first-time dads

What First-Time Dads Need to Know

Becoming a father for the first time can be a bit intimidating. OK, maybe it is downright terrifying. While fatherhood can be one of the most amazing highlights of your life, it also comes with uncertainties and fears that you now hold a precious life in your hands. Intense emotions, coupled with a lack of sleep in those first days after you come home with a newborn – can be challenging. That is why Care Net is here to help. Sometimes new dads just need a few tips on where to start and how to be the most impactful once their little one is home. Here is some great advice to help you enjoy fatherhood to the fullest.

Commit to hands-on daily care

Building your skills and confidence in any aspect of life requires practice. Get into the routine of doing something and soon, you will master it. Taking care of a baby is no different. New dads must get their hands dirty – no pun intended – right from the very beginning. Before their babies leave the hospital, dads should be helping with their daily care. Dress them, feed them, bathe them, and – yes – change their diapers. When dads spend one-on-one time with their babies, it helps develop an unbreakable bond while developing self-confidence in their parenting abilities. As a bonus, it gives their partners a chance to get some much-needed rest.

Connect through touch

Newborns do not have the best eyesight. At birth, it is somewhere between 20/200 and 20/400. In other words, if something is not within 8 inches, they likely cannot see it well. This is one of many reasons why babies connect best through touch. Skin-to-skin time with birth mothers helps regulate babies’ body temperatures, breathing, and heart rate. Consistent emotional and physical engagement of babies helps their brains develop and provides a sense of comfort and safety. Some studies suggest that babies who have more physical contact with their moms and dads cry less and sleep better. Dads should hold their babies close to their chests so their babies can hear their hearts beating.

Talk to your little one

It is never too soon to start developing a baby’s language skills. Dads can practice talking to their babies by describing things they are doing. For instance, if they are changing a diaper, they can talk the baby through the process and say comforting things like “there we go, dry diaper, all better!” Singing songs and reading bedtime stories also help the baby stay calm and get more familiar with the language and sounds. The more frequently babies hear their parents’ voices, the easier it becomes for them to pick them out from other adults.

Make time for your partner

Having a baby can strain even the best relationships. Staying positive and supporting your partner can help strengthen your connection. Negotiating baby care and discussing parenting expectations before bringing the baby home from the hospital is the best way to ensure no resentment builds. Communication is the key to a happy family. Discuss everything from parenting styles to expectations about intimacy before the baby is here to ensure everyone is on the same page. Be open to discussing feelings before they turn into resentment.

Know when to seek help

Care Net Pregnancy Center is not just about free pregnancy testing (although we offer that, too). We offer valuable resources for men only to help them prepare for fatherhood. Our pregnancy and parenting education classes help both expectant dads and moms prepare for their new arrival. Reach out today to find out how we can help.

affordable childcare services

How to Find Affordable Childcare Services

Finding affordable childcare services often is a deciding factor in whether a woman keeps her baby. On average, parents spend $750 per child per month for childcare, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Costs can vary by state, but childcare easily is the biggest expense most families face. The ever-increasing costs of childcare can be especially daunting for single mothers, who already may struggle to make ends meet with one income. Dual-income households also require the support of reliable childcare services.

affordable childcare services

Why does childcare cost so much?

Blaming the cost of childcare on staff wages is not logical since most daycare workers make about $12 per hour or less in the U.S. Some childcare centers offer benefits to their employees. Childcare centers that are federally funded like Head Start, or that are affiliated with larger organizations (churches, universities), are the most likely to offer benefits like healthcare and paid time off.

The more likely culprit for higher childcare costs is the number of state and federal regulations to which the industry is subjected. For instance, some states require low caretaker-to-child ratios, which means childcare facilities must hire more staff to meet those mandates. High turnover rates among staff also drive up costs since employers must not only pay to conduct a job search but for any training new employees need during the onboarding process.

Tips for lowering childcare costs

One of the best things you can do soon after you find out you are pregnant is to start exploring childcare options. Starting early means you have time to secure an affordable and reliable option before others are in the game.

Here are some other things you can do to lower your childcare costs:

  • Set a budget. Once you know your budget, you can decide whether in-home daycare centers, part-time sitters, or a nanny share would work best for your situation.
  • Talk to your employer. Some employers offer a Dependent Care Account (DCA). A type of Flexible Spending Account, it allows you to set aside up to $5,000 tax-free each year to pay for childcare services. There is a downside to a DCA. Any amount left over at the end of the fiscal year is forfeited. This means you must budget carefully to make sure you spend every cent in the account, so you are not losing income. You must keep receipts and other accounting records and submit them to the DCA for reimbursement.
  • Use your childcare tax credit. If you itemize your taxes, you can claim up to $3,000 per child, per tax year for all childcare-related expenses. There is a $6,000 annual cap per family. While it is possible to use a DCA and childcare tax credits, any DCA money is applied to the tax cap first.
  • Explore non-profit options. Nonprofit organizations like the YMCA and local churches may offer affordable childcare alternatives in your community. Some of these organizations, like the YMCA, base your childcare tuition on your income. They can afford to do this because they may receive state or federal funding to help operate their childcare center, which allows them to offset costs.

Community referrals for childcare services

The costs associated with daycare should never be the reason a mother chooses to keep her baby. At Care Net, we believe in providing ongoing support to families who choose life. While we do not offer childcare services through our organization, our team is skilled in helping you to locate affordable and reliable childcare options. Need assistance paying for childcare? We can help with that, too. Care Net has an available list of funding resources to which we can refer our clients. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation. 

parenting education class

Should you take a parenting education class?

Taking a parenting education class is one of the best ways to prepare for raising a child. A parenting education program can help new parents gain valuable child-rearing skills and become more confident in their ability to start a family. Whether your pregnancy is unexpected, or you and your partner have been trying to conceive, taking a free pregnancy education class at Care Net can help you prepare for your baby’s arrival. When parents have the tools and support needed to grow their parenting skills, their children reap the rewards.

If you and your partner are still on the fence about enrolling in a parental education program, take a closer look at the benefits.

Parenting education helps you master the basics

Basic childcare is a concern for many first-time parents. When you take a parenting course at Care Net, we cover everything from feeding schedules to health issues. You also learn how to determine your parenting style and craft a parenting strategy that focuses on your parenting personality. Care Net recognizes that children have different needs depending on their age. Our free parenting classes cover every stage in your child’s life. By the time you “graduate” from our classes, we make sure you have the essential tips needed to shape your parenting skills and abilities.

Parenting education instills confidence

Becoming a parent is one of the most exciting – and terrifying – things that can happen to you. If this is your first child, you probably have a lot of questions. Should you use cloth or disposable diapers? How often do you need to feed the baby? How much sleep does your baby need? A parenting education program addresses these and many other parenting-related concerns.  Parenting is equal parts knowledge and courage. Even when you know what to do, you still may hesitate. Gaining confidence in your ability to care for the needs of that tiny person and help them thrive is one of the top priorities for prenatal education providers.

Parenting education teaches parent-child engagement

One of the most pressing questions many parents have is how to connect with their children. When you have a newborn, engagement looks much different than when your child becomes a toddler and eventually a teenager. Parental involvement is one of the most important factors in the success of a child as he or she grows. Not only academically, but socially and emotionally. Care Net’s free parenting education program teaches parents what to expect at every stage of their child’s development. We offer practical strategies for meeting their basic needs, plus how to meaningfully engage with your child on all levels.

Parenting education provides a support network

This is one of the biggest benefits of participating in one of our education classes. Parenting is hard, whether you are brand new to it or are on your third child. Meeting other parents who are struggling with the same questions and concerns is comforting. It also is one of the best ways to build a network of support. This is especially critical for single moms, who may not have family or friends they can rely on for assistance once the baby arrives.

What to expect from parenting education classes

Care Net’s free parenting education program is comprehensive. Women and their partners (or a supportive family member) learn:

  • How to meet basic needs such as food, shelter, and protection.
  • How to provide emotional support to help children develop critical life skills.
  • How to ensure physical safety for your child.
  • How to build social skills to help your child communicate successfully.

How to sign up for a class

Signing up for a parenting education program is easy. Contact us today to get started on your parenting journey.

pregnancy, fatherhood

Just for Men: 5 Ways to Support Your Partner’s Pregnancy

Most men understand that when it comes to an unplanned pregnancy, the decision about how it is handled ultimately is up to their partners. Once a missed period happens, a whirlwind of emotions can overtake both you and your partner. Just because the final decision about whether an abortion, adoption, or parenthood is up to the woman, that does not mean men cannot be involved in the process. 

Most women value – welcome, even – input from their partners. Keep in mind that input does not equal overbearing demands or threats hurled at your partner. Those kinds of behaviors will alienate you and your partner and are not healthy emotionally for either of you. How you choose to respond, and the actions you take after finding out about the pregnancy, can help influence your partner’s decision. 

Once you confirm the pregnancy, here are a few things men can do to support their partners’ pregnancy decisions. 

#1 – Educate Yourself About Pregnancy Options

There are many options for dealing with an unplanned pregnancy. One of the most important steps you can take together is to educate yourselves on all pregnancy options available. Care Net is your premier abortion clinic alternative in Albuquerque. Our caring and supportive staff will present all information about pregnancy options to you and your partner as part of the free pregnancy help services that we offer all clients. Information about abortion, adoption, and parenthood is discussed. No matter which route you choose, Care Net provides ongoing support. 

#2 – Practice Active Listening

Active listening is a technique that requires carefully listening to spoken words while observing non-verbal cues. From the moment your partner tells you she may be (or confirmed she is) pregnant, you must put on your “listening ears” if you want to be viewed as a beacon of support. Ask her about her thoughts and feelings. Is she excited about being pregnant, or scared and uncertain? Does she have any initial thoughts about what she wants to do? Let her know that no matter how she is feeling, it is OK to express those thoughts and feelings to you. Make sure she feels like she is in a safe space for sharing. 

#3 – Share Your Thoughts and Feelings

Once your partner has had a chance to express how she feels, it is your turn to be brutally honest. Keep in mind it is OK to not be excited about a pregnancy. It also is OK to be totally confused about how you are feeling. There are no wrong feelings about pregnancy. There are only wrong ways to express them. If you are feeling negative about the pregnancy, make sure you express your feelings in a constructive way. Lead with “I” statements so your partner does not feel personally attacked. For instance, you could say something like “When you told me you were pregnant, I felt nervous because I am not sure I am mature enough to be a father.”  Not only is this being honest, but it also places responsibility for your feelings right where they belong – on you. 

#4 – Show Your Support

From the minute your partner tells you she is pregnant to her final decision about the pregnancy, show your support. This is one of the most important things you can do. Even if you are on opposite ends of the spectrum about how best to deal with the pregnancy, your chances of getting through it in a way that preserves your relationship are by showing your support. Let her know you care about her. During difficult times, Do not pressure your partner about the pregnancy or her choices. It is definitely not OK to “check out” on her, either. Explore your options together and find the help you need to sort through the situation. Giving her the support she needs – including exploring pregnancy options – can make your relationship stronger. 

#5 – Respect Her Decision

This is the hard part, guys. When exploring her pregnancy options, your partner could make a decision that makes you unhappy. The best thing you can do in this situation is to respect her decision. We know this is a difficult ask. Men who need extra support at this time can reach out to Care Net for help. We offer a caring environment for discussing your feelings, including support groups where you can share your thoughts with other men. 

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The information and graphics contained on this site are for informational and educational purposes only. This site is designed to promote broad knowledge of various pregnancy or sexual health topics and general understanding concerning pregnancy. It is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice, or professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Pregnancy and other health issues need to be diagnosed by your physician or other qualified health care provider in person. Home tests and online discussions do not qualify as diagnosis or advise for treatment. Make an appointment with one of our center medical team or with your physician to discuss any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment, and before undertaking a new health care regimen. Follow your medical provider’s instructions and never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read on a website or social media.