A first-time pregnancy is a pretty exciting time for the father-to-be. Choosing baby clothes, discussing possible names and decorating the nursery are all fun. It can also be a stressful time if you’re worrying about what’s to come or feeling a little left out of the action.However, it needn’t be. Try these nine tips to help you survive nine months of naps, nerves and niggles.
Knowledge is power. Yes, there is a lot you’re going to have to learn, so start early – read books, sign up to parenting sites (like this one!) and don’t assume your partner will magically know everything.
The first three months of pregnancy are the hardest! If your partner suffers from morning sickness and feelings of anxiety, reassure her that those feelings will pass. A major trigger for morning sickness can be smelly foods so steer clear of eating a curry in front of her. Score Brownie points by serving her some dry toast in bed as it can help boost blood sugar and lessen the nausea.
Some men are sceptical about going to antenatal classes and imagine couples sitting cross-legged in a circle meditating. It’s not like that – and the best thing for a dad is meeting other men who are going through the same experience. Many couples will make friends for life at such classes.
As your partner’s body changes and the bump grows ever more pronounced, there could be times when she feels a little down about her appearance. So pampering her with massages, scented baths and little gifts, and telling her how great she looks, is more important than ever. Make a diary note on your phone to remind you to pay her compliments if you have to!
The later stages of pregnancy can be tiring, so that is a time when you may need to curtail your social life a little to show support. Even if you get home from work exhausted, try to cook a meal for two – and don’t forget to clear up afterwards!
You’ll probably need to book some annual leave (or paternity leave) before the birth, but don’t automatically assume it’s best to take time off immediately following the birth. Your partner might be in hospital for a few days, and if you have grandparents able to stay for a while, it might make more sense to delay your leave by a week or two. But make sure you discuss it with your partner before deciding.
No amount of reading can prepare you for what a real-life baby is like. So if you have friends who have just become parents, spend some time with them – you could even change a nappy if you’re feeling brave!
When your mother-in-law and partner’s friends all get involved, it’s easy for the man to feel like a spare part. If that happens, talk about how you’re feeling so you can make all the plans together.
In the final days leading up to the due date, cut back on drinking and social engagements. You really don’t want to be tipsy when you’re expected to drive to the hospital.
‘When my first son was born, the labour lasted over three days, so I was glad I had bought along books and magazines for both of us as well a few treats. Babies are often in no hurry to enter the world, and hospitals can be boring if not much is happening.’
Fresh tip: Car seats can be complicated to fit. To avoid your partner standing behind you clutching the newborn while you struggle with the instructions, practise installing and removing it a few times in advance. And the same goes for the new stroller.
Find out how you can support your partner if he’s a first time dad. And dads, get more advice about how to prepare for the arrival of your baby.