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Health & Pregnancy

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.
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Preparing the Nest continued...

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," Woods advises.

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.

Prenatal Visits and the Expectant Father

A generation or two ago, it was unusual for an expectant father to be present during labor, let alone hang out with his pregnant wife in the exam room when she saw her doctor. Now dads are encouraged to go to prenatal care appointments.

Assuming that all goes well, there will be about 15 routine prenatal visits scheduled with varying frequency: once a month until 28 weeks, three or four times up to week 36, and once a week for the last month.

If you can make time to join your partner at all or most appointments, she will likely appreciate it, and you'll benefit from knowing what's going on. Two visits in particular are especially worthwhile: the first appointment, and the prenatal ultrasound exam. "As a physician, I want the dad there for the first appointment to talk about what will happen, and to determine parents' preferences," Woods says.

During the exam, the doctor should give both of you some general advice on having a healthy pregnancy and address any specific medical issues. You can help by paying close attention and asking thoughtful questions. The exam typically involves simple things like collecting urine and blood samples from the mother, taking her blood pressure, measuring around her middle, and weighing her.

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