As requested by one of my readers, I've decided to do three series on how dads can support their other half during pregnancy, labour and after pregnancy. Research shows mum-to-be have an overall better pregnancy experience when dads are actively involved throughout the journey. This post would focus on how dad can support mum-to-be during pregnancy.
#1 Get informed
One of the best ways to get to grips with the changes at hand and show your interest in your other half's pregnancy is to do your research on the topic. Learn about her body and the baby's development. Read books, search the web, and speak to your dad friends about pregnancy, birth and parenting. Find out what to expect, attend birth classes if possible and get advice from trusted friends and family who already have children about how to be a great parent.
There is an app these days for everything and pregnancy is not an exception. You can download some useful pregnancy apps on your phone such as baby center, Pregnancy +, What to expect or Sprout to keep you updated on this journey. My husband found the NHS information service for new parents most useful as they provided a weekly newsletter tailored for dads.
Remember, never rely on app or books- always consult your doctor first.
Even though growing a baby is exhausting both physically and emotionally, its vital that mum avoids stress as much as possible during pregnancy. The best place to help out is around the home especially since a bump in the way can make hovering the living area, cleaning the toilet or lifting heavy groceries much more difficult. Chores are usually not fun but it's for the good of your other half and your baby if you help around the house or hire a housekeeper if you can afford one. My husband can barely cook for example, however he would order takeout whenever I wasn't up to the task of cooking.
#3 Be there
In the United Kingdom, Fathers have the right to take unpaid time off work to accompany expectant mothers to up to 2 antenatal appointments. Whilst most working dads would be unable to attend all antenatal appointment, its important to attend the first scan around 12 weeks and the 20 weeks scan if possible. You would be surprised at how much you can learn during the appointments, and hearing the heartbeat of your baby or seeing your baby on the scan for the first time is a truly special experience. Experiencing this together will help you to bond, and make the fact that you're having a baby seem much more real.
When it comes to pregnancy, massage is definitely a great skill to have. Treat your other half to a relaxing massage every now and then to ease her aching body whether its shoulder rub, foot rub, lower back rub or all over body massages (get creative)- use a massage oil suitable for pregnancy.
Finally, ensure you can be contacted on phone at all times in case of an emergency which means your battery must always be charged.
#4 Listen and Communicate
Be a shoulder for her to cry on when she is finding the pregnancy challenging or feeling worried, listen to all her concerns, and offer her the support and reassurance she really needs. Whenever she seems anxious or stressed, do encourage her to talk through any problems or anxieties she may have. Talk things through with each other, if you are a Christian pray together. Furthermore, speak to friends and family who already have children as you will realise its normal for new parents to feel anxious about becoming parents.
Do tell her she looks good even when she doesn't feel good about her feet being swollen or waddling
like a penguin. Its important you make her feel attractive even if you secretly wish she had her old body back. Focus on the positive changes that might occur such as glowing skin, bigger boobs or glossy hair, and remember that the changes are temporary and for a good cause.
#5 Prepare for the baby's arrival
Babies would require so many things in their first few weeks such as a crib, car seat, nappies, clothing etc. Make sure you and mum are prepared for the new arrival into your home. Ensure you have the right items and the house is as baby-proofed as possible. Stock up the freezer and cupboards with enough food supply for the early days with your baby as it generally makes everyone's life easier.
What other tips can you suggest?