A bundle of joy is on the way! Even though she is the one carrying the baby, it is very much a team effort to prepare for the new experiences that are to come. As the father-to-be, what should you expect during this exciting time?
You can’t predict every potential scenario, but it can be helpful to look ahead so you are prepared for common occurrences during pregnancy, birth, and beyond. Not only can you support your partner as she is going through the physical changes of pregnancy, but it’s also important to consider how you can offer emotional care as well.
There are many books, articles, and podcasts offering advice and suggestions for new moms. But the information is limited for the fathers. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a pregnancy guide for men? Just because the dads aren’t as visible during the pregnancy, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have an important role to play. In fact, researchers are now suggesting that a man’s lifestyle and age can have a significant effect on the health of his children.
Here are a few first-time dad tips during pregnancy to help you be prepared for the weeks and months ahead:
Tip #1: Attend the Checkups
It is exciting to see the baby’s growth in the ultrasounds, listen to the heartbeat, and talk to the doctor about the milestones that are reached throughout the pregnancy. Even though it seems unnecessary for you to attend the doctor’s appointments, these visits give you the opportunity to feel connected to your little one.
At the same time, your involvement can be beneficial for maintaining a connection with your partner. You can learn how to be a supportive husband during pregnancy, helping to improve life at home. Things are starting to change in your relationship, and you have the chance to create an environment where you can grow and thrive together.
Tip #2: Encourage Healthy Habits at Home
Every bite taken by the mom-to-be will affect both her and the baby. The healthiest diet during pregnancy should include fruits and vegetables, as well as calcium-rich foods, lean protein, and whole grains. Important building blocks are needed to support the baby’s growth, such as vitamins, minerals, iron, protein, folic acid, and calcium.
You can encourage your partner to maintain a healthy diet by participating in these healthy choices as well. Maintaining your own health during this time is important, so you have the energy and wellness when the baby arrives. Assist with grocery shopping and meal prep. Mothers should avoid tobacco and alcohol, and you might find it helpful to minimize your use of these substances as well.
Tip #3: Honor the Nesting Instinct
As the pregnancy progresses, your partner will have the instinct to “nest.” She’ll want to clean the house, prepare the nursery, and ensure that the baby's clothing and supplies are ready to go. Right now is the perfect time to bring in the toolbox for crib assembly and purchase any last-minute items that might be needed, like diapers or a car seat.
At this point, you should step up to help with more of the household chores. Even if she is willing to do the housework, her physical capabilities will be limited by the big belly and swollen ankles.
Tip #4: Your Role is to Support
It has been found that dads who play an active role during the pregnancy can help to reduce the mom’s stress levels. This result benefits both mom and baby: when stress goes down, it creates a healthier environment where the baby can grow.
The physical symptoms of pregnancy can be quite uncomfortable, and these challenges will change through each trimester. For example, nausea and morning sickness is common in the first trimester. You can provide support by ensuring she has access to Saltine crackers and herbal remedies or medications to control nausea.
As the pregnancy progresses, nausea might go down. But other physical changes will start to happen, and you will notice it affects her during the day and night. Often, women toss and turn in bed and have to use the bathroom multiple times. Accommodate her by ensuring room in the bed for her body pillow or adjusting the thermostat to make sure she is comfortable.
Tip #5: Choose Your Words Carefully
Too often, soon-to-be-dads end up in the doghouse because of seemingly innocent comments that are made during pregnancy. Remember that hormones can impact moods and sensitivity, which is why you might want to be a little more careful about what you choose to talk about during this time.
For example, how will she react if you talk about how you didn’t sleep well last night? You might be tired, but it probably pales in comparison to the rough night she had as she was trying to find a comfortable position for her growing belly.
Tip #6: Honor the Birth Plan
As the grand finale draws near, the mom-to-be will want to create a birth plan. This detailed description will list her desires and preferences, including where the delivery will happen, who will attend, and the roles of the people in the room.
When the labor is intense, she needs someone who can be an advocate for the birth plan. The hope is that everything will go according to plan. But there are potential circumstances that could change how things happen. You will need to be ready to assist with critical decisions in the moment, and know what the back-up plan is if something needs to be changed.
It can be helpful to include birthing classes as part of the preparation for birth. Talk to the doctor or midwife for recommendations about couples’ classes. Most communities offer resources to assist with everything from labor & delivery to newborn care and more.
What to Expect in Each Trimester?
During the first trimester, the pregnancy won’t be visible yet, but you will notice differences in your interactions. At this point, you can begin gathering information and learn about your child’s development and things that are coming up in the pregnancy.
If your partner is one of the 70% who has experienced morning sickness, she is probably starting to feel a bit better during the second trimester. Her belly will be growing, which makes the pregnancy more visible to friends, family, and strangers. Maintain open communication, so you know the best ways to support her needs. You might consider birthing classes at this point. It’s also smart to take a class that teaches CPR for children, so you have these important skills in case of an emergency.
When the third trimester hits, it means the exciting day is just around the corner! This is the time when you can really start to focus in on the last-minute details that need to be finalized, so your home is ready for the new arrival.
What Happens to the Father During Pregnancy?
Don’t underestimate your role in the pregnancy! As a first-time dad, you can participate in all stages of the pregnancy, helping you form a close bond with the child. Both you and your partner need nurturing and emotional security.
The birth of your first child is a significant event that will have a life-changing impact. You can share in the responsibility of caring for the mother and baby, helping to build a solid foundation for your new family. Even though you are carrying added responsibility for the upcoming birth, it is a great opportunity to connect with your partner. Schedule special time together, such as a “babymoon,” so you can enjoy a relaxing getaway before the baby comes.