Your partner is pregnant. You’re becoming a father.
You’ve just gotten used to the idea. Maybe even a little excited about it. Now what?
Wondering what to expect? How to help? How you’ll make it through?
Help is here. Keep reading for a quick guide to the most important things men need to know when they’ve got a baby on the way.
Involved Fathers are Heroes
First off, know that by being an involved father, you are doing something heroic. You will reduce your partner’s stress during pregnancy and increase your child’s likelihood of success in life. Sure, you have lots to learn, but you get major points just for doing the best you can.
One way to get yourself in sync with the pregnancy is to go to doctor’s appointments with your partner. Ask questions. Learn about what’s going on. Will there be an ultrasound (sonogram) done? Be there. Seeing your baby on that screen will be an experience like no other.
Many fathers feel a strong urge to protect and provide for this coming child, too. Some go through the house and fix things up in preparation for the baby’s arrival. Some start thinking about getting more hours at work or finding a second job. That’s because they want to be good providers. Talk these things over with your partner. She’ll be glad to know you’re taking this seriously. No matter how strong a woman she is, this will help her know you care about her—and about your family.
Support During Pregnancy is Huge
One of your main jobs during this pregnancy is to help your partner stay strong during all the changes coming her way. Following is a quick rundown on those changes and what you can do to support her when they happen.
Though these are good for the baby, they really mess with your partner’s body, mental function, and emotions. They contribute to–
- Nausea. Often called “morning sickness,” this can make her feel rotten just about any time of day. It’s usually worst in the first trimester (3 months), then gets better after that. Whether she vomits or just feels queasy, you can help by:
- Encouraging her to eat small snacks (and fetching them for her) to keep her tummy from being empty
- Keeping crackers where she can grab them right away in the morning
- Helping with meal prep, understanding that once-favorite foods may now turn her stomach (She’s extra sensitive to smell right now.)
- Helping her stay hydrated
- Mood swings. Being cheerful one minute and upset the next is not unusual. You can:
- Encourage her to have non-sugary snacks handy (to avoid the sugar rush/crash cycle)
- Listen, and listen again when she feels differently in an hour
- “Pregnancy Brain.” Science proves this is a thing. Hormones do a number on a woman’s brain during pregnancy. She may become forgetful or have brain fog. How to help?
- Offer to take on some of her responsibilities to lighten her mental load.
- Suggest ways to back up her memory—like writing important things down, getting a key finder to tag her keys/phone/wallet if she keeps misplacing them, etc.
- Assure her she’s not going crazy. This will pass after the baby is born.
- Let her rest—lack of sleep adds to the problem.
Your partner will put on weight, up to 25-35 pounds for an average-weight woman. Here is what to know:
- She should follow her doctor’s guidelines for healthy weight gain based on her pre-pregnancy weight and overall health.
- Some of the new weight is the baby’s, some is for the pregnancy “accessories” (amniotic fluid, placenta, enlarged uterus), and the rest is due to increased breast tissue, fat stores, blood volume, and other fluids.
- Her weight will begin to drop off after delivery—faster if she chooses to breastfeed the baby.
How can you help her respond to this change?
- Assure her often that she is still beautiful to you.
- Keep providing her with healthy foods, full of protein and complex carbohydrates.
- Encourage her to exercise appropriately, but balance that with time to rest.
Other Body Changes.
Your partner will probably experience:
- Breast tenderness. Be gentle and patient during hugging and lovemaking. This should improve after the first trimester.
- Pigmentation. The areolae around her nipples and the once-unnoticeable line that runs up her belly may darken. She may also have increased pigmentation on her face.
- Fluctuating desire for sex. While sex is almost always safe during pregnancy, it can be awkward or uncomfortable for her, especially during the last weeks or months. Talk together about what you are each okay with, and be patient when desire ebbs and flows.
Baby Gets Bigger and More Active.
Feeling your baby moving within your partner’s belly during the second trimester is exciting. It’s like making contact with your child for the first time. When their little elbow pushes on the womb, give a gentle push back and see what they do. Now is a good time to talk to your baby, or read or sing to them.
But as the baby’s due date approaches, be aware that your growing baby is squishing your partner’s organs into a smaller and smaller space. That means she’ll probably need to urinate often, find bowel movements difficult, and get heartburn after meals.
Help her find ways to get comfortable, especially at night. Some babies get more active at night, making it hard for Mom to sleep. Her back may ache from supporting two people all day long, and her feet may swell. Be understanding and work with her toward solutions.
Braxton Hicks “Practice Contractions”
Your partner may start feeling “practice contractions” around week 20. These Braxton Hicks contractions are how her uterus begins training for the real thing. Here’s what you need to know:
- Braxton Hicks contractions usually last 15-30 seconds (maybe longer) and occur irregularly. They usually go away if she changes her position.
- Real labor contractions are regular and more intense. They also last longer, from 30-70 seconds. They become closer together and more intense as labor progresses.
- One of the best ways to tell the difference between real labor and Braxton Hicks is by how regular the contractions are. Your doctor will give you guidelines for how close together contractions should be before you should head for the hospital.
- Before contractions ever kick in, you can help your partner stay calm by getting a suitcase ready for the trip to the hospital (see this post for ways to get ready)
Bring Her to Choices Pregnancy Center
If you live in or near Redwood Falls, Minnesota, there is more help available at Choices Pregnancy Center. We offer classes in childbirth, pregnancy, and parenting. We’ll be happy to walk this road with you, answering questions and helping you provide what you need for your child’s arrival with free Baby Bucks.
Contact us today
to find out how we can help you
become the father you really want to be.