Congratulations, dad! You’ve got a baby on the way! But, your partner isn’t the only one who’s expecting—there are two of you having this baby, and you’re in it together. And you’re probably feeling, well, all the feels: thrilled, proud, and possibly a little freaked out, too. It’s okay, dad. Becoming a parent is one of life’s greatest acts of hope and love, and you and your partner are on this ride together. No doubt, she is feeling the same mix of emotions, so be sure to share your joy with her. After all, you made this magic happen together. So, what can you expect when your partner is pregnant? Read on and get ready for the nine months ahead.
You’ll Need to Ride the Hormonal Wave
Not yours, of course, but there are some direct effects that you’ll be feeling, as well. Pregnancy brings on a tidal wave of new hormones, some of which can do unexpected things to a woman’s body and mind. The sickness. The moodiness. The hunger cravings. The odor sensitivities. The anxiety. The spontaneous bawling while watching America’s Funniest Home Videos.
Your partner may experience all of them, she may experience some of them, and there’s even a chance she could experience none of them. Whatever the case may be, these hormonal shifts can sometimes be tricky to navigate. The best approach is to make sure she knows that she has your support and that you are always there to lend an ear.
Communication and Expecting
Listen without being judgmental or telling her to relax. Get into the habit of talking things out and really listening to each other. These skills will serve you well when the baby arrives, and the killer combination of sleep deprivation and zero time to yourselves can exacerbate misunderstandings.
It’s not all doom and gloom, dad. There can be an upside to this time, as well. Some pregnancy hormones can increase your partner’s libido. I suggest you make the most of it while you can. Once the baby is born, your bedroom activities will likely be limited to burpings and diaper changes.
You’ll Be Getting Used to Sleep Deprivation
Your partner is getting bigger by the day, and as time goes on, it’s going to become more and more difficult for her to find a comfortable sleeping position. Be prepared for nights filled with lots of tossing and turning. If she was a die-hard stomach sleeper, she will have an even more difficult time than most.
Remember those hormones we were talking about before? Well, one of them (hCG) is going to have her running to the bathroom throughout the night. As the pregnancy progresses and baby grows, there will also be increasing pressure from the uterus pressing down on mama’s bladder. So, couple the constant in and out of bed for trips to the bathroom with all the foot-stomping and door slamming that goes with it, and you can see how your sleep might also be disrupted.
Don’t fret about the loss of sleep, dad. Instead, try to view it as a form of pre-conditioning for future nights with your precious little one in the house. Because, if my experience with babies is any indication, it’s going to get worse before it gets better.
You’ll Need to Offer Her Lots of Support
Support comes in many forms, and when you are expecting a baby, your partner will need as much emotional and physical support as she can get. Although it is equally important for dads and moms to be emotionally ready when having a baby, pregnancy can be both a mental and physical challenge for your partner.
Her body is creating a human life, and that’s a huge deal. Help her out by making life easier for her whenever you possibly can. Do double-duty on chores around the house or give her foot rubs when her tired feet are aching. Simply put, one of your jobs as the dad is to ease her daily burdens. Engage with her during every stage of the pregnancy. Accompany her to doctor’s visits; help shop for baby items; paint the nursery; set up the crib; talk about names, etc. The more engaged you are in the process, the more a part of things you will feel, and the less anxiety your partner will feel.
The Science Behind Support
Dads who play an active supporting role during pregnancy can lower moms’ stress levels. And less stress means a healthier environment for the baby growing in her belly. What’s more, research shows that dads who are involved during pregnancy are more likely to remain involved in their child’s well-being as they grow up. Kids with dads who are very involved in their upbringing tend to do better emotionally, socially, and academically than kids with less involved fathers.
Research also shows that kids with involved dads have many other advantages, such as increased mental dexterity, increased empathy, less stereotyped sex-role beliefs, and greater self-control.
So, what exactly is the reward for all of this hard work? Quite simply, the reward is a love like you’ve never felt before that will last a lifetime. Enjoy every moment, dad.