Dad’s To-Do List: How to Survive Pregnancy and Beyond
How to Survive Pregnancy and Beyond
During the nine months the two of you are waiting on your bundle of joy to arrive, a lot of things are changing for the mommy-to-be. Dad may feel a bit left out during this time and wonder how he can participate.
“It takes a while for it to feel real. As a mom carrying the baby, she experiences a lot more than I do. She feels movement and changes with her body as the pregnancy progresses. These are things that I am so far removed from and couldn’t possibly relate to,” Rudy Paredes, Overland Park dad, says. “In a way, it makes me feel like she’s having a lot more bonding time with the baby—which she is.”
Dads-to-be need to keep three main things in mind while preparing for fatherhood.
Communication Counts. The best person to ask about what the experience is like for your partner is your partner. Ask questions and listen when she tells you what is going on with her and the baby.
“Nine months seems like a long time, but in hindsight, it passes very quickly, and strong communication is critical,” says Chris Becker, Blue Springs dad. “When the baby did come, our conversations enabled me to be more proactive then reactive. I was able to anticipate what she wanted and also communicate her needs more easily to the nursing staff and doctors. The communication only becomes even more important once the baby arrives. Midnight feedings and little sleep can be very difficult on new moms, and it’s important for dads to understand when to step up and offer to help when things get a little overwhelming.”
Participate Early and Often. You may not share your partner’s excitement over picking out nursery colors, but having you participate in baby-related events helps increase your level of understanding, as well as your partner’s level of support. Going to OBGYN appointments, helping assemble cribs and install car seats all allow you to get involved in the process of preparing for Baby and shows your partner that you are excited too.
Ride the Wave. Every woman’s pregnancy is different. Even if you are expecting for the third time with your partner, each pregnancy has its unique surprises. Mom-to-be may have different cravings or may carry the baby differently. And just because your best friend’s wife didn’t have mood swings doesn’t mean your significant other will be so lucky. Even after Baby arrives, each woman has a different experience with postpartum hormones. The best advice for dads in this situation is to just go with it. The hormone levels will calm down; it is just a matter of time.
“Approach it much like any other topic about which you feel uninformed and educate yourself,” says Eli Groesbeck, Leawood dad. “From tapping your network of those who have been through it before to online resources or formal classes, there is no shortage of opportunities to prepare yourself and establish confidence as the pregnancy progresses.”
While the dads are working to get more involved in the process, there are also things moms can do to be encouraging. First, saying thank you goes a long way. Dad may not be going through all that a mom-to-be is going through, but when he involves himself in the process, showing appreciation for his effort encourages him to continue being a part of things. Also, Dad might not change a diaper just the way you do and he might not pick out the right matching hair bow to go with each outfit. However, he is getting involved and, as he spends more time with the little one, he will figure out his own style. It might be a little different than Mom’s, but give him room to figure it out, and he and Baby will love the time together.