An Expectant Dad's Guide to Pregnancy
You got her pregnant, but are you ready for the nine month roller coaster? Consider this your expectant father’s survival guide.
From now until you snip the cord, a lot may happen that no one will have
prepared you for ahead of time. There's no way to anticipate every possible
scenario, but you need not be completely in the dark. It's also good to have an
idea of ways you can be helpful to the mom-to-be.
The thing about men and pregnancy is that there's only so much you can do --
the expectant mother really does all the work. She also gets all the attention.
We all know she deserves it -- and then some -- but it's a common source of
tension for couples during pregnancy, says Leonard Boulanger, a clinical social
worker and fatherhood specialist for the Visiting Nurse Association and Hospice
of Vermont and New Hampshire. "In the whole process, the father feels that
he is being ignored," Boulanger tells WebMD.
Getting involved early and "at every level," Boulanger says, not
only makes things easier for the mother, but it also keeps you from feeling
Preparing the Nest
When people talk about the changes that happen in pregnancy, they tend to
say a lot about changes in the mother's body and her moods. Less tends to be
said about changes in your home, which may interest you just as much as your
pregnant partner's swelling bosom.
Assuming that you have been living together for at least a little while,
you've settled into a domestic routine. "Expect that things she used to do
are no longer easy for her to do; and even if she's willing, she won't be able
to do as much," Paul Woods, MD, a family doctor (and father of four) in
Hibbing, Minn., tells WebMD. "You'll willingly need to step up to the plate
and do more things around the house than ever before."
Now that you're soon to be a family, your home also will contain a lot more
stuff. In come the crib, changing table, nursing rocker, bassinet, swing,
stroller, and car seat, plus all the baby toys and gadgets that you never knew
existed, but which you now must have. If you plan to set up a nursery, get
ready to decorate. Crib sheets and bumper patterns will become important topics
you must be prepared to discuss at great length. Pregnant women are cautioned
to avoid paint fumes, so of course all the painting they want done falls to
You may not be able to match the mom-to-be's level of enthusiasm, but your
participation counts. "Just smile and repaint for the third time,"
Things will be different in the bedroom, too. The bed you share may seem
less cozy as she becomes more uncomfortable and sleeps fitfully, making
frequent trips to the bathroom in the night. You can help by accommodating her
graciously -- for example, by making room for her gigantic body pillow. You may
even lose your bedmate for a while, because some pregnant women prefer to sleep
in a reclining chair. Sex during pregnancy is a whole other matter on which
plenty has been written.
Remember also that all smoking inside your home has to stop right away.
Secondhand smoke is very bad for the baby.