If this is your first child, you may be filled with questions! Even if you have done this before, you may feel anxious or nervous. This is totally normal! We’ve addressed some of the more common concerns and questions that dads have when expecting a new child.

Can I have sex with my partner during pregnancy?

In general, the answer is YES! It is completely safe for women who are experiencing a healthy pregnancy to have sex. You will not hurt the baby! Many couples find the increased freedom from family planning (she’s already pregnant!), increased circulation and sensitivity in the genitals and breasts, and the rounded pregnant form to be very sexy indeed. However, keep in mind that as your partner’s body changes, she may be experiencing discomfort that will make sex temporarily less pleasurable for her. Her breasts may swell to two-three times their normal size and while you may want to explore these new toys, they can be very sensitive and painful. Nausea and vomiting would cause anyone to feel out of sorts, as do the aches and pains of carrying a growing baby. Your partner may also not feel very sexy as her waistline expands and she has swollen hands and feet. Do your best to be sensitive to her needs, and understanding when she isn’t “in the mood.” Back and foot rubs, hugs and cuddling, helping with household chores, and the reassurance that you love and admire her new shape are great ways to show affection.

I worry my partner will love the baby more than me.

It is true, mum will spend a lot of time with your baby. She will carry him for 9 months and if she is the primary carer, she will spend the majority of her days with him in close, intimate contact. You may begin to feel left out, and it is important to share these feelings with your partner in a non-confrontational way. Although her attention may be fixated on your new child, she is probably not intentionally ignoring you or leaving you out. She may feel overwhelmed with all the responsibilities that come with being a new mum and is trying to do the best she can! Help her out with the care of your baby, and set aside time each week, if possible, for some one-on-one time with her. It is important to maintain harmony in your relationship and to continue to show affection for one another. Having a child certainly changes the dynamic in a household, but it doesn’t mean that someone has to get the boot. It is often said that the addition of a child means that “love multiplies, not divides.” There is plenty of love to go around.

What if the baby doesn’t like me?

This is EVERY parent’s nightmare. However, if you make a real effort to be a part of your child’s life, he or she will know and understand your love for them and will give it in return. And you can start now! Studies have shown that babies recognise voices from within the womb. Talk to your child. Sing to her! Tell her how anxious you are to meet her when she arrives. The sound of your voice will become familiar and comforting, and will help you grow closer to your partner as you take an active role in getting to know your baby before she is even born. Mums have an advantage because they are literally connected to their children from the moment of conception, but dads can form a special bond too. When your baby arrives, share the responsibilities of changing nappies, calming, and playing with your child, and putting her to sleep. Experience skin-to-skin contact with your baby on your chest. Don’t hand the baby back to mum at the first sign of a whimper, but try your hand at soothing her cries and give mum a break. You won’t ever carry a baby in your body, but you can carry her in your arms and in your heart for the rest of your life.

I have no idea how to take care of a baby!

If you’ve never had a baby or younger siblings to take care of, how would you know? From changing nappies and feeding, to rocking and soothing, there are all sorts of new skills that you can learn. Taking courses on childbirth and early parenting can help you feel more comfortable, but you should consider parenthood a position that comes with on-the-job training. You may accidentally put nappies on backward or buy the wrong brand of rash cream, but THAT’S OKAY! Babies are resilient creatures, and they won’t remember that time you dressed them in one of your t-shirts because they’d soiled all of their own clothes. You may do things differently than your partner, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you are doing it wrong. Most every new father feels nervous and inadequate, but you can learn how to care for your child. Talk to other dads whom you admire or your own father for that matter. No one is perfect at being a dad—it takes time and effort.

I feel like I am never going to sleep again.

Truth–there is probably no one more sleep-deprived than a new parent. If you have to slog out the door to work each day, feeling like a ton of bricks, you may be a bit jealous of your partner staying home. Don’t. She is probably just as sleep-deprived as you are! Even if she is able to catch a nap in the middle of the day while baby is sleeping, the bulk of the night-time wakings are probably up to her if she’s breastfeeding. Sleep deprivation tends to bring out the worst in everyone as tempers are short and tensions are high. So what can you do? First, recognize that EVENTUALLY your baby will sleep through the night. It may not seem like it right now, but children usually establish pretty regular sleep patterns by a year to 18 months. Second, catch sleep when you can! If this means heading to bed earlier than normal or taking a nap with baby on your chest, make it happen. Third, try not to blow your top. You and your partner should be in it for the long haul–don’t let the sleepless nights turn you into sparring partners.

What if I lose my temper?

Sleep-deprivation, anxiety about finances, and the constant crying of a baby can cause anyone to go mad. If you feel yourself coming undone, take a break! Set your child down in a safe place and walk away for a while. You should never, EVER, hit or shake your child. Shaken Baby Syndrome  causes irreparable damage to a baby’s brain. You owe it to yourself, your baby, and your partner to calm down. Don’t take your anger out on anyone in your family. If you are struggling with violent thoughts or actions, walk away and find help. The Family Violence Information Line (0800 456 450) is available seven days a week from 9am to 11pm and offers self-help information and can connect you with counseling services to manage your anger and frustration. The website, Great Fathers, also offers useful advice on how to better manage relationships with your partner and child.

How will I afford another mouth to feed?

Fortunately for you, maternity care, birth, and early postnatal care is covered by the Ministry of Health  for New Zealand residents. You and your partner may also be eligible for paid parental leave. You are also probably eligible for a Tax Credit with the new addition to your family. You can also avail yourself of free financial planning  and budgeting help. There are also many community organisations that can help out with clothing and baby equipment. The bottom line is, don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you are struggling to make ends meet and having difficulty providing for your family, that doesn’t make you any less of a man. We all go through rough patches, and the services are there to help those who need a leg up.