When a woman is pregnant, her partner is pregnant, too. It may seem as if the expectant mother gets all the attention to many fathers-to-be, but there are many things a spouse or partner can do to support the pregnancy and prepare himself for parenthood.
Participate in prenatal doctor visits
Go with the expecting partner to doctor visits. Ask questions. Listen to the baby’s heartbeat. Identify all its little parts during an ultrasound exam. Learn how to help duringlabor and delivery.
Bookstores and libraries are a wealth of information on a developing baby, childbirth, and parenthood. The internet puts these resources at your fingertips.
Make plans together
Decorate the nursery. Buy or borrow baby things. Decide who will do what baby-related chores. Even the best-planned baby comes with unexpected expenses so put away a little money each paycheck during the pregnancy for unexpected expenses, surprises, and treats...or college.
Get to class
Attend childbirth classes with the mother-to-be so you’ll know how to work together when the big day arrives.
Share healthy eating habits
A mother’s diet is vitally important to the developing baby. Make a healthy diet a family habit to encourage optimum health. Don’t tempt her by drinking alcoholic beverages in her presence since alcohol consumption during pregnancy can cause birth defects.
Avoid street drugs
Get help if this is a problem for you or your partner. Consult a physician about all drugs, including OTC and prescription drugs, that might be taken during pregnancy.
Do the cleaning
Aromatic household cleaners can cause nausea during pregnancy and toxic fumes can harm a developing fetus. Litter boxes can harbor a parasite that causes dangerous birth defects, so if there are cats in the household, make them your responsibility, Dad.
Maintain a peaceful, relaxing environment
Do things that encourage a good night’s sleep. Indulge in naps. Eliminate as many stressors from the household as possible. Do relaxation exercises and activities together that promote peace and harmony. Get counseling if anger, negativity, or abusive behaviors are part of the relationship. The baby can sense stress in the environment even before its born. Create a happy environment to come home to.
Have fun with sex
Sex is perfectly safe during most pregnancies and the bond of intimacy it creates encourages peace, health, and harmony. Explore her body as it changes and encourage her to say what feels best as the pregnancy advances.
Plan to feed the baby
Feeding creates a bond between parent and child, regardless of the method of feeding. If the baby is breastfed, pump milk into a bottle so the father can feed it on a regular basis. If bottle-feeding is the chosen method, take turns.
Play with the baby...before it’s born
Listen to its heartbeat. Feel its kicks. Tap on the mother’s stomach when the baby kicks and expect a response. Play this tapping game from the second trimester on. Talk to the baby. Sing to it. Communicate with it verbally, mentally, and emotionally. Visualize fatherhood the way you want it to be.
Learn infant massage
Take a class with the baby’s mother so you’ll both know how to gently soothe the baby even on days when it seems especially out of sorts.
Learn how to care for a baby
Learn how to hold it and feed it. How to bathe it and change diapers. Learn how to communicate and comfort a baby. The more you know, the more confident you will be as a father.
Talk to other fathers
Join a support group of new fathers. Ask questions, share fears, get advice, learn from their experiences.
Make eye contact
As soon as it’s born, hold the baby and look into its eyes. Talk or sing to it so it will recognize your voice from the conversations you had with it in the womb. Connect. Bond. Fall in love.
Many fathers feel left out of the pregnancy phase of parenthood. That could be because they don’t participate fully. Dive in. Take part. A family doesn’t start when the baby is born. If mom is pregnant, the family is already there.