be may have about accidentally harming the baby may partly be explained by our collective perception of males and masculinity in our culture. Men, in contrast to women, are often seen as being “hard” and indelicate but there is another way of thinking about it: your fears may be a sign of your caring and cautious nature, which, let’s face it, is a useful quality if you are going to be responsible for the welfare and development of tiny new life.

If you know someone who has recently had a baby, ask them if you could hold it – don’t be frightened of it. Most people will be happy to let you make a fuss over their baby. Also, be sure to listen carefully to the instructions you will receive in your antenatal classes about safe holding techniques.

Will I ever sleep again?

The image of the half-demented, sleep-deprived new parent is so prevalent that it is almost a cliché, but like many clichés it has a strong basis in truth. According to one study, parents average just four hours and 44 minutes of sleep a night during the first twelve months of their baby’s life. This works out at 59 percent less nightly sleep than the recommended amount.

This inevitably can take a physical and emotional toll, but the truth is that the ordeal of sleeplessness is likely to be counterbalanced by the many joys of being a new parent. You will get through this, relatively, short period of your child’s life. However, if things become overwhelming, you can speak with your GP, mental health professional and friends and family about how you might be able to find some relief.

Will I have enough money?

Money is inevitably one of the major worries for fathers-to-be. This is likely to be true even for those in relatively comfortable financial positions. Over time you will have to contend with the cost of nappies, extra food, childcare, toys, clothes, bikes, extracurricular activities, larger vehicles, orthodontics and, eventually, rent, university fees and weddings. One day you may even find yourself in the position of becoming a board member of the Bank of Mum and Dad in order to help your child get on the property ladder.

Some of these things may seem very far away, but almost every dad-to-be will, at some point, think this far into the future; however, it is probably not useful to dwell on them too much at this stage. Instead, begin by budgeting for your baby’s immediate needs. Only put money aside for the future if you can truly afford to. And remember, for those in the most difficult financial positions – there is government help available.

Will my career suffer?

Given that you will almost certainly be sleeping less, will have more pressure to help at home and will generally have less time and energy, it is understandable if you worry about finding a healthy balance between the office and home life as a new parent. For a start, you should be aware that in the UK you are entitled to two week’s paternity pay as a new father at the statutory weekly rate of £140.98, or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower).

It is worth remembering that although there will be difficult periods of adjustment, you will almost certainly get through them while making fond memories at the same time. Having a new child can actually do wonders for your career. For many new dads, having a small child to care for gives them extra motivation to successfully clear career hurdles – a new child can prove to be the making of you in so many ways.

Will I still matter to my partner?

If you are about to become a dad/parent for the first time, you may have ambivalent feelings about the impending birth’s impact on your relationship with your partner. This is entirely understandable. For the duration of your relationship, the two of you have been exclusively the most important people in each other’s lives. However, now you must face up to a new person entering into the mix, your new child. It may be useful to accept that you may feel like the third wheel in the immediate days and weeks after the birth; it is inevitable that the mother’s and child’s needs take precedence during this period.

It can take time for certain things to come back; such as intimacy, nights out and other things you and your partner used to do together. However, by being patient and selfless now, you can only benefit your relationship for the long-term and it’s likely to help you eventually make a smoother and quicker transition to the return of a more normal relationship. Be strong and supportive now and not only will you still matter to your partner, you may serve to earn her further, respect, love and admiration.

Am I really the father?

Around half of all fathers-to-be will at some stage have worries about whether they are the baby’s biological father. This is a normal part of the process of coming to terms with impending fatherhood and is likely to say as much about your fears of the unknown as it does about your partner’s fidelity. In fact, the rate of false paternity in the UK is likely to be between one and three in every hundred births, so unless you have specific concerns, it is likely that your worries are misplaced.


Becoming a new father/parent is a time of excitement and anticipation, but it is also one of worry and occasionally even dread about the uncertain future. If your feelings of dread become overwhelming or you are struggling to look forward to the future, you should speak with your GP or mental health professional. However, for the most part your worries are likely to be normal and will simply be a reflection of how seriously you are taking the prospect of parenthood.

Important – If you or your child are unwell you should seek medical advice from a professional – contact your GP or visit an A&E department in an emergency. While My BabyManual strives to provide dependable and trusted information on pregnancy and childcare 24/7 via our website pages, we cannot provide individual answers to specific healthcare questions.