Information for fathers and partners

So, you're going to be a dad! You may experience a huge range of emotions when you find out you will become a father. Feelings of joy and happiness are common; but feelings of uncertainty and fear are just as normal.

  • Will our baby be healthy?
  • Can we cope on one wage? We'll never have any money again.
  • Is the house big enough?
  • I don't know anything about babies. I won't know what to do.
  • Everyone keeps telling me my life is over. I'll never see my mates again.
  • How will the pregnancy affect my relationship?

Worries such as these are perfectly normal when you are adjusting to your new role as a father. Some may be well founded, others not. Talking about these things will enable you and your partner to feel more prepared. 

The following videos have been created to help with some of these questions and feelings you may have.


The birth of your baby

Childbirth can be joyful, unpredictable, and overall a physically and mentally exhausting event. You play an active role in your child's birth—an important aspect of your presence during birth is to be a support person and advocate for your partner. You can assist your partner by encouraging, reassuring, and helping to make choices or decisions in childbirth. 

It is also important to remember to be flexible, and prepared to adapt if things don't go to plan. Ask questions so you understand what is going on and whether there is anything you can do to help.

Supporting your partner

Becoming a father is one of the most important, difficult and rewarding things you will ever do, and more often than not, it is the role men are least prepared for.

Traditionally, fathers have been responsible for discipline and setting rules in the family, while mothers did most of the caring. Unfortunately, this has led to a belief by many men that women were solely responsible for parenting. Today, there is greater acknowledgement of a father’s role in the pregnancy, birth and parenting of a child, and there is no clear difference between men’s and women’s roles. As a result, it is not uncommon for new fathers’ to feel unsure about what is expected of them.

There is no single recipe for being a father. The reality is that you will learn as you go, getting to know your baby's individual personality and temperament, and doing what's right for you according to your personal, family and cultural circumstances.

While parenting can be done by either parent, children still have different experiences with their fathers than with their mothers. Fathering is not the same as parenting. Children are lucky if they know they are loved and cared for by both parents. Many fathers know what they don’t want to do from memories of their own childhoods, but they aren’t sure what they should do.

How you work it out will depend on:

  • what you expect to do as a father
  • what your child's mother expects
  • what your partner expects if she is not your child's mother
  • the way you and your partner balance work and family responsibilities—how you prioritise your children and family
  • the good things that you want to keep from what your own father did
  • the things that you see other fathers do
  • what your own children want and need.

The most important gift you can give your children is your love. This means getting to know them and sharing who you are as a person. It means spending time with them and making the most of that time you spend with them.


Breastfeeding has many advantages—to your baby, to your partner and to you. Breast milk contains all the nutrients needed by your baby for the first six months of life, in exactly the right amounts, and remains the most important part of an infant’s diet for twelve months.

Human milk contains antibodies which protect your baby from gastrointestinal and respiratory illnesses. Breast milk reduces the risk for your baby in the development of allergies and insulin dependant diabetes. It is less work and is always the right temperature and consistency.

Breastfeeding also offers health benefits for your partner with a reduced risk of post menopausal breast cancer, ovarian cancer and osteoporosis.

Most mothers make a decision about how they will feed their baby before they become pregnant or during pregnancy, and you are a very influential person in that decision. There is a clear body of evidence that where a couple have made a joint commitment to breastfeed their baby before birth, the mother is more likely to successfully establish and maintain breastfeeding.

If your partner is expressing any reservations about breastfeeding, discuss her concerns to help her make an informed choice based on accurate information. If your partner expresses any doubt whatsoever about her ability to breastfeed or her supply of milk, you can help by telling her how well she's doing, reminding her of the benefits of breastfeeding, and by helping her find accurate and complete information to remove any doubt. Don’t underestimate your ability to help your partner to successfully breastfeed.

Your midwife, obstetrician, antenatal classes and the Australian Breastfeeding Association are excellent resources in this regard.

Sex and intimacy

Following birth, the hormone levels in a woman’s body signal it to produce and release milk and contract the uterus. As a result of the changes and adjustments birth brings, your partner may temporarily lose interest in sexual intercourse. This can happen whether the woman is breastfeeding or formula feeding. Many men become closely involved in the breastfeeding experience and spend time lying or sitting near the mother, sharing the enjoyment of a baby breastfeeding.

The natural slipperiness of the vagina may not be present at the beginning of the breastfeeding experience; there are products available (e.g. KY jelly) which help lubricate the vagina. Be sensitive to your partners needs as she gains confidence in breastfeeding and recovers from the birth and interrupted sleep.

There are other ways of showing your love—a kiss, a hug, holding hands, etc. Take things slowly and talk to one another. 

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For urgent assessment at any stage of your pregnancy, please present to your nearest emergency centre or Mater Mothers’ 24/7 Pregnancy Assessment Centre in South Brisbane.

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