Monday, September 26, 2005

How Dads Can Help in Pregnancy

Many books and articles have been written for mothers-to-be. There are whole sections of bookstores and libraries on pregnancy, birth, and being a mom. Recently, there have been a few books written on being a dad, but they are few and far between; and rare is the book or magazine article which focuses on being a dad during the pregnancy. Since the baby is still on the inside and the father can't really do anything tangible to help with the baby, most people think it is a non-issue. But nothing could be farther from the truth. Fathers are indispensable, as we all know, but their importance doesn't begin and end with conception, only to regain status once the precious little bundle arrives on the scene. Fathers play a very important role during the pregnancy, if not for the baby directly, then for the mental health of the pregnant mother. Following are some tips and ways that fathers can help and encourage their pregnant wives.

1. Patience. If there's one thing we all know about pregnant women, it's that the hormones do a number on their bodies AND minds, and sometimes it feels like nine long months of PMS. Fathers-to-be would do well to be extra sensitive and understanding during this difficult time of change and mood swings. Being pregnant, especially for the first time, can be a scary thing for young moms. Dads should be there to calm their fears and give them comfort.

2. Study. She may be the one reading all the books on pregnancy and birth, but dads should read the material as well, if not only to be informed, but to show her how important this is to him, and to be able to converse with her about it intelligently.

3. Compliment her. Many pregnant moms feel fat and ugly, even though most people agree that there is a certain "glow" and beauty to a pregnant woman. While most husbands think their wives are beautiful during this special time, she needs to hear it more than ever before. A husband should reassure his wife daily that she is beautiful and that he is still attracted to her.

4. Discuss names. While the husband may not care about the baby's name, or if he thinks the decision has been made, many pregnant women like to bat about several names over and over, getting used to the feel of the sound on her tongue, and imagining how it will feel to call a baby by that name. Husbands should indulge their wives and plan to talk about all sorts of baby names - even ones that most husbands think are awful.

5. Talk to seasoned dads. Fathers-to-be should learn from their predecessors. A husband could talk to his own father, his father-in-law, a good friend, or someone older that he trusts to give him good counsel. Don't be afraid to ask questions. If a new father goes out of his way to learn and make the pregnancy a special time, his wife will be eternally grateful.

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