For all those soon-to-be-dads, congratulations on your big bundle of joy that is on its way! Although it is the woman who carries the child within her for nine months, the father’s role is no less important. Fathers have an equal responsibility in preparing for the baby and there are many ways in which you can prepare yourself for fatherhood. During this crucial period, you need to keep your cool and do your very best to be there and support your wife.
What should you expect?
For those of you who are having their first baby, this could pose as a challenging time. Most dads may feel alienated and clueless about what should be expected or how they can help their wives. From the time your wife announces her pregnancy, it is crucial that you are always available and you put a keen interest in her medical check-ups. You must also ensure that she eats nutritious food to keep her and the baby inside her womb healthy.
Apart from being there for the major doctor appointments (think scans and other antenatal appointments) you can also help by being more accommodating to the needs of your spouse.
How can you help?
It is possible for a father-to-be to suffer from anxiety because of inexperienced and lack of knowledge about how to take care of things during the pregnancy. To help eliminate this strain, you should read books about pregnancy, childbirth as well as parental skills.
Here are a few things you can do:
- Accompany your wife to all medical appointments. This allows you to see how your baby is growing. It provides emotional strength to the woman as well.
- Attend ultrasounds and others scans with your wife. This will enable you to get a first glimpse of what your baby looks like and you can even get a picture to take home.
- Join prenatal preparation classes with your wife to learn how to be a good parent. These classes help you earn the basics of looking after a baby.
- Read up as much as you can on pregnancy and birth. This will help you get an idea about the basics of pregnancy and what to expect at labor and birth.
- Go shopping for baby items. You will need tons of things after the baby is born. Best to start early.
- Prepare a list of baby names and discuss it with your wife what names you’d both prefer, be it a girl or a boy.
- Participate in household chores. Understand that your wife is going through a transformational process; she needs rest, support and lots of understanding.
- Communicate with her. This is vital in identifying any anxieties that she (or you both may have). Find ways to support each other and be a source of reassurance to one another.
- Create a birth plan with your partner outlining methods of pain relief and where you want to have the baby.
- Book a holiday with your wife. It is best to travel in the first and second trimesters when there is less risk of premature birth. Travelling will help her de-stress and helps in bonding.
- Enjoy your new role as the expectant father
Identify your feelings
Pregnancy impacts fathers as well and you are likely to feel a gamut of emotions. A baby means new responsibilities and you may feel that you are not ready for it. Discuss your feelings with your wife and try to come up with solutions that work best for you. At times, money and financial restrictions can also be a cause of worry. Communicate and come up with a plan or a budget and then stick to it. Ask friends and family members how they tackled certain problems and incorporate their tips to help the situation.
Sex during pregnancy
There’s usually no medical reason to avoid sex, but she may not want or feel like having sex. During pregnancy, it is normal that:
- Her breasts may become tender especially in the early weeks
- Best to avoid sex if there is any bleeding or pain
- Make sure she is comfortable with it
- You may need to try out a few different positions as the pregnancy develops
If you’re not having sex, come up with other ways of being close, but do talk about it with your wife.
Here are some additional things you need to ensure as the father:
- Be emotionally prepared for the pregnancy. This is a must.
- Make her the center of attention
- Consider her condition and use the right words when communicating with her
- Help out in domestic activities.
- Making sure her diet is nutritious. Support her by cooking nutritious meals
- Help her stay healthy and hygienic
- Encourage exercise as per doctor/specialist’s recommendation.
- Make sure she has a good night sleep
- Do some personal shopping on her behalf
- Educate yourself and her at every stage of her pregnancy
- Take a paternity leave from work to focus on her; she needs your physical presence as well as your emotional presence during the pregnancy.
- Plan for the birth of the baby.
Becoming a father and a parent, particularly for the first time, is an emotional experience. As an expectant father, learn as much as you can about pregnancy and help the mum-to-be to become happier and healthier during and after the birth of the child.