During this first phase of pregnancy, many of these fatherhood qualities seem a bit vague or generalized. Yet each of them is important to you, your baby and your partner (whether you live together or not she will always be the mother of your child). We’re going to show you how to grow these 10 skills and how they change throughout pregnancy. Each will be explained as thoughts and actions, starting with kindness.

Kindness to yourself

Kindness is a quality that speaks for itself. During this early stage of becoming a father, it is one of the primary emotions you must exercise toward yourself. As soon as you know you are pregnant, many thoughts and feelings will arise whether you planned this pregnancy, love your partner or not and whether you live together.

Life continues, like it or not. You still have to go about your daily business, bring in the bucks, eat, sleep, clean up, drive from here to there. And life continues with any problems you might have in your relationship, financially, with family or friends, your health, etc. Life also continues with all the good qualities too, though.

The first news of pregnancy and subsequent rapid changes that a woman experiences, which are not always pleasant (morning sickness in particular!), can have a huge unsettling influence on your life. If this pregnancy is planned and wanted you might be confused that your emotions or those of your partner are not always happy. If this pregnancy was unexpected then you might be surprised at how intense some negative emotions can be.

Kindness is a quality you can direct to yourself. Be kind that your mind dredges up negative thoughts. Some of these thoughts surprise us with how intense they are. This intensity of thought and emotion is necessary for fatherhood. Being a father encompasses the heightened role of protector of a defenseless human child. Growing heightened emotions are part of that protective mechanism.

You need to learn to be kind to yourself. Learn to watch the thoughts and emotions that go through your mind during this early period. Kindness exists within a calm place within you. Kindness is not always an action, it is an acceptance of what is, a settling down and an internal embrace.

As you go through these first stages of becoming a father it’s important that you grow your kindness within yourself. This is also a form of self-forgiveness. Do not expect that everything you think or do will show the best of who you can be. However, kindly forgive yourself so you can learn how to moderate your thoughts and actions.

Kindness to your baby

It’s very difficult to be kind to your baby at this point. You can’t touch your baby and if you have discovered this pregnancy within the first 6 weeks then your baby is still only a mass of cells. However, with your emotions, you can already direct negative and positive thoughts to it. This is where you need to be kind to your baby. Throughout your child’s life (believe it or not) you will have some very negative feelings and thoughts about how your baby or child does things.

Feeling negative about your child is a real no-no topic. Somehow having negative feelings about your own child seems mean-spirited and harsh but it’s a reality for both men and women and must not be dismissed.

Even if this is a wanted pregnancy you can have negative thoughts. Being kind to your child comes from your ability to tell your child (yes, talk to it in your own mind) and explain that having negative thoughts and feelings are normal. Tell your baby that having these feelings does not mean that you will act on them.

This is important for you to understand. Your mind can express one thing but that does not mean you have to act on it. This is the difference between being a child who does act out negative feelings and an adult who learns how to control their actions. This does not mean you can always control your emotions or thoughts.

During this early stage, begin to talk with your baby with kindness. Practice what tone in your voice you use when you are exercising kindness. Practice what actions of care you want to show your child so they can feel your kindness. When children (or others) feel your kindness they feel safe with you.

Kindness to the mother

This is much more complex! If you are in a loving relationship you probably already feel you show your partner kindness and you’re probably right. Sometimes she might know that and sometimes not even recognize it.

When you exercise kindness to another person you do it whether or not another person appreciates it. As a child, you would likely expect the other person to appreciate your kind actions. As an adult you are just kind because you are an adult and kindness is important.

If you are not close with your partner then it’s tempting not to exhibit kindness because it’s easier to show her that you’re not really with her by not being kind. This is how a child behaves and you should be moving out of that phase of your life. This means you must exercise kindness to your partner because she is the mother of your child.

Your child will love its mother. If you are unkind to its mother you will hurt your child.

During this early period of pregnancy, the mother is going through a huge change because she has another being growing inside her body. Think about this a moment. When you catch a cold and feel poorly you feel that way because bacteria or viruses are growing inside your cells. Eventually, you get over feeling poorly because your body either overcomes the germs or the germs settle down within you.

A baby is not a germ, however, its growth changes all the hormones in the mother’s body which can already cause her to feel weird or unsettled. The baby also throws off a lot of metabolic waste products which her body then has to deal with as well. During this early phase, the mother might feel crappy. Morning sickness is persistent and lasts for weeks and weeks.

She might also have to go to work during this time and she certainly has to continue to live her life. Perhaps there are already children in the family and she still has to mother them. Perhaps this is her first child and she is just amazed at how poorly she feels. Having morning sickness is not connected to whether this is a wanted pregnancy or not. It happens to most mothers.

Kindness to your partner is paramount. During other phases of pregnancy, when she is feeling great then kindness isn’t always the first emotion and action she needs from you. During this early period, she needs you to understand that she is going through phenomenal changes. When you are kind to her she will remember this.

Discover kindness in yourself, toward yourself, toward your growing and changing baby and toward your partner who is growing your baby inside her body. Be kind.

Your bottom line

All these qualities have skills attached to them. Being kind shows through actions, tone of voice, body language, and intent. Take a deep breath and be grateful that you are being taught simple skills to grow along with your baby and your baby’s mother.

Head to Udemy for all the Fathers-to-be Pregnancy Academy courses. Then at 24 weeks of pregnancy, come back here and start with Birthing Better online birth classes with all the birth preparation and birth-coaching skills … all developed by hundreds of dads and moms.

Birthing Better skills are housed in Common Knowledge Trust.