Pregnancy : What dad needs to know
IntroductionYour partner has just given you the news: she's pregnant and soon you're going to be a dad! This is exciting news, but it may make you feel a little anxious: your life is about to change – as will the physical appearance of your partner. Although you don't know what to expect, there's no need to panic. You have 9 months to get ready for the arrival of your child, and being a little worried is perfectly normal. During this unique period, you're going to have to help and support the mother-to-be – as well as gradually preparing yourself for fatherhood. Together, we will find out what you can do best prepare for this major event in your life. Providing day-to-day support for the mother-to-be Pregnancy is a major upheaval for your partner – both physically and emotionally. Throughout the nine-month period that is just beginning, she will need your support. • Starting in the first few weeks, she may suffer from – sometimes intense – nausea. To help her feel better, take on as much responsibility as you can for preparing meals. That way, she won't have to handlecertain foods that might make her feel sick. Also remember to bring her something to eat before she gets up in the morning. That can sometimes help to relieve nausea. • Overall, pregnancy is extremely tiring for mothers-to-be. Take over as many physical tasks as possible and encourage her to rest. If you ever think that she is not looking after herself enough during her pregnancy, talk about it with her and give her the help and support she needs so that she can slow things down a little. • You may also be surprised by her mood swings: these are mainly due to hormonal changes, which can sometimes make her extremely sensitive. Be patient and listen to her. Reassure her if she seems anxious. • As the second trimester gets under way, the weight of her stomach will start to make your partner feel tired. Certain physical activity may seem strenuous – even just remaining standing. Do everything you can to support her: run errands, carry heavy things, do the housework and the cooking. • If she gets backache or if her legs feel heavy (something which often affects women in the final stages of pregnancy), give her a massage to help her relax. These are also great bonding moments. • Couples' sex lives are often affected during pregnancy, and your partner's libido may be less intense than usual. Sometimes, pregnancy can also affect physiological responses. A lack of vaginal lubrication, pain during penetration and uterine contractions after orgasm can all lessen her desire. Be patient and understanding. Being involved in the pregnancy Even in the early stages of pregnancy, your partner will feel all the changes under way in her body. It will all still be relatively abstract for you – and you may have difficulty feeling as involved as she does in this impending major event. But there are many little things you can do that will help you become more aware of your future role as a father and demonstrate your commitment to the mother-to-be. • If you can, go with her to her appointments with the gynecologist or midwife for her checkups. That way, you'll be able to get answers to any questions you may have and you'll also hear the tips and recommendations given to your partner. Starting in the second month of the pregnancy, you'll also be able to hear the new baby growing in her stomach by listening to the ultrasounds. A magical and sometimes overwhelming sound that will help make the pregnancy more real for both of you. • Similarly, make sure you can be there for her ultrasounds, this way you can see your baby and see just how active he is and how much he moves. After each examination, feel free to ask any questions you may have for the doctor or ask to see the few images of your child again if you want. • When you are choosing which method to use for preparing for the birth, think about haptonomy: defined as the science of affectivity, it gives the future dad a key role to play. Sessions can begin as soon as your partner starts to feel the baby's movements. Based on interacting with your child by special touching, haptonomy provides you with a unique channel for establishing affective communication with him. • Feel free to help your partner choose the maternity hospital. Even though it is usually the mom-to-be who chooses the maternity hospital based on how she wants to give birth, give your opinion: the way in which dads are welcomed as they get ready for the birth - both in the delivery room and during their stay in the maternity hospital - are criteria that are just as important for you as they are for her! Their willingness to pay attention to the role that you want to have in relation to your partner during and after the birth is important for helping you to get used to the idea of being a father. • Once your partner has started to feel the baby move, give it a go yourself, placing your hands on the base of her stomach. Don't expect to feel any strong movements right at the beginning. Instead, it'll be more of a presence filling your hand, or a sensation a little like bubbles bursting. If you still can't feel anything, be patient and try again a few days later. • Once you have succeeded in feeling your baby move, set aside a little time for fully communicating with him – every day if possible. That way, you won't just be able to touch him through your partner’s stomach – you'll be able to talk to him, play music to him, etc. • To help you start thinking about the future with your child, get involved in the preparation for their arrival: paint their room, help choose furniture and select a stroller that will fill you with pride when you go for a walk with your baby! Your partner will definitely be touched to see you so involved.