Cullen Jones participates in Daddy Boot Camp along with expecting wife.

Men's Health, Family Health | 2 years ago

How One Daddy Boot Camp is Transforming the Parenting Game for Expecting Dads

Whether you're an expecting first-time of fifth-time father, Atrium Health's Daddy Boot Camp is here to help prepare educate you and your loved one with all of the information, tools and resources you may need once your tiny loved one makes their grand debut into the world. Here, David Grelecki, one of our Daddy Boot Camp instructors answers your top questions about the program.

In the video, be sure to check out how Cullen Jones, Olympic Gold Medalist and new father, felt about his Boot Camp experience and becoming a dad for the very first time!

So, what in the world is Daddy Boot Camp? And what can I expect during the program? We sat down with David Grelecki, our Daddy Boot Camp Instructor at Atrium Health Pineville to get a better understanding of what Dads can hope to gain from the program.

Question 1: What can dads-to-be do to prepare for their wife’s delivery?

Answer 1 | Coach Grelecki: Collaborate with your partner on a birthing plan, which outlines the couple’s preferences, such as natural child birth versus receiving an epidural, what visitors are allowed in the birthing suite, is dad interested in cutting the umbilical cord, etc. Reviewing the birthing plan with your partner before the delivery day helps you be prepared to execute your role as advocate for your partner.

Pack all hospital bags including dad’s, mom’s and baby’s bags. Have mom put all items she wants to bring to the hospital for her (and baby) in one place and dad will pack the bags, so when he is asked to retrieve something from the bags, he knows where everything is packed. Be sure to confirm with mom, before leaving for the hospital, that she has given you everything that she wants to bring including last minute items.

Practice the route to the hospital in the morning and in the evening, during the week as well as weekends, if you can, to get an idea of traffic patterns.

Attend maternity education classes with your partner, as another set of eyes and ears, so you are both getting the same information and be engaged when your partner is sharing information with you that she has discovered through independent research.

Have someone who is certified in infant car seat installation, either assist you with installing your infant car seat, or inspect your infant car seat for safety after installation.

Q2: Can Dads-to-be attend the maternity classes with their wives? Is it encouraged?

A2 | Coach Grelecki: Yes, the maternity education classes are co-ed and I strongly encourage expectant dads to attend. Some expectant moms, particularly first-time moms, may lack confidence or experience feelings of insecurity. By attending these classes with mom, you can be alleviating some of the pressure she is experiencing trying to retain all of this information independently, therefore reducing some of her stress and anxiety.

Q3: Does Atrium Health offer Dads-only a class or learning opportunities?

A3 | Coach Grelecki: Yes, Boot Camp for New Dads is a 1 day, 3 hour, class primarily for first time expectant dads, focusing on dad’s concerns.

Q4: Tell us a little bit more about the Daddy Boot Camp Class? What can Dads-to-be experience and learn?

A4 | Coach Grelecki: In the Boot Camp for New Dads class we focus on those topics that dads are concerned about. Some of the topics covered in every class are Caring for Mom, Safety, Bonding, Stocking a Diaper Bag, Managing Family, Visitors, and Help, Soothing a Crying Baby, and Labor and Delivery.

Q5: How can I best support my partner after the baby is here?

A5 | Coach Grelecki: New moms often return home with many concerns, including; caring for the baby, personal physical recovery, mastering breastfeeding, her relationship with you, and the upkeep of the house. To the extent that you are able, try to alleviate some of these concerns by assuming some of the tasks associated with these concerns yourself or assigning them to others who are looking to help. Allow mom’s priorities to be caring for the baby, personal physical recovery, and mastering breastfeeding. For the first week or two it may be difficult for mom to get around, particularly if she is recovering from Cesarean Section delivery. You will need to provide physical support for her during this recovery time. What many moms want from their partner is someone who can do what they do, when they can’t do it, to a level that is acceptable to them. Also, open communication is one key to successful transition from a couple to a family. Be sure to compliment mom on the job that she’s doing as new mom, celebrating the successes and boosting her confidence. Also ask probing questions to get a clearer understanding of what your partner wants from you. Here are some examples: What are some of your biggest challenges in the first couple weeks? What is easier than you thought it would be in the first couple of weeks? What are two or three things specifically that you want me to do? What are two or three things specifically that you want me to stop doing?

Q6: I don’t have experience holding newborn babies, how do I make sure that I don’t harm or hurt my baby?

A6 | Coach Grelecki: The good news is that babies are quite flexible and durable, that being said, many injuries come from drops, falls or shaking. Avoid falling asleep on a chair or sofa holding the baby. This can result in the baby dropping from your grip. Be careful to have a clear path, free from clutter, when walking around the house with your baby and watch where you step to avoid falls. Lastly, handling a crying baby can be very frustrating and, although it is a good idea to try to calm and soothe the baby with hands on calming techniques, sometimes we do not achieve the desired outcome and our baby continues to cry. If the crying is more than you can handle and you become extremely frustrated, it is okay to put the baby down in a safe place free from any loose objects that can block the baby’s nose and mouth, if you need 10-15 minutes to calm down. Caregivers who become extremely frustrated handling a crying baby run the risk of shaking the baby out of frustration not considering the consequences. Because the baby’s neck muscles are not fully developed, shaking a baby may lead to irreversible trauma that can cause problems with vision, problems with motor skills and in some cases death.

Q7: How can I balance my responsibilities as a new dad with my work schedule?

A7 | Coach Grelecki: New dads are often concerned about managing work responsibilities with family responsibilities. Although you may have to work long hours or travel for work, when you are home your focus needs to be on family. Be sure to take some of the hands on responsibilities from your partner like diaper changing, bathing the baby, preparing the baby for bedtime, and feeding the baby, if bottle feeding is an option. Use the calendar on your phone to schedule one on one time with your baby when you know you will be home and commit to that calendar. You will need the one on one time to bond with your baby and mom will need the break to recharge her batteries. Remember to find time to reconnect with your partner and have a night out together when you feel comfortable leaving the baby with a trusted caregiver.


Learn more about Daddy Boot Camp and the many maternity classes offered at Atrium Health.