Pregnancy and childbirth can seem complicated and confusing for men. The good news is that you don’t have to know all the details. Healthcare providers can help you with that. When you go to the visits, ask questions and learn, just like your partner is doing.
Let’s start with the basics
Pregnancy includes three periods or “trimesters” that total 40 weeks. That’s a bit longer than the 9 months you’ve probably heard about. Your baby has the best chance of being healthy if your partner can make it to the 39-week mark but making it to week 40 is even better. That’s the most important thing to remember.
Even though your baby can survive if delivered as early as 34 weeks, the risk of problems and the likelihood of a long hospital stay, including greater cost, are almost certain. Important development of the brain, digestive system and other organs happen during weeks 36 to 40.
It’s a rough world out there. Give your baby the time he or she needs to develop fully so he or she will be ready for the challenges of life on the outside.
Share support and show you care
The role of the father during pregnancy is greater than many men believe. Whether things with your partner are good, bad or somewhere in between — during pregnancy — you become parents together.
If your relationship is strong, enjoy it, but know that it’s not unusual for the process to be stressful at times. If you and your partner aren’t close, you still have a common goal — doing what it takes to bring a healthy baby (your baby) into the world. Look for ways you can help set the stage for success.
Make decisions together
Pregnancy is full of important decisions. Things like where to give birth, childcare, what kind of baby gear to buy and more. Making these choices together takes the burden off each of you while also allowing you learn about each other in the process.
Breastfeeding gives your baby a big health advantage and is also good for the mother. But it’s not always easy. Mom will need your full support to keep up this important job.
What You Need to Know About Breastfeeding
Be patient and understanding
Sometimes your partner’s emotional and physical reactions to things may surprise you. But they’ll also surprise and frustrate her. Try to be patient, and remember, it will pass.
Respect her hardworking body
Your partner’s body is working overtime to make a baby and may be sore and tired in ways that are different than before she was pregnant. Ask how she would like to be touched and made more comfortable. A back rub or foot massage can show you care.
Get your team together
Even though you might want privacy or don’t want to ask for help, put your support team together to help you after the baby is born. Sooner or later, you’re going to need the help.
Talk to your partner about who should be on the list, how you want them to help and get them involved now. Having a birth plan and loved ones you trust to help ease into parenthood makes the transition much easier – and less stressful.