Well, as the father of the world’s cutest five-month-old girl, I suppose I can pass a few things along.
On Pregnancy: don’t try to be “tough”. If you’re hurting, your body is trying to tell you something, so pay attention. Don’t tell yourself, “well, all women have pain and discomfort when they’re pregnant, I should just suck it up.” My wife did that for a while, until we figured out that she had shingles, which was causing severe nerve pain on top of being pregnant. Also, don’t brush off symptoms like swelling, because it can indicate problems that go deeper than having thick ankles. I’m not saying this to scare you; I’m just saying that you should be aware of your body and tell your doctor about any issues you’re having, because all these things are treatable or have solutions.
On babies: they’re funny. No one told me they’re funny. Enjoy the funniness. Now, for useful advice: after the birth, you’ll be surrounded by friends, family, and various well-wishers, at the hospital and at home. What with a newborn’s erratic sleep schedule, entertaining these people is a real burden. Don’t be too proud to say, “Whew, she’s asleep, I have GOT to take a nap. Do you want to watch her, or do you want to come back later?” You need sleep, and that takes priority over being accommodating to all the post-birth oglers. If you have to be rude, do it; they’ll write it off to hormone fluctuations and forget about it later.
One thing our pediatrician told us that rings very true is, “She’s the boss.” Don’t feel like you must feed the baby according to a strict schedule. If you wake the baby up every three hours for a feeding, all you’re doing is teaching her to get hungry every three hours. Feed when she’s hungry, change when she’s dirty, and enjoy her when she’s awake.
You can’t have enough bibs, sleepers, burp cloths, and onesies. Stock up. You don’t have to spend a fortune, they come in multi-packs.
Start lining up daycare and a pediatrician. Ask your friends who already have children, they know who’s good.
Get a video camera. There will be moments and sounds that you want to have forever, and at the hospital, under the influence of drugs, you might not remember them.
Don’t feel like you have to spend tons of money to get the best of everything. My daughter has grown out of outfits that she never even wore. That’s just a waste.
If you’re planning to breastfeed, look into renting a medical-grade breast pump. The cost isn’t too bad (you’d probably spend the same amount on formula), it can express both sides at once, and it’s nowhere near as tedious as doing it manually. On the downside, it’ll be heavier and less portable, so there are trade-offs. Still, it worked great for us.
The very best piece of advice of all came from Dr. Benjamin Spock: “Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.”
Best of luck to you, and welcome (soon) to the club.