The words “We’re pregnant” sound familiar these days. More than ever, men are actively involved throughout the pregnancy experience. The term expectant father really fits, as men support, worry, and plan right along with their pregnant partners. Some of the more common experiences for expectant dads are included here.
What he needs
Being an expectant father is exciting, but it also can be challenging. It calls for men to take on new roles, while also keeping everything in balance at work and at home. Even before birth, the baby can seem a bit like an intruder in a couple’s relationship. And, it’s not uncommon for a give-and-take relationship to become unbalanced when the physical and emotional demands of pregnancy take their toll. Some men feel resentful or frustrated, and then feel guilty about having those negative feelings. These are normal emotions, and it may help to share them with others who have “been there.” You’ll be surprised to learn that your feelings are pretty common and that gradually, you’ll find yourself adapting to the “dad” role.
Another surprise for some men is actually experiencing some of the same physical discomforts of pregnancy, right along with their partner. These “sympathetic” pregnancy feelings are officially known as couvade syndrome and can include morning sickness and weight gain. And, just like with Mom, the symptoms go away when the baby is born!
One of the common concerns for men is sex during pregnancy. Fortunately, having sex during pregnancy is not harmful, unless there are complications such as preterm labor, or the doctor has advised against it. The baby is tucked safely inside the uterus, protected by a cushion of fluid within the amniotic sac. Because sex can sometimes be uncomfortable for a pregnant woman, patience and some creative intimacy can help.
What she needs
Your pregnant partner’s needs are often confusing. It can be a rollercoaster ride with her rising hormones and changing body. Many men feel helpless when their partner is miserable with morning sickness or upset about feeling “fat.” And men are often frustrated when their offers of help and encouragement get a rebuff or tears. While men often want to fix a problem, in reality, women usually just need someone to hear them vent, be understanding when they complain, or be a shoulder to cry on. Giving her a back rub or offering to cook dinner can go a long way, too. But pregnant women do need encouragement and support from a knowledgeable partner. So, going to doctor visits with her can help you stay prepared for what’s coming next. Reading a few chapters from one of the many pregnancy books sure to be lying around the house is a good idea, too. And you may be surprised at what you can learn in childbirth classes.
Your partner needs to feel safe and secure. You play a big role in making sure she has healthy food to eat and a safe environment. As the baby’s due date nears, it’s important to help her get the house ready, settle any outstanding work issues, and have a plan in place for getting to the hospital.
You have an exciting ride ahead—pregnancy is a special time. By being an involved and knowledgeable partner, you’ll be able to enjoy the months leading up to the big day!