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Cheat Sheet

Dad’s Guide to Pregnancy For Dummies

From Dad's Guide To Pregnancy For Dummies, 2nd Edition by Mathew Miller, Sharon Perkins

Becoming a dad is both an exhilarating and a terrifying experience. Planning ahead and being prepared are the best ways to handle what’s coming up in the next nine months and beyond. Doing what you can ahead of time, such baby-proofing your house and packing your hospital bag, will save precious time later on and help you feel like you’re in control (at least a little bit). After the baby arrives, all bets are off as far as feeling in control, but you can still be prepared to take an active role in caring for your newborn and supporting your partner during the postpartum period.

Scheduling Prenatal Visits and Tests

A pregnant woman has more prenatal doctor’s appointments than you’d ever expect, but the checkups are necessary to monitor her health and the growth and health of the baby. To screen for complications, the obstetrician (OB) performs different tests on the mother and baby at various stages of the pregnancy, and the following chart lists what to expect when:

Weeks Possible Tests
6 to 8 Blood type, rubella titer, blood counts, HIV antibody, syphilis, hepatitis screen, ultrasound
10 to 12 Doppler detection of fetal heart; chorionic villus sampling, if planned
11 to 14 First trimester screen/Nuchal translucency
15 to 18 Second trimester serum screen (quad screen), amniocentesis if absolutely necessary
18 to 22 Ultrasound (and the best time to determine baby’s sex if you and your partner are interested in doing so)
24 to 28 Gestational diabetes screen
28 to 36 Biweekly visits to check blood pressure, weight, urine, and fetal growth
36 to 40 Weekly visits, same as weeks 28 to 36, with a check for fetal positioning
40+ Twice-weekly visits to test fetal stress

A Dad’s Bag-Packing Checklist for the Hospital

Pack a bag for the hospital in advance so that when your pregnant partner goes into labor, you’ll be ready to race out the door without worrying about finding deodorant and a phone charger. Your mind will be focused on the labor and new baby, so if you aren’t prepared in advance, you’ll probably forget items you wish you had. A couple of weeks before the due date, pack a bag with the following items for both you and your partner:

  • Toiletries, including a razor

  • Pajamas

  • Two changes of clothes

  • Baby clothes, including one outfit for formal pictures

  • Change for vending machines

  • Cash for parking

  • Menus and phone numbers for favorite delivery foods

  • Snacks

  • Pillow and blanket

  • Camera

  • Video camera, if desired and allowed by hospital/clinic

  • Insurance cards

  • Cell phone and charger

  • MP3 player/laptop (for entertainment)

If you have to use any of the items before you go to the hospital, be sure to put them back in the bag when you’re done.

And don’t forget to make sure you have the car seat properly installed in your vehicle so you can take baby home!

A Baby-Proofing Checklist

Not all safety measures need to be in place by the time baby comes home from the hospital. But before the first six months are up, you’ll need to make sure to baby-proof with some basic safeguards installed in the following areas of your home:

  • Stairways: Install baby gates at the top and bottom. Never use a pressure-mounted baby gate at the top of the stairs, because it may fail. Instead, opt for the wall-mounted variety.

  • Window blinds: Trim (or better yet, remove) cords altogether to make sure they will be out of reach for years to come.

  • Windows: If your windows are older, install child-proof locks. Never leave a child unattended around an open window — not even one with a screen, because it can’t support a child’s weight.

  • Outlets: Insert plastic guards into all sockets below hip level. For often-used outlets, consider sliding outlet covers for easier access.

  • Doors: When baby starts walking, install knob guards on the bathroom door and any door leading outside. Also, plastic guards that fit over the top of accordion doors will prevent pinched or cut fingers.

  • Bathroom: A toilet seat lock is a must, but for further protection, always keep your bathroom door closed when possible. Faucet covers on the bathtub will keep baby’s mouth and head safe in case of a slip. Apply nonslip mats for extra precaution. And, of course, never leave your child unattended around water. To prevent burns, make sure your water heater is set to 120 degrees or less.

  • Kitchen: Install cabinet locks, door locks, and oven knob covers to make it impossible for a child to turn on the burners. Add straps to the oven door to keep a child from opening it. Cook on the back burner when baby is present. Put adhesive locks on the refrigerator (and the freezer, if it’s within reach).

  • Sharp edges: On tables, countertops, and your bed, apply corner and table edge cushions to prevent head lacerations that often require stitches.

Dad's Guide to New Baby: Checking Diaper Contents

Knowing how much food a breast-fed baby is getting is very difficult, especially when your partner is just starting out. To make sure baby is getting enough milk, keep track of wet and poopy diapers for the first week, taking note of the number and type of soiled diapers. Comparing your notes to the following norms can put your mind at ease or can alert you to a breast-feeding issue that may need attention:

  • Every day, baby should dirty 8 to 12 diapers total.

  • On day 1, poop should resemble black tar.

  • On day 2, poop should look like brown/black tar.

  • On day 3, poop should begin to be greenish.

  • On day 4, poop should change to greenish yellow.

  • On days 5 to 7, poop should be yellow.

Contact your child’s pediatrician if any of the following situations occur:

  • You see dark-colored urine after day 3.

  • You see blackish stools after day 4.

  • Baby has fewer than 8 wet or poopy diapers on any day.

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