This is part of our fatherhood in 200 words series where we asked dads to share a little about themselves, their most prominent memory of their first year of fatherhood, the best parenting advice they have received and a message for dads-to-be. Each answer was limited to 50 words and you find them here unedited and as given. This week's advice comes from jazz musician Dan Forshaw, who lives in Cambridge.


I’m married to Katy and we have two kids, a girl aged six and a boy who is about to turn four.  I’m mostly self employed and work as a musician and music tutor, running my own teaching website that has students all over the world, (including one in Antartica!) 

Prominent memory from first year of fatherhood: 

The most emotional, inspiring and tiring year of my life. Seriously, your world and everything in it gets turned upside down. You will find your emotional ‘compass’ stretched beyond belief,  in a positive and negative way. 

Best fatherhood advice received:

Go with your instincts. Everyone will have endless advice, but go with what you and your partner feel is right. The other thing is to prioritise your relationship. You will both face incredible strains and may have some terrible rows but stay strong and make time for one another.

Message for men expecting their first baby:

Sleep!  And learn that your wife / partner is going to be a very different person both emotionally and physically after the birth, don’t say the first thing that comes into your head, no matter how tired you are!

Advocacy vs. Abandonment - 3 pitfalls for partners to avoid when using a birth plan and how to get it right.

Advocacy vs. Abandonment - 3 pitfalls for partners to avoid when using a birth plan and how to get it right.

I'm not going to lie, I felt a little scared about my son's birth. As much as I knew that birth can be an amazing experience there is also all that uncertainty and potential risk and the underlying essence of the thing which was that a baby was going to come out of my wife. Out of her. 

We had thought quite a bit about the birth, how she wanted it to be and how I could support her best. We were encouraged to put together a birth plan - basically some ideas of what we did and didn't want, preferences and hopes that we could share with the midwife who came to the birth. We found it a helpful experience but a word of warning - it's not a Christmas list, things don't always go perfectly and I think it's important to not cling too tightly to the perfect birth. 

That said, Abby (that's my wife, to the uninitiated) was pretty clear on what she wanted in birth, to be at home if at all possible, to have the environment clear and relaxed, with soft lighting and music - trying to create as calm and peaceful an experience as possible. To describe birth in these terms might sound ridiculous but it really can be possible. 

We were also both realistic about the possibility of having to go into hospital to give birth and although Abby was not at all keen on the idea of certain pain relief or having a C-section we were aware that things don't always happen as you hope so we ensured we also had something of a plan if this happened too. We also decided that if things didn't go as planned then it would be up to me to try and make sure things went as positively (I.E. as Abby would want it) as possible. With so many different possibilities that felt like quite a responsibility...

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