..where little means a lot


The Expectant Father

The way you communicate with your wife is going to influence her sense of security. Distancing yourself physically and emotionally is going to make her feel as if she is on her own in this one i.e. pregnancy. Try to be sensitive and encourage her to discuss her fears and anxieties. Expect there to be changes to your sex life, expect her to have mood swings and expect this phase to impact your relationship. You can either grow closer or due to differences, grow apart. Because of hormonal changes the onus to balance things lies more on the man. Your partner has got more on her plate so how you handle these crucial nine months is something you will have to manage. If all goes well you will be closer than ever.

Remember the happier and more relaxed your wife is during pregnancy, your baby is going to gain by experiencing long-term emotional and physical benefits. So make it a priority to give time, support and love to your pregnant partner with simple, pleasant gestures.

Change your habits

  • If you smoke, cut down or better still give it up. If you can't, smoke away from your partner as passive smoke filtering through to your baby is equally damaging.
  • If you drink coffee don't do it in front of her since she is trying to stay off caffeine. Get one on your way to work instead.
  • If you drink, reduce it. It will demonstrate your support at a time when your partner shouldn't be drinking.
  • If you junk a lot on junk food, avoid and start eating healthily as this will promote good eating habits in her too.
  • If you can avoid travel in the last trimester of the pregnancy, make that possible as some babies decide to come early. You should be there for her.

Ways to share the Pregnancy

  • Exercise together Go for walks or swims or the gym. Apart from staying in good shape it is a good way to spend time together and stay on top of things.
  • Massage your partner Your partner is going to start to feel the aches and the discomforts as she grows bigger. Backaches and leg pain are common complaints. You can help ease the pain and show how much you care with this simple gesture. It also increases intimacy and bonding time with your partner.
  • Do the Groceries Instead of your partner lugging around with heavy bags, perhaps it is time you help out with shopping on home and baby essentials. Or you can suggest you do the shopping together; she gets to enjoy walking around the supermarket aisles while you help her with the load.
  • Let your partner sleep late She needs to rest more so encourage her to tuck in extra hours in the morning if she feels like it. You could surprise her with a breakfast in bed.
  • Make time to attend doctor visits Attend scans and monthly routine visits to the doctor with her whenever you can. She could use the support. For important tests or special appointments she will need your presence. If she is attending childbirth classes make it a point to go with her.
  • Go for dates Make time to share interests other than the baby. It is easy to get caught up with baby issues and preparations that other things start to slide. Keep some time aside each week for each other. Go for a movie or a dinner or rent a video at home. The idea is to have some together moments alone.
  • Take a vacation If you can afford the time and the expense, plan a trip away from home. Trips are especially suitable now since the due date is still some months away. If the trip is in the last trimester, ensure that she is comfortable and fit to travel; keep the vacation short like a weekend long.
  • Surprise her Buy a cute gift or a card expressing your feelings or simply making her feel special. Pamper her by indulging in her food cravings and demands which may seem silly to you but important to her.

What she truly expects from You

  • A sympathetic listener especially when she is feeling low and lousy
  • A foot or back massage to ease pregnancy aches and pains
  • A clean bathroom; in case she throws up, why not clean up instead of waiting for her to do it (especially when there is no other help around).
  • Be sensitive to her aversions and cravings. If she detests the smell of meat, don't gorge on it in front of her. If she craves for something you don't quite enjoy yourself like peanut butter and strawberry cream watch her eat with a smile.
  • Be enthusiastic to the changes taking place; respond by reading up on pregnancy issues or fetal development.
  • As she tries to kick bad habits and stay healthy, support her ways by sharing these lifestyle changes.

When you Squabble..

  • Reach an agreement Most couples have a set way of dealing with arguments that can turn nasty. For instance when things go out of line, some decide that it is best to cool off and discuss when things cool down. Others have a pact to never go to bed angry.
  • Take time out When things heat up, take a break. Move to another section of the house and later when things cool off, talk things over on how to solve it.
  • No name calling Don't belittle each other or call each other names during a fight. Don't drag family members into the picture - there are no winners in such situations.
  • Don't digress Bringing up the past is a mistake most couples make. Instead of focusing on the issue at hand and being specific, they start to generalize. Problems don't get solved this way. For instance if the disagreement is due to household chores and your partner picks on how you never offered help in the past, deal with it in a specific manner. And don't wait for the situation to arise in the future but volunteer to help without her 'prompting' you.

Your role at the Birth

  • You may play the role of primary birth partner. This would mean you would need to be ready and available when her waters break and her contractions begin. If both of you have jointly decided that you should be present in the labor room, you should be mentally prepared for what is in store. Still, the sight of blood, mucus, excreta, moaning and screaming involved may shock you. Things often do not go according to plan. For instance labor doesn't start on the due date. Or once labor begins, events may not go according to plan. Keep your cool and remain sensitive to your partner's needs.
  • There is plenty you can do to assist your partner during labor like holding and supporting her, massaging her lower back, neck, feet and reminding her to practice her relaxing and breathing techniques. Support her decisions on pain relief; comfort her when she is afraid or unsure.
  • It is not unusual feel anxious at your ability to cope with the demands on you or to worry about feeling faint or sickish in the labor room. Be assured that you will not feel squeamish but be more fascinated instead by the birth your baby. Focus on your partner's face if you find it difficult to handle or take a breather by going outside. Read as much as you can, discuss with other fathers, visit the hospital area and attend antenatal classes to prepare you for what is to come.
  • Despite this if you feel incapable of being there for the delivery, talk with your partner and have someone else she is comfortable with like her mother for instance or a doula to support your partner. Some men and women do not feel comfortable at the idea of having the partner witness vaginal delivery. Be assured this will not make a difference to the bond you will have with your baby later on.

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