Despite the great strides made in the area of gender equality, there’s one thing women can do that you’ll never be able to: grow a baby. You’re never going to know how it feels to be pregnant or give birth to your precious progeny. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have an active part in the gestation process. You and your wife are a team, and there’s many things you can do to be a supremely supportive dad-to-be.
RESPOND APPROPRIATELY TO THE NEWS SHE’S PREGNANT
If you weren’t planning on a bundle of joy entering your life, make sure you don’t respond in a way that shows you’re not excited about the news. Inappropriate responses would include: breaking down and crying tears of agony, making a face of disgust or asking why she wasn’t using her birth control. You want your wife to feel confident and secure that you’ll be there for her during these trying nine months and that you’re willing to step up and be a great dad.
READ SOME BOOKS ON PREGNANCY
Knowledge is power. The more you know about what she’s going through, the better equipped you are to empathize and know how to help. There are hundreds of pregnancy books to choose from. What to Expect When You’re Expecting is a classic and guides you through what your wife is experiencing during each step of her pregnancy.
ACCOMPANY HER TO DOCTOR’S APPOINTMENTS
This serves three purposes. First and most importantly, it shows your wife that you’re with her all the way in the pregnancy. Second, you’ll know exactly what’s going on with her pregnancy and will be better prepared to help her. Finally, seeing your baby’s picture, even when it looks like an indistinguishable lump, and hearing its heartbeat will help create a fetus/father bond. Even if you’re terribly busy at work or school, always make time for a doctor’s appointment.
HELP HER THROUGH MORNING SICKNESS
Morning sickness is quite possibly the worst part of pregnancy (well, besides that whole labor thing). It strikes about 75 percent of all pregnant women. Symptoms of morning sickness include headaches, excessive sleepiness and, of course, feelings of nausea and sometimes vomiting. Most women will start feeling the symptoms of morning sickness about a month after conception, and it will typically last until the twelfth to fourteenth week of pregnancy. Some women will experience morning sickness their entire pregnancy. Despite its name, morning sickness doesn’t happen only in the morning. Most women experience the symptoms of morning sickness all day long. When helping her through this rocky period, the key is to keep experimenting with different remedies. Introduce new treatments each day to see which work for her and which don’t. Be willing to make many trips, sometimes late at night, in search of something else to ease her troubles. Here are a few remedies that might do the trick:
- Vitamin B6 supplements – Studies have shown that vitamin B6 supplements can alleviate the symptoms of morning sickness.
- Seasickness bracelets – Seasickness bracelets are elastic bands with plastic bumps that apply pressure to points on the wrist. Supposedly this pressure can reduce the feelings of nausea.
- Ginger ale – The fizziness of ginger ale or any other clear soda can help with nausea. Ginger has been shown to reduce the symptoms of morning sickness. Most popular brands of ginger ale don’t have any real ginger in them; look for smaller, independent brands that still use the real ginger.
- Crackers – The problem with morning sickness is that your wife will not feel like eating much, but an empty stomach will only make the feelings of nausea worse. Crackers are easy on the stomach and can stave off the nausea that starts in the morning. Have her eat some before she even gets out of bed.
- Ginger or peppermint tea – As with ginger, peppermint has been shown to help reducer the feelings of nausea associated with morning sickness.
- Be flexible – Some foods will be totally unappetizing to your wife one day, and the next it will be the only thing that appeals to her. Be flexible and give her whatever her stomach will keep down. Be willing to run out and buy whatever she craves.
- Keep yourself clean. Pregnant women become hypersensitive to smells. Even scents she once enjoyed can now start her stomach churning. So brush your teeth and shower daily, or she may not be able to stand having you around.
REDUCE HER STRESS
Pregnancy is physically and emotionally demanding, so don’t burden your wife with any unneeded pressure. Take on more of the household chores like cleaning, cooking and grocery shopping so you wife can rest. However, when you take on these responsibilities, make sure to do them right. Ruining your wife’s favorite shirt in the wash will negate any stress reduction your good deed might have garnered.
Pregnancy totally wreaks havoc on your wife’s hormones. Some days she’ll feel fantastic; some days she’ll bite your head off as soon as you open your mouth and some days she’ll break down and cry for no reason at all. Be patient and recognize that it’s the hormones. Also, be understanding when it comes to your love life. Your wife’s sex drive will be all over the place during her pregnancy; often plummeting in the first trimester, bouncing back in the second and falling again in the third. Patience, friend, patience.
TELL HER SHE’S BEAUTIFUL AND THAT YOU LOVE HER.
Your wife will be undergoing some serious body transformations during pregnancy. Reassure her that you think she’s beautiful and that you love her immensely. Affirm your unwavering dedication to her each and every day. (Quotes from The Art of Manliness, pp. 145-148)