Becoming a Dad
Congratulations! You’re about to become a dad! This is one of the most exciting times in your life for both you and your partner, and the closer the two of you are the more you’ll be able to share the experience of pregnancy and birth. However, you will need to be in tune with how your wife or partner is feeling throughout her pregnancy to give her the most support you can.
In the early weeks (around 4-14 weeks of pregnancy) she may feel very tired and sick, and be irritable about things that seem minor to you. In the middle months (around 15-26 weeks of her pregnancy) she may enjoy her pregnancy the most, and may not want to be given special treatment any more at this time. Then, later in pregnancy (around 27-40 weeks) the baby can feel very heavy and so her tiredness and irritability may return. She may also start to feel anxious or worried about giving birth, or – if she has left work – miss the company of her colleagues.
If your partner is anxious, encourage her to talk about it and be patient with her. Remember - if you can learn to support each other now, your relationship will be all the stronger when the baby arrives and you both start feeling extra tired!
Finding the best ways to help your partner is usually far simpler than you think, and a good tip is to start by sharing the housework, if you don’t already do so. There are two areas where you can be helpful – cooking and shopping. In the early months of her pregnancy the smell of cooking may make her feel queasy so if you cook she’s more likely to eat what she needs. When shopping, carry the heavy shopping for her to prevent any strain on her back.
Eat as healthily as you can together as this can get you used to healthy food habits you’ll want to pass on to your child, and if you smoke do try to quit. If you can’t stop then don’t smoke near your partner. Go with her to the doctor if she’s worried, or be sure to talk it through when she gets home and – and this is a big one for most mums! - be there if she has a scan, and see your baby on the screen. Find out about antenatal classes for couples, as the more you know about labour, the more you’ll be able to help her. If you prefer not to be present, talk to your partner and listen to how she feels as she may want you to be there above everything.
What about sex in pregnancy?
There is usually no medical reason to avoid sex in pregnancy, but always be very sensitive to how your partner is feeling and remember that her breasts may be very tender in the early weeks and that you may need to try out a few different positions as the pregnancy progresses. If you're not having sex, find other ways of being close, but above all do talk about it. Some men find it difficult to make love during pregnancy as they may feel uncomfortable about their partner's changing body shape, or be afraid that they may somehow harm the baby. If this is happening to you, talk about it but be sensitive to how your partner might feel. She may well feel uneasy about her changing body and may be hurt if she thinks that you don’t like her appearance.
Be prepared for the birth
As the delivery date gets closer, always make sure you can be contacted at all times and have a plan as to how you’ll get to the hospital. If you’re using your own car, make sure it works and has petrol, and do a trial run to see how long it takes to get from your house to the hospital. Remember to pack a bag for yourself, including snacks, a camera, and your phone or loose change for a payphone.
Watching your baby coming into the world can be the most incredible experience and the midwife may hand you the baby. Don’t be afraid of hurting your new baby - hold the baby close to your body and don’t worry if you burst into tears! Remember that your partner may be exhausted and want to go to sleep as soon as she can, or she may be so excited that sleep is the last thing on her mind. Give her as much support as you can at this time – she has just done all the hard work! Have everything ready for when you come home as a family, and try to do as much as you can for her in the early days at home so that she is able to get some well-deserved sleep.