You’re a guy of the 21st Century and one of your male work colleagues suddenly announces he’s going to be a dad.
- a) Thump him on the back, congratulate him then change the subject?
- b) Ignore him, what’s that got to do with anything?
- c) Immediately start organising his paternity gift and Manshower?
You may not be aware of it yet but answer C is fast becoming the norm. Until around the 1960s most ‘dads to be’ had one job to do – then nine months later hit the pub to wet the baby’s head. From the 70s onwards the presence of dads in the labour wards rose steadily. Big lumps of men stood around looking uncomfortable whilst queasily gripping their poor spouse’s hand. Fast-forward to 2019 and more and more couples are choosing to go through every aspect of their pregnancy journey together which means recognition in some quarters for the male supporting role in a pregnancy duo is growing as fast as the bump.
What has Changed and Why?
We all agree that generally speaking the act of conception is a joint endeavour yet let’s be honest – once a man makes his contribution, the woman is left to all the biological hard work of growing the tiny sprog. Appreciation by men today on how pregnancy and birth affects their partners is increasing all the time thanks in no small way to the internet. Want to know when your partner may stop having morning sickness? No problem just log into your search engine! Knowledge is not just power – it’s understanding.
Today it’s also about teamwork! Couples through choice or necessity may both hold down equally important full-time jobs. Even before a baby comes along there has to be a certain amount of give and take built into the relationship for it to flourish. A true couple-team will share household tasks, pet care, shopping, cooking, gardening and much more. Strange as it may sound, having a baby can be just another logistic to add to the mix and will be researched to the ‘nth’ degree.
Dad to be Role
A ‘dad to be’ is the major supporting role in a cast of two. For both parents pregnancy is an emotional road of discovery especially with the first born. Where a dad to be might feel helpless at times because he doesn’t have all the answers, mum to be has an unpredictable hormone soup swirling around that could for instance make her yearn for marmite sarnie at 3am in the morning. The male role there is simple – go and buy the marmite!
The important thing is that each recognises the individual and joint responsibilities throughout the nine months pregnancy. Main areas of support by the dad to be usually encompass:
- Attending ante-natal appointments, scans and follow-ups together where possible.
- Becoming informed on what to expect in the first, second and third trimesters to prepare for what’s ahead.
- Joining ante-natal classes together
- Cooking and eating healthy meals together and exercising together (take walks or do yoga, etc. per doctor’s recommendations)
- The physical demands that fall on a partner means she will require more rest and especially appreciate proactive help around the home and/or any help related to the pregnancy or with preparing for the baby.
In the UK over 90% of all fathers take paternity leave with some also using additional annual leave entitlement. Acknowledgement of the male role in pregnancy, birth and beyond as a vital element is increasingly accepted by society yet paternity entitlement is still fairly low. According to studies in the UK, a father who takes paternity leave is strongly associated with the mother’s well-being three months after the birth, (Redshaw & Henderson, 2013). Also UK fathers who take formal leave are 25% more likely to change nappies and 19% more likely to feed their 8-12 month old babies and to get up to them at night (Tanaka and Waldfogel, 2007).
Paternity Leave Entitlement
- An expectant father in the UK must have worked continuously for their employer for 26 weeks ending with the 15th week before the baby is due to qualify for paternity leave.
- The father can take 1 or 2 weeks paternity leave and will receive £145.18 per week in tax year 2018/19 – or 90% of average earnings – whichever is lower. Leave can start on the day the baby is born or later if preferred.
- Fathers are entitled to unpaid time off during working hours to accompany their partner to two ante-natal appointments, not exceeding 6.5 hours per appointment.
Shared Paternity Leave
- Eligible parents can exchange part of their leave for Shared Parental Leave. In the UK new mums receive up to 52 weeks maternity leave but since 2015 they have been able to transfer all but the first two weeks of their maternity leave to their partners.
- This option is becoming more popular to give parents flexibility in how they share the care of their baby in the first year.
Paternity Gifts & Manshowers
Going back to the title of this article – there is certainly a case for buying a male colleague a paternity gift before he leaves to help with the new arrival’s care. Men are also not shy in buying a baby-shower or newborn gift for relatives, friends and colleagues.
Here at Little Bundle Box, approximately 25% of 2018 baby gift purchases were by men.
In the USA the newest trend in baby showers is to host both a traditional baby shower for new mums, and a “dadchelor” party for new dads. For dads this can be anything from a round of golf and a drink to a full on party with games.
In the UK it’s often the case now for baby showers to be a joint event for the parents, which further acknowledges the fact parents are sharing responsibilities more than ever before. Workplaces will also hold ‘Paternity Parties’ or baby showers for male colleagues. The upcoming birth of a baby is so special, it’s becoming commonplace for companies to treat the upcoming father to baby gifts and drinks before the baby arrived. At Little Bundle Box we frequently receive orders for paternity gifts from our corporate customers.
Seeing men with tiny babies in carriers or pushing prams is now commonplace in the UK. If you need further evidence of male parent involvement just look when Prince William left the hospital holding his first born in a car seat. Hands on dads are here to stay.