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Health & Pregnancy

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What Dads Expect When They're Expecting

What Dads Expect When Mom is Expecting

Venus and Mars Can Share the Same Air continued...

Not that he wasn't knocked off balance by the newness and tumult of it all -- Louden's sudden mood swings and fears they both shared about the structure a baby would bring to their previously carefree lives. The key was that they talked about everything, a lot.

"Jennifer would read books and explain things to me," Mosio says. "She'd say, 'This is what happens to my hormones, ad maybe this is why I'm acting a little crazy,' " he says. "Men are sort of know-it-alls, but once you let that go, it opens the door to understanding how the woman is feeling." That, he says, helped them stay connected.

Experts emphasize that women need to let their partners in on what's happening to them, particularly since men often feel frustrated and powerless to help their mate through any discomfort or pain of the pregnancy, labor or delivery. "If the woman's not very communicative, then she's never giving a lead, and he never hooks into anything," explains Issokson.

They need to listen to men's fears, too. "She needs to encourage him to talk about what's going on with him," Brott says. There may not be a whole lot you can do about something, but just sharing these feelings, and acknowledging that there's nothing wrong with them, can help, he says. And don't forget to share the joys, as well. "You can just talk about how delightfully happy you both are that this is going to happen," Brott says.

Brott suggests that one of the best ways for men to get involved in the pregnancy from the start is to go to all the prenatal visits. "You may just be sitting there twiddling your thumbs, but it will at least bring you into the process. Listen to the heartbeat, watch the ultrasound, do whatever you can. The earlier you get involved, the more you're going to be a part of the thing; and the more involved a father you are, the better your child is going to turn out."

Studies have shown that children -- and parents, too -- benefit substantially from the relationships forged with fathers early on. Not only are the children more socially and emotionally adjusted later, but they tend to be smarter. Marriages also are happier, which contributes to more satisfying, and possibly even healthier, lives of the parents.

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