Your partner is pregnant, now what?
As a male partner, it may sometimes feel like you are only spectating your partner’s pregnancy from the sidelines. However, a partner’s involvement during pregnancy facilitates the bond you will share with the baby, plus it builds the foundation for your new or expanding family. The next nine months will be trying, and she will want to know that you are there to love and support her. So although the mother-to-be will be constantly reminding you of all she is going through for this child, do not feel left out - get involved! With these tips, you will soon be saying “We’re Pregnant!”
Respond appropriately to the news that she is pregnant
This is where it all begins. When your partner is getting ready to tell you the news, she is likely scared, nervous, excited, but most of all – she is hinging on your initial reaction. If you were not planning on having a new addition to the family, do not respond in a negative way or else it could be devastating for her; try to be excited about the news. If you and your partner had already discussed your desire to not have a child, then she will be especially nervous and it would be best if you did not overly fake positive emotion; instead, clearly express your love and support despite the pregnancy being unplanned. She wants to be reassured that you will rise to the occasion and be a great father.
- Inappropriate responses include:
- asking why she wasn’t using her birth control
- saying that you don’t need this right now because of all the things you already have on your plate
- storming off
The initial reaction to this news will go a long way in the following nine months to making her feel confident and secure about the pregnancy.
Equip yourself with knowledge
You have already looked this article up, so we know you are a knowledge seeker. There are plenty of resources out there for expecting fathers: hundreds of books, a plethora of web pages and forums, and the occasional magazine article or two. The more you know about the pregnancy, the better equipped you will be to empathize and help your partner. Look up all the developmental stages throughout the pregnancy; know when your child’s heart begins to beat, when the vestigial tail goes away, or when their eyes move from the sides of the head to the front. Some great books to check out are:
· Be Prepared by Gary Greenberg and Jeannie Hayden
· Dad’s Guide to Pregnancy For Dummies by Matthew M. F. Miller and Sharon Perkins
· The New Dad's Survival Guide: Man-to-Man Advice for First-Time Fathers by Scott Mactavish
· Dude, You're Gonna Be a Dad!: How to Get (Both of You) Through the Next 9 Months by John Pfeiffer
Attend all prenatal appointments with your partner
Not only does accompanying her show that you will be a caring and supportive father, but this will also provide you with the most important information about the pregnancy. Checkups let you know what development is going on at that time, and could help you prepare in ways you can help your partner. Take note of what the doctor says, your memory could serve to help your partner – it is not always easy to remember all the foods to avoid or what kind of exercises to shy from. If you have a strict work schedule that makes it difficult to attend every prenatal appointment, aim to at least attend one appointment in the first trimester, one in the second trimester, and then continually more as your partner gets closer to her due date. Do your best to attend these crucial doctors’ appointments; there is nothing that creates a closer fetus/father bond than listening to your child’s heart beat or witnessing the sonogram and seeing your child’s hands and feet.
Look out for her emotional well-being
Aside from the physical roller coaster, your partner is also going through some emotional turmoil – she will want to turn to you to vent about all her discomfort. She could feel weird about her body. She might be wondering if she’ll be a good mom, scared of what labor will be like, or nervous about the possibility of a C-Section; comfort her, even if it is in the middle of the night. Be a good listener and offer her support; look after her emotional well-being as well as her physical health. Studies have shown that the emotions that the mother experiences during pregnancy alters the hormones that can affect the fetus. Tell her she is beautiful, take her out for ice cream; the smallest things can lift her spirits and create a better pregnancy experience. Imagine that your efforts are even making the baby happier. If she is concerned with any strange symptoms, research them for her. Hopefully everything is normal and telling her so will show that you took the time and effort to look after her well-being.
Help her through the morning sickness
Morning sickness occurs to around 75% women and is consider by most as the worst part of pregnancy. Morning sickness takes a toll on the body, with symptoms such as headaches, nausea and vomiting. These symptoms occur from around 2-8 weeks after conception. Nausea and vomiting is likely caused by the increase in hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) and estrogen levels, but currently the full reason is unknown by medical professionals. Although morning sickness is an unpleasant experience, it does not mean the pregnancy is abnormal or in need of medical help – some studies even claim that morning sickness is a good sign. To lend a hand, you can offer some of these remedies to your partner:
- Vitamin B6 supplements. Studies have shown that vitamin B6 supplements can alleviate the symptoms of morning sickness.
- Seasickness bracelets. Seasickness bracelets are elastic bands with plastic bumps that apply pressure to points on the wrist. Supposedly this pressure can reduce the feelings of nausea.
- Ginger ale. The fizziness of ginger ale or any other clear soda can help with nausea. And ginger has been shown to reduce the symptoms of morning sickness. Most popular brands of ginger ale do not have any real ginger in them; look for smaller, independent brands that still use the real McCoy.
- Try the BRAT diet. Bananas, Rice, Apples and Toast – the BRAT diet consists of plain foods that are easy on the stomach, but also do a great job of filling the stomach, which can stave off the feelings of nausea. Remember that an empty stomach is more likely to catch bouts of nausea. Have her eat some BRAT before she even gets out of bed.
- Ginger or peppermint tea. As with ginger, peppermint has been shown to help reduce the feelings of nausea associated with morning sickness.
- Be wary of foods that trigger nausea. Some foods will be repulsing to your partner one day, and the next it will be the only thing that appeals to her. Be flexible and cater to her appetite. Be willing to run out and buy whatever she craves.
- Keep yourself clean. Pregnant women become hypersensitive to smells. Even scents she once enjoyed can now start her stomach churning. So brush your teeth and shower daily, also try to remove strong odors from the home such as candles and house cleaning products.
Enjoy what is to come!
You are not a mere bystander in the pregnancy. This pregnancy is the mark of a new chapter and can be the most meaningful time of your life. You will find yourself being needed by your partner and your family will be excited for you. Trust your gut feeling on things and allow for paternal instincts to kick in. The more involved you become the more you will get out of being an expectant parent.
1. LeVay, Simon, Janice I. Baldwin, and John D. Baldwin. Discovering Human Sexuality. Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates, 2012. Print.
Last Updated 12 May 2014.