Pregnancy can be a strange time for expectant dads.
13:36 03 June 2009
Pregnancy can be a strange time for expectant dads. While mums-to-be
have clear physical evidence of the great psychological and hormonal
changes taking place, dads have nothing physical to show for the
changes they are going through.
This article also appears on www.bbc.co.uk/parenting/having_a_baby
Preparing to be a dad
Once your partner's bump is visible, friends and acquaintances " not
to mention complete strangers " will start asking questions about the
pregnancy and your future baby.
You may start to feel left out. It's common, especially when you're
expecting your first child, to find that nobody asks you how the
pregnancy is going and how you are feeling.
You may find that if you start talking about how excited you feel,
others will be uncomfortable and leave you feeling you've entered
'female territory'. This needn't be the case.
Expecting a child can raise lots of questions. You, your partner and
people important to you could think about the following issues.
You too are going through a momentous experience.
Be aware you may have a whole range of new thoughts and feelings when
your partner is pregnant. Questions will come up at any time during
pregnancy but could be particularly striking during the first
trimester. Do I feel ready to become a father? How do I feel about
fathering a son/daughter? How will I cope with the financial
expectations of a growing family? How do I feel about my partner
becoming a mum? Will the baby be all right? Will my partner be all
- Pregnancy should be a shared experience.
Your partner may be fully immersed in her own thoughts and feelings,
hopes and fears, as the pregnancy progresses. But pregnancy is a shared
experience " albeit with two very different perspectives. You and your
partner need to remember to take the time to listen to one another, and
talk about what is going on for each of you. Be aware that her body is
changing and be sensitive to her feelings about this. Physical changes
can be tough at the best of times, without the additional hormones
flying around during pregnancy.
- Take time to talk with other dads.
It can help to talk about your hopes and fears with others who are
expecting a baby. Other dads can be especially good listeners as they
may have had similar joys and worries.
- Talk and plan with your partner.
You have two important parts to play as you wait for your baby to
arrive. Talking and planning together for the birth and raising of your
child can take up many enjoyable hours. You'll want to talk over the
birth plan, the care your partner is going to need and how you'll sort
out those first few weeks when you want to be together after your baby
is born. There are many other issues to discuss " breastfeeding versus
bottle feeding, to use a dummy or not, to have the baby in your room or
their own. Choosing your baby's name together can cause laughter and
even some disagreement. Offer as much support at home as you can
muster. Cooking for your partner in later months will ensure she and
the baby get healthy food they need without having to cook and cope
with the smell that may make her queasy.
- Be as sensitive as you can.
Your partner may not feel like making love as often as normal while
pregnant. Try to be sensitive to her needs, and do not take it as
rejection. However, some women find they have a higher sex drive while
pregnant. If this is the case, indulge as much as you are both able,
but make sure your partner is comfortable. Familiar positions may
become tricky as the pregnancy progresses. If your partner experiences
any pain or bleeding you should avoid intercourse and contact your
doctor.You can develop a relationship with your unborn baby.
Stroke your partner's tummy, talk to your baby, give him or her a name
and respond to the ripples and kicks in later pregnancy. There's no
need to feel silly about talking to a tummy " research shows the unborn
baby recognises and responds to different sounds in the womb and can
distinguish between light and dark.
- Take part.
Some dads actually come out in 'morning sickness sympathy' with their
pregnant partners. That's a little extreme, but you can attend
antenatal checkups and scans and join antenatal classes. This will help
you feel fully involved and informed. You could also help prepare a
room for your baby and make joint shopping trips to choose clothes and
See our feature on Dads: birth, to think ahead about your role in labour.