In the final few weeks of pregnancy women can either bask in the continuing glow and enjoyment of nourishing a new life or wish for any possible remedy to get their alien invader out of their bodies. Usually their feelings fluctuate between the two.

Dads have limited options but to sit and wait, being as supportive as possible, and listening for reports of any twinge, Braxton Hicks, or other signs that something is going to happen. It’s a long waiting game and doesn’t seem to be any clearer between the first, second or further pregnancies.

Discussions inevitably turn to how we can encourage the little one to make an appearance.

The internet and grannies seem to have all manner of suggestions about how to bring on labour when the time is right. I have no idea if any of them work. I’ve certainly tried some of these but I can’t point to any one thing that brought on the birth of our first daughter. And I don’t know if anything is working for the current baby we’re waiting for.

Walking

While it might seem counter to all feelings of pain and aching in the body, walking around may actually help to prepare the body for labour. If the baby if sitting in an awkward position, then walking may help to turn it the right way and get its head down in preparation for short journey down the birth canal.

Dad tip: Go for long walks with your partner but plan a route that has the possibility of frequent toilet stops. It’s not good to let your pregnant partner squat at the side of the road!

Curry

A hot and spicy food, typically a Vindaloo or Madras curry if feeling brave, may help to bring on labour. I’ve heard many different reasons why. Basically it seems that by throwing your intestines a curve ball with the extra spice, it may irritate them enough to spasm and cause the uterus to cramp. I used to wonder how cultures with lots of spicy food didn’t have babies early. I suppose if women’s bodies are used to hot food, it’s less likely to have an effect.

Dad tip: Don’t give spicy food to your partner if she never usually has it. And don’t give too much. The body usually evacuates its bowels as it prepares for labour, but this process is made less pleasant (especially in the birth room) if a lady has a upset tummy, i.e. the s**ts.

Sex

If you look at the medical induction of labour, most of the techniques mimic the act of sex. A pessary is given to mimic the effect of sperm, which contains prostaglandins which prepares and softens the cervix. Medical staff may also do a “sweep” of the cervix to try to loosen the “plug”. Again, this mimics the act of sex. And finally women may be given an oxytocin drip encourages hormones usually associated with making love.

Dad tip: This isn’t a sex blog and I’m not going to offer any tips here. If your partner’s pregnant I’m sure you know what to do. You can either do it yourself or let the hospital do it. It’s probably worth a try.

Other suggestions include acupuncture, acupressure, raspberry leaf tea, and hypnobirthing.

Ultimately it’s all about focusing on being calm.

All mammals instinctively want to give birth in a quiet and calm place. So the ultimate dad tip is to try and make the final few days as soothing and simple as possible as your partners prepares to do this amazing thing.

“I’ve never found anyone who didn’t want to help me if I asked them” – Steve Jobs.

As children we are taught to be polite, to always say please and thank you, and to wait patiently for our turn. It’s the oil that lubricates the wheels of our society. We simply cannot function as a group if everyone acts only for themselves. As parents, we try to instil those same fundamental values of decency in our children.

The best way we can teach our children common manners is to embody them ourselves.

Kids watch everything we do and soak it up like a sponge. The other day I found myself in the unusual situation of being in my daughter’s nursery without her. It was parents evening. An opportunity to catch up for ten minutes with the teachers on her progress. I’d missed the first one last term and was looking forward to learning about another side to my daughter when I wasn’t around. This time we organised a friend to sit with our daughter in the car outside while we went in.

On arrival we waited patiently in the main area. Unfortunately, due to an error another couple were sent in ahead of us. And then the couple due after us turned up, but they were late for another meeting and somehow managed to get in ahead of us, leaving us to speak to the teaching assistant instead. We came away late feeling like we’d wasted our time.

I was cross with everyone that evening. Most of all I was cross with myself for not being assertive enough in getting what I wanted. Especially as it affected my daughter who had to wait outside in the car for nearly an hour.

The thing I realised is that I can’t control everyone else’s behaviour but I can control mine.

The big thing that I should have done differently is be more assertive. I needed to make sure the staff knew we’d arrived and highlighted that it was our turn for our appointment. Instead, I acted too politely putting other people’s needs above mine.

Parents are responsible for educating children in their image. They will learn the example that we set them. I wonder if some of us are too deferential to others that we don’t get what we want, and that we might pass that on to our children.

The most important thing we can do to be happy and get the best for our children is to be assertive, to ask for what we want with purpose and clarity.

Too many of us, especially in reserved English society, are concerned with making others happy and taking a step back. We are often taught this from an early age and are passing this attitude on to our children. The problem is we will always be at the back of the queue. Some of us are the opposite and go after what they want even if it means stepping over others. This is just as bad. It’s a fine line between assertiveness and arrogance.

All parents should learn about and practise the art of assertiveness. We should teach ourselves to have self-value and clarity of what we want. And then we should ask for those things. If people ask for what they want they are much more likely to be fulfilled. Take a look at this short video interview of Steve Jobs who talks about how he asked the Chairman of Hewlett Packard for help when he was a kid, which then got him into computers.

Sadly, there are too few of us who act with true assertiveness. This results in frustration, lack of fulfilment, and confusion from other people who can’t read our minds and don’t understand what we want. Thankfully there are a number of resources we can go to as well as courses online.

As a father of a daughter I feel this even more keenly. I know that women are traditionally more self-deprecating that men. Women don’t always speak up. They either won’t, or they can’t, or they just don’t, but we’re living in a world that raises women to feel like they don’t deserve everything they want. That has to change.

So every day I try to be more assertive, for my daughter’s sake, to get what I want. I will make sure that I am at the front of the queue when I know I deserve to be. I will ask for what I want confidently and treat others with respect.  

Assertiveness is not about trying to overcome shyness, rather it’s about learning how to be ourselves around others. And I can’t think of a better gift we can give to our children.

It’s two weeks to go until the birth, maybe sooner. Natalie decided we should take a brief break by ourselves in the calm before the storm of a new baby. I take absolutely no credit for organising our weekend, but I wanted to share with you a lovely experience in the Cotswolds.

When you are a parent it’s very difficult to find time together as partners.

I would never want to take my family for granted, but sometimes it’s important to be a couple to focus on being the best family you can be. And so every now and then, you should take time to relax and recharge. We didn’t do this in a huge way (think weekend in Rome) this past weekend, but we decided to take some time out to visit Cotswolds. It’s only around 45 minutes away from home but felt like a world apart.

We checked in for one night at the Redesdale Arms in Moreton in Marsh. It’s a charming and lively pub with a number of guest rooms and suites. We stayed in a suite and enjoy the complimentary sherry on arrival. My Lent pledge to give up alcohol and bread took a night off.

Our suite was comfortable and quite spacious. It was very quiet even though there were obviously other people around. We had everything we needed in a well-designed and spacious room. In particular, the extra-large bed was much appreciated, as it gets very difficult for a heavily pregnant woman to get comfortable at night time.

The food was the highlight of the stay.

I am easily pleased and will eat anything, but even I could tell the quality of the food was far above most pub fare. Natalie had a duck dish and I had steak and ale pie. Both were cooked perfectly and we were looked after by the waiting staff very well. As I hadn’t drunk for a while, and Natalie isn’t drinking at the moment due to obvious reasons, I felt the alcohol a little more than I usually would. Pulled pints of specially-commissioned Cheltenham Racing bitter went down very easily, as did the complimentary (two!) glasses of prosecco.

If there was one meal I could have every day it would be breakfast. I’m a huge fan of a full English breakfast. The sight of a breakfast buffet often gives me mixed feelings. On the one hand, I can eat as much as I like but on the other I would rather have a better quality breakfast to order. There were both options available at the Redesdale Arms; the buffet was full of staple foods such as grilled sausages and the increasingly elusive black pudding. Added to this was the option for bespoke grilled skippers or freshly-made porridge and cream, for example. I desperately tried to keep up my Lent abstinence from bread.

After breakfast we took a walk around Moreton in Marsh. Truth be told we didn’t stop too long because there’s not too much to do on a Sunday when most shops are closed. And so we hopped in the car I went to Bourton-on-the-Water.

If you want to visit a quintessentially English Cotswold town, Bourton-on-the-Water is the place. Unfortunately, everyone else knows about this and it was full of people even on a pre-season March spring day.

It’s a pleasant town and we stayed for a while walking around the beautiful Cotswold stone bridges and taking in the picture perfect sites. It seems to be very popular amongst the East Asian tourist community, and several of the signs in shops and cafes were in dual languages. We also drove through a couple of smaller villages called Upper and Lower Slaughter. These seem to be less busy just as perfect looking and perhaps would have been a better bet for a leisurely walk.

On our way back home we stopped off at Hidcote Gardens, as no trip is complete without a visit to the National Trust! This was completely the wrong time of year to go, with absolutely no flowers on show. Although I could see plenty of preparation and hard work had gone into the gardens. I think coming back in May would be the best time. Of course, we stopped off in the café for a scone.

I’ve never been much of an advocate of weekend breaks. But this was a fantastic break and I’m grateful to Natalie for booking. I couldn’t help thinking at many points on the trip that our daughter would enjoy looking at these things, or climbing over something. I suppose we can’t help thinking and seeing things through our children’s eyes when we are so well practised at being with them.

It’s really important and enjoyable to spend time just as a couple. If you’re thinking about doing the same, I would definitely recommend a trip to the Cotswolds. Take a car because you need to get around. And don’t eat for a while because as plenty of great food on offer.

So my compliments go to the staff at the Redesdale Arms. And of course to Natalie who, amidst the final weeks of pregnancy, still takes the time to book and think about organising fantastic weekends away.

 

Four years ago we welcomed a baby girl into this world. I’ve watched as she’s grown and is now at nursery. Gender doesn’t seem to matter to her, right now, and that’s great. She plays with everyone but I can also see some subtle differences in the way she interacts with girls and boys. Is this a natural part of being a girl or a boy, or is it society beginning to introduce stereotypes according to gender?

I’m committed to do everything I can to make sure my daughter can live a fulfilled life.

So far, there have been no obvious boundaries to her development based on her gender. However, I know there are probably some subtle messages coming from the older generation about what a girl should be. There is still the relentless push of anything pink and fluffy.

Sometimes it’s difficult to stop people pushing their own ideas of what it is to be a girl. I see it is my role to do as much as I can to ensure she can thrive and achieve whatever she wants . There should be no glass ceiling for her generation.

Am I being over-cautious? Perhaps, but then women have been suppressed for hundreds, if not thousands of years.

My wife is also a committed feminist. She has dedicated her career to expanding opportunities for women around the world. I’m proud of the things she has achieved, and she has also taught me to think differently. I went to all-boys school and had a particular view of the world. Now I see that equal representation between men and women is vital to the success of our society.

The Millennial Dad has a huge role to play in International Women’s Day.

The Millennial Dad is the first to grow up in a world with equal opportunities between men and women. A female of my generation is able to earn just as much and progress just as far as I am able to do. The issue comes when people have children and take time off. Work still needs to be done in this area to allow parental leave to benefit both men and women.

The Millennial Dad is part of the generation that doesn’t apply traditional gender roles. My wife and I share equal commitments at home and I like to think that we both have opportunities to pursue our careers. I would happily fulfil the role of stay-at-home parent and I’m often jealous when I read all the great SAHD blogs.

The Millennial Dad is helping to change society and benefiting feminism. Millennial parents are starting to raise children in unbiased societies where girls and boys can achieve whatever they want in life.

We are expecting another child in the next two weeks. We chose not to find out what it would be, a boy or girl. At first this annoyed me and I wanted to know as early as possible to prepare the things. But what am I really preparing for? A boy or a girl does not need any different treatment. A boy or a girl should have equal opportunities to progress in this world to the best of their abilities. A boy or girl should not be held back at all in what they want to do. It is our role as parents to ensure our children will take forward the baton. I think we have done an awful lot in the last few years to develop equal rights for both men and women. There is still much to do and many pockets of society where things are far more backward than we would like. But it’s important that we keep going, celebrating International Women’s Day and women’s achievements. I look forward to talking to my daughter tonight about all the things she wants to achieve in her life, hoping that there won’t be any barriers against reaching her goals.

And whether she has a brother or sister, I will aim to teach them the same.

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer and You…”

          Dr Seuss

I’ve been part of the parent blogging scene for a few months now. What I like about it is the sense of community and how helpful people are. What turns me off is when I see people who are obviously acting fake. Which leads me to the one realisation that I’ve had taking up the reins of blogging.

You can’t pretend to be anyone other than you.

It’s still taking time to find my blogging style. Do I share intimate details about my family life and pictures of my children? Do I focus on writing reviews of great products? Should I focus solely on contributing to other blogs rather than build up my own profile, as are already so many other fantastic bloggers out there?

The main reason of starting a blog was to help focus my mind on writing a book, but that book hasn’t yet come together! Instead I found so many fantastic resources amongst this parent blogging community. I started reading and writing my own material.

So what attracts me to blogs that I like? I really like to read from people who are honest about their struggles and tell us about how difficult it can be as a parent. I also like to be entertained and to read humorous reviews and updates on Twitter and YouTube. I like serious writers and I like cheeky chaps who just do it for a bit of fun.

As a consumer of a lot of parent blog posts I’ve noticed the one trait that attracts me most is authenticity.

If someone is authentic I feel a connection with them and want to read even more of their material. If someone is helpful and engages with me in a meaningful way, writing about things that matter in my day-to-day life, then I am interested. It surprises me how easily I am able to spot bullshit in blogs. I can tell who is writing purely to promote themselves as fast as possible. I can see the person who follows hundreds of people and then and then unfollows them just to boost their social media standing. I can even tell the obviously staged photographs of parents with their families, exploiting them just for promotional purposes.

To be genuine and authentic means to be yourself.

When it comes to my own writing I can try to put on a particular persona and I can try to cultivate brand-savvy images on Instagram. But at the end of the day it just doesn’t feel right and I’m sure it doesn’t work.

I’m not quite there yet with my writing style, but I know what I like to write about and I like connecting with people. I’m not entirely comfortable with sharing loads of pictures of myself or my daughter, and I can’t live up to the pressure of trying to be funny all the time. Some people do this tremendously well. I am not one of them. There are a few people out there who are versatile and can be funny, serious, entertaining and informative while also being genuine and authentic. I’m not one of them yet, so I’m going to focus on what I enjoy and see how things go.

Sometimes I can be funny and sometimes informative, but I know that everything I write is usually a true reflection of me as a person. I believe this is the main way that bloggers can connect with people. It is the one trait that all truly successful parent bloggers possess. My advice to you (and me) is to keep your head in the real world. Don’t try to be someone you are not. You will get found out.

The best way to be successful is to be you.