Your wife's belly is burgeoning, baby furniture has maxed out your credit cards, and you have not had sex in weeks. Somehow, pregnancy is not exactly what you or your wife had envisioned. Your once loving, carefree wife has become cranky and constantly nauseous. Welcome to the world of expectant fatherhood.
Any type of adjustment is stressful, and preparing for a baby is an enormous change in one's lifestyle, mindset, and physical environment. If you find yourself wondering how you or your spouse will make it through the next nine months, you are not alone.
Your wife may feel fine during the first few months of pregnancy, or she may be exhausted and need two naps a day. Her hormones are hard at work, shaping the new life she carries within her. Sad movies, baby clothes, or even a minor disagreement may propel her into a crying spell. Remember that hormonal shifts are temporary and eventually your wife's moods and emotions will return to normal.
Morning sickness, or queasiness, affects only some women and most find that this annoying symptom disappears in 2-3 months. Unfortunately, morning sickness is a poor name for this symptom of pregnancy since many women are sick all day and night. Food odors or other smells may trigger nausea, as may eating certain foods. Some men find that the sight or sound of their spouse getting sick is enough to send them running to the bathroom as well.
Your partner's body will begin to change dramatically during this period. She may gain weight quickly and the baby will suddenly make its presence known. During this trimester, you will hear your baby's heart rate and get a glimpse of your child via ultrasound.
Some expectant fathers note that their partner's sexual appetite changes during the second trimester. Each woman responds differently to the changes taking place inside her. Some women are easily aroused and want sex more frequently; others may simply be too tired or worried that sex will harm the baby. Every couple experiences this trimester differently—there are no right or wrong approaches to your sex life.
Try to talk openly about the changes that are taking place. A woman may fear that her body is no longer sexy, which may dampen her sex drive. Be honest with your spouse about the changes that are occurring and communicate your needs to her as well. Learn to compromise now. It will be great practice for the upcoming challenge of parenting.
The final weeks of your wife's pregnancy may seem eternal, and you may begin to wonder if the baby will ever arrive. At this point, your spouse's complaints may range from an aching back or major heartburn to restless, sleepless nights. The final weeks of pregnancy are an emotional time. Last minute nursery preparations, increasing discomfort, and carrying the weight of a full-grown baby begin to take their toll.
A childbirth class can help at this point. Talk to your wife's healthcare provider about your options. There are many types of classes available, depending upon the class content and the instructor(s). A class offers an excellent opportunity to interact with other new parents. Ask as many questions as possible. The instructor may be a registered nurse or certified labor assistant and will be equipped to answer all types of questions. Do not be embarrassed by your questions. The teacher has usually assisted at multiple births and has witnessed a variety of situations. You may have the option to view a recording of a live birth. Although these videos are educational, they do tend to be explicit in nature.
Common pre-delivery concerns include worry about the baby's health as well as the increased financial responsibilities that accompany parenting. These are normal concerns that every mother and father think about throughout the pregnancy. Talk with your partner about your concerns and financial resources.
Your wife may begin to express a great deal of fear about giving birth, including fear of the pain. Reassuring her may not seem to help. Show her that you care by offering your support and reassurance. Ask her what you can do to help before and throughout the birthing process.
International Childbirth Education Association
Women's Health Matters
A father's guide to pregnancy. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq032.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20130912T1012263686. Updated April 2013. Accessed September 12, 2013.
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Last reviewed September 2013 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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