Expecting a baby can be two different stories for an expectant mom and a dad-to-be. A drastic change is about to come into the family as a unit especially for first-timers. But, men should understand that these changes have taken over a woman’s body so much so that some may find pregnancy not so magical after all. This is where a man should step up to meet his partner halfway and involve himself in the process.
Your Participation Is Important
Research has shown that most new moms have a better experience during pregnancy when dads are actively involved. This makes your role essential and one you should never take for granted. Today, not only does your involvement benefit the mother and the child, but it also benefits you and how you develop your identity as a parent early on.
Always remember that the health of your baby depends on the health and well-being of the mother. Your participation as a partner is important even if you are not the one going through the physical changes.
Some may come into the process all ready and excited. But, you shouldn’t be guilty if you still feel rather clueless on what to do. Having found your way here, means that you are making an effort towards the right direction.
Nesting is not only for women since expectant fathers go through it too, but it may manifest in different ways. The instinct to provide and protect could be expressed by babyproofing the house, considering buying a family-friendly car, or working harder at the office. As a matter of fact, what you are doing now is an effort in that direction.
According to family therapist Mary Dodge to ParentMap, “Nesting’s both an expression of anxiety and an attempt at mastery of a new role.”
Men and Pregnancy
Behind all the excitement over a pregnancy is the reality of physical changes, financial preparation, and emotional preparedness among many others. You become an effective support system when you know what to expect within the coming months and the role you play in it.
Here’s a simple guide on how to support your pregnant partner:
Go With Her During Antenatal Visits
The pregnancy experience can be similar in a lot of ways and unique for several reasons. Your involvement can help you understand what is going on beyond what you can see, and empathize with what your partner is going through.
The main goal of these monthly visits is to prevent health problems in both the baby and the mother. These visits are also opportunities for you to gain foresight on what you need to prepare. Furthermore, this effort will also help you to be more open-minded and understanding to your partner’s emotional state and physiological needs.
LISTEN AND TALK. If you can learn how to support each other now, your relationship will be stronger when the baby arrives.
Listen and Talk
Pregnancy and childbirth can be a lot to handle, especially for first-time moms. The least that you can do is to be a reliable confidant whenever she wants to vent. She may feel anxious or lonely, especially when she starts her maternity leave from work. Encourage her to talk to you, to family, or her friends.
It is also normal to have worries of your own. It’s also healthy that you share these concerns with your partner. After all, you are in this together. This type of exchange will help you open up more to each other. This develops a healthy discussion on matters that concern your changing family dynamic. If you can learn how to support each other now, your relationship will be stronger when the baby arrives.
It’s also important that you talk and ask other people (e.g. your parents or friends who are fathers) for advice. As an expectant father you may struggle with the need to balance your own transition to fatherhood and that of your partner. Through this process, you may feel that your status and feelings are overlooked – which may create conflict with your other roles. If you find yourself in that state, never hesitate to ask for support and advice.
Help Her out
Hormonal changes can make a pregnant woman tire easily. So, you have to be pitch in with the household chores. The physical changes your partner is going through may make it harder for her to perform her usual tasks. For example, lower back aches are common during the third trimester, so you might have to do the heavy shopping yourself. You can also support her by eating healthy too so that it will be easier for her to follow through with the doctor’s diet restrictions.
Your positive participation can help allay your partner’s stress, and it has profound benefits to her health and that of the baby’s. All these efforts to help out are significant expressions of love and care, telling your partner that she is not alone.
PLAN TOGETHER. Going to her pre-natal visits is like scoring VIP tickets where you get to ask the doctor straight away.
If your partner is keen on doing a birth plan, it is important that you also take part in the planning. Your involvement in the planning will help you become an effective support system and advocate during the labour and delivery process. This will also help you to be more prepared and less anxious when the big day arrives. It is also important to attend to arrangements needed for preparation when baby comes home like preparing the nursery, washing all the baby clothes and nursing equipment, installing the car seat or getting the confinement nanny in.
Read or Attend Supplementary Classes
You may feel a bit mystified by all the changes that are happening inside your partner’s belly. Fortunately, there are several resources to educate you. Going to her pre-natal visits is like scoring VIP tickets where you get to ask the doctor straight away. On your own time, you can also peruse magazines, books, or blogs. You may also attend childbirth classes along with your partner.
A well-prepared father has a positive effect on his partner’s birth experience. Knowing what to expect can reduce your fear of seeing your partner in pain during the labour process.
Men and Fatherhood
Experience may be the best teacher, but that will come afterwards. For now, preparedness will help you handle your new responsibility better. You extend your circle of concern from your wife to your new bundle of joy. Now you get to wear another hat for another role, and here are some tips you should keep in mind:
Change Your Habits
Did you know that your habits may indirectly affect your baby even in utero? Cigarette smoking, for example, can be detrimental to your baby. Your second-hand smoke can pose the following risks:
Check your lifestyle and see what you need to change to ensure that you create a safe and healthy environment for your family.
Know Child-Care Basics
Supporting your wife also means knowing the basics of child-care. Fortunately, for you today, there is a variety of sources to help you out. You can read about it or learn from classes, friends, or family. Fathers must learn how to at least prepare formula milk, change a dirty diaper, or bathe the baby. In this way, you can take over when your partner needs to rest.
Check Out Benefits Offered By The Government
The Singapore Government offers a paid paternity leave for two weeks. You can check here, to see if you are eligible and to choose among the different arrangement options.
The government also offers a Baby Bonus Scheme which will help families defray the costs of raising a child. It comprises a Child Development Account (CDA), a cash gift, and a special co-savings scheme for children. You can learn more about it, here.
While your partner may be able to cover certain aspects of this, it is up to you to do some serious handiwork. Baby proofing your house may include the following:
- Installing smoke detectors
- Installing a baby camera
- Blocking all open outlets with safety plugs
- Latching closed any drawers, doors, or cupboards that could be within baby’s reach
If you are an expectant dad, know that you don’t have to sit on the sidelines because you can be a proactive participant during the entire pregnancy process. If you have questions, feel free to send them here.
Dr Pamela Tan is a board certified obstetrician and gynecologist in Singapore. She finished her undergraduate studies at the National University of Singapore and earned her post-graduate degree at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in the UK. She is an accredited specialist by the Specialist Accreditation Board (Ministry of Health), and a fellow of the Academy of Medicine, Singapore. She subspecialises in colposcopy and is certified to perform Level 3 minimally invasive keyhole surgeries such as laparoscopic hysterectomy, myomectomy and cystectomy. Dr Pam also supports the natural birthing method and she strives to provide a personalised care and treatment for each patient.