With changing times we see many pregnant women are accompanied by their husband for antenatal visit. Fathers to-be now take maximum interest in doctor visits, birth process and baby care. This is a welcome change and this is how it should be. Father is extremely important in a child's life. He is a hero, a guide, a mate, a protector and practically everything to them. So a father's role begins even before the baby is born, right from the day pregnancy test turns out positive. Pregnant woman experiences many emotional and physical changes which makes this journey challenging for both partners. Husbands need to understand the pregnancy process and actively participate in every stage. A supportive and caring husband in this phase is the best gift any wife can get.
First trimester (till 12 weeks)
Right from the day pregnancy test comes positive, the father to-be can be a great support for his wife. Share your excitement and joy about being pregnant and talk about happier days to come. You can try to accompany her for the first check up. Morning sickness, nausea, vomiting, not able to eat, tiredness, diziness are common symptoms felt in this phase. You can help her rest more, help with chores. Discuss among yourself and also with your doctor when you would want to announce pregnancy to everyone. We find many husbands feel worried that wife is not eating properly and not gaining weight. But this is normal in first 3 months. Let her eat what she is comfortable with, more liquids might help. Dont force feed. She will gain weight once vomiting of pregnancy improves. Secondly its important to focus on your lifestyle and habits. Both of you should have nutritious and balanced food. Avoid eating unhygienic foods. Start small walks, spend time together. It will be a little while for you to get couple time after the baby arrives. Your wife cannot take alcohol or smoke in pregnancy. Infact its bad for the baby if she inhales when you smoke. So its best to quit. She may have mood swings and emotional moments. Listen to her and acknowledge her feelings. Sometimes this is all that is needed than finding a solution. Having intercourse is safe in most pregnancies. Ask your doctor for any contraindications. Try to accompany her for 3rd and 5th month scans as doctor will show the whole baby and the bonding starts right away. She should take folic acid tablet.
Second trimester (13-28 weeks)
It is a enjoyable period. Mom can eat good and feels energetic. No need to eat for two as people say, as this may cause unnecessary weight gain which is very difficult to lose. Just focus on a balanced diet. Walks and exercise help in this phase. Take your tablets regularly.
Third trimester (29-40 weeks)
Attend antenatal and labour preparation classes with your wife. Also attend breast feeding classes. All this will be very helpful in birth process and baby care. Talk to your doctor about epidural block or painless labour.
Discuss your birth plan, worries and doubts. Ask the hospital staff of what items to get on admission for delivery. Keep a bag ready beforehand. Order few requisites early. Avoid travel plans to far places after 32-34 weeks. Keep hospital files and documents properly. Get your wife registered for delivery with a doctor you both trust. Talk to your doctor if husband will be allowed in labour room. Different hospitals have different rules. You may not be allowed in if a ceserean is done. Either way it is a extraordinary experience to be the first to hold your newborn. You can request seeing baby immediately if all well. Some pregnancies may have complications. Help her make important decisions in birth process. Do not hesitate in asking your doubts to your doctor in such stressful times. Do not involve too many people unnecessarily in such discussions. Do what is best for mother and baby. Remember you two need to work as a team.
This is a very challenging period in a new mother's life. Baby care, sleepless nights, bleeding on and off till 6 weeks, pain in stitches, difficulty with breast feeding, emotional disturbances from hormonal changes...all this makes her very vulnerable. She may have negative emotions coupled with joy of having a baby.
It is great to have parents or friends for help. In either situation help your wife with baby care. You will feel more confident as a father if you do this. Changing diapers, putting baby to sleep, help in cleaning can make your wife more comfortable. Read about postpartum blues and depression. Also it is important to know that your wife can become pregnant even before menses resume. It is good to discuss birth control options with your doctor. Couples who stand united in this journey of parenthood, stay strong. Happy parenting!!!! Disclaimer - these are the views of a qualified doctor and author. These are general suggestions and do not replace actual check up by a doctor. Any resemblance to anybody is coincidental. Author information - Dr Harita N Kothia, Obstetrician and gynecologist, Mumbai Visit www.familygynaec.com