Pregnancy and childbirth is a mother’s domain but that does not keep the expectant father away from the loop. A new expectant father will be having the same jitters and anxiety which a new mother would be feeling. A would-be father too undergoes a transition which is completely new to him. Life has already changed for him post the news of pregnancy and there is pressure on him to be a good dad. From being up at night to changing diapers, a man will also and should have responsibilities towards his child. Understand your man and his anxieties while showing him how to be a better father!
Since pregnancy is an exclusive event which happens only in a woman’s life, most men either are completely clueless about it or are plain anxious. Women are also aware of this ignorance in the man’s part and do not try too hard as they have their own pregnancy discomforts to deal with. But, all you expectant fathers out there have now one more thing to surprise your spouse with i.e. taking active part in the pregnancy.
Anxieties of Permanence
Chris Mancini, author of Pacify Me: A Handbook for the Freaked-Out New Dad, most fathers who freak out at the thought of their wife being pregnant feel so because everything else in life is impermanent i.e. the house, the marriage, car, job, etc but a baby is not. “We can always sell the house, get a divorce, quit a job, run off and join the circus, etc…You can get out of a marriage. You can’t get out of having a child. You can only leave a child. You’ve brought this life into this world and you’re responsible for it.”
Anxieties of a poor sex life
An expectant father will support his woman while she lives through the crucial pregnancy term, but the thought of no sex for months will definitely cross his mind more than once in a day. It is important for the father to keep in mind that he abstains from hurting the mother emotionally and physically.
When Harlen Cohen, writer of Dad’s Pregnant too!, interviewed 100 men and pregnant women from all over the world, he came up with this list of what a man should not do when the woman is pregnant.
[Read: Prepare for Getting Pregnant]
Anxieties of Wife’s death
When the expectant father sees all the blood that his wife is losing during the first few weeks of pregnancy, he is likely to take every small sign of pregnancy no matter how normal for the woman, as a sign of threat.
Participate in this nine months rollercoaster ride with these tips.
Deal with your mixed emotions: Pregnancy jitters without the bump is a common symptom in expectant dads! You may feel like a bag of emotions like shock, panic, being overwhelmed and helpless – relax, all these feelings are normal. These emotions may be extremely raw and intense if the pregnancy was unplanned and even if it was planned, men will be men and will feel the same! Upon hearing the pregnancy news it is normal to feel so and you should not feel guilty about your thoughts. Becoming a first time father is a huge change and the transition is certainly not easy, especially when you are not prepared. Questions will keep on popping in your head through the pregnancy and you would need the silence the mental chatter by believing in yourself and preparing for D-day. Is it too early? Am I ready to be father? Will I be a good parent? Will I love my baby? Questions galore but answers you can seek by asking yourself, sharing with your partner, family and friends.
Be expressive and attentive: You may not be as excited as your spouse about the pregnancy as you cannot feel the baby or experience any changes in your body. Even if you cannot ‘feel’ the unborn, you can always enjoy your spouse’s experience and her joy of pregnancy by taking part in simple little things. Feel the baby move or talk to you baby in the womb. Click pictures of the growing baby bump every month as it will be an interesting memoir even after the birth of baby. Be attentive about the discomforts your spouse may be facing and lend a helping hand whenever you can. Be it a back rub, massaging her feet or anything to make her feel special. Show your thankfulness by doing little gestures such as bringing her flowers, serving her breakfast in bed and other things. Express yourself in words or actions, whatever you are comfortable with.
Be available and take interest: Always remember that your spouse has made a huge sacrifice by having a baby of both of yours. For nine months she’ll be facing pain and discomfort to give birth to a new life which will need nurturing and care which your wife can only provide best. The least you can do is take interest in the pregnancy and be present beside her at all times possible. Be there for prenatal and postnatal tests and procedures. Go along with her for doctor’s appointments and get closer to the baby by hearing tiny heartbeats and the baby’s image during ultrasound. Take care of her needs, of any medications that she may be required to have or any diet which she has to follow. Make her feel special and cared for.
Compliment her and make her feel special: It is natural during pregnancy for a woman to feel insecure about her looks along with the growing baby bump. She may be having doubts about your affection and love towards her in her new avatar. You need to understand her emotions and reassure her of how special she is and how beautiful her glowing face looks. Your sex life would be dormant during this time but you can have intimacy in a different level which can be equally satisfying. During pregnancy, a different level of bonding gets established between husband and wife which is not physical in nature; it is more about emotional and spiritual connection.
Follow her routine to give her company: Pregnancy can make a woman give up many things which she likes to do such as late nights, fast food or even smoking and alcohol. Make it easier for her by being supportive about the positive lifestyle changes by following the same pattern like her. Stop smoking especially as it can be extremely bad for the baby in the womb. Give up alcohol or have it only occasionally. Get healthy regarding your diet and ditch the fast food. Start giving her company in an exercise routine or any classes that she would have joined.
Talk and share: Both you and your spouse should be bonding during this transitional phase. It is better to express your emotions of anxiety, happiness or any other random emotion. Be a rock solid support for your wife as she needs it the most. Share about your dreams or ideas or anything which can help both of you understand each other better as ‘would-be’ parents.
Exercise patience and be understanding: A woman goes through drastic hormonal changes which can make her cranky, demanding, have cravings and typically experience a rollercoaster of emotions! Be the saner one, after all you are in control of your hormones! Understand her mood swings without getting angry at her, understand her emotional outbursts are not intentional and be always available to neutralize high strung situations.
Your presence in the labor room: Being present while your spouse is giving birth to your baby might be a magical moment for some husbands while for others it might not even be an option they would like to consider. It is completely a personal decision which a father and his partner would have to decide. There are antenatal classes which prepare expectant dads for their role in the delivery room. It can be a great experience to provide support to your wife while she is in labor and watch your baby born but if you think that you would be unable to handle the situation, it is better that you should not volunteer. Some fathers can get the jitters by seeing their better halves cry in pain during labor and feel helpless. While other fathers can handle the ‘scene’ in a delivery room and look forward to holding the newborn first. It is a personal as well as a ‘couple’ decision, so decide beforehand.
Read more articles on Pregnancy