A Pregnancy Survival Guide for Men

IMAGE Your wife's belly is burgeoning, baby furniture has maxed out your credit cards, and you have not had sex in weeks. Somehow, pregnancy is not exactly what you or your wife had envisioned. Your once loving, carefree wife has become cranky and constantly nauseous. Welcome to the world of expectant fatherhood.Any type of adjustment is stressful, and preparing for a baby is an enormous change in one's lifestyle, mindset, and physical environment. If you find yourself wondering how you or your spouse will make it through the next nine months, you are not alone.

The First Trimester: Hormones, Exhaustion, and Morning Sickness

Your wife may feel fine during the first few months of pregnancy, or she may be exhausted and need two naps a day. Her hormones are hard at work, shaping the new life she carries within her. Sad movies, baby clothes, or even a minor disagreement may propel her into a crying spell. Remember that hormonal shifts are temporary and eventually your wife's moods and emotions will return to normal.Morning sickness, or queasiness, affects only some women and most find that this annoying symptom disappears in 2-3 months. Unfortunately, morning sickness is a poor name for this symptom of pregnancy since many women are sick all day and night. Food odors or other smells may trigger nausea, as may eating certain foods. Some men find that the sight or sound of their spouse getting sick is enough to send them running to the bathroom as well.

Here's What You Can Do

  • Help her find safe foods. Ask her healthcare provider for recommendations. Some women find that crackers, ginger ale, or lemonade help. Some women may find that an empty stomach causes extreme nausea.
  • Give your wife support. Believe it or not, there are books about morning sickness and how to conquer the symptoms. Ask a nutritionist or healthcare provider to help guide you through this time.
  • Stay active. Stick to your weekly physical fitness routine and activities. Find a friend who enjoys the same sports or hobbies and get out of the house.
  • Talk to a trusted friend, particularly one who is also a new dad. Or maybe even your own dad. You will be surprised that your apprehension and fear are extremely common.

The Second Trimester: Sex? What's That?

Your partner's body will begin to change dramatically during this period. She may gain weight quickly and the baby will suddenly make its presence known. During this trimester, you will hear your baby's heart rate and get a glimpse of your child via ultrasound.Some expectant fathers note that their partner's sexual appetite changes during the second trimester. Each woman responds differently to the changes taking place inside her. Some women are easily aroused and want sex more frequently; others may simply be too tired or worried that sex will harm the baby. Every couple experiences this trimester differently—there are no right or wrong approaches to your sex life.Try to talk openly about the changes that are taking place. A woman may fear that her body is no longer sexy, which may dampen her sex drive. Be honest with your spouse about the changes that are occurring and communicate your needs to her as well. Learn to compromise now. It will be great practice for the upcoming challenge of parenting.

Here's What You Can Do

  • Help with chores or housework to reduce stress in her environment.
  • Encourage your spouse. Give her positive feedback, even when she looks horrible and is too sick to change out of her pajamas. Tell her how excited you are about being a dad and that you know she will be a terrific mom.
  • Join a support group for fathers. There are many types of support groups for new fathers. You do not have to talk—just hearing other dads share similar problems is a great relief.
  • Write down your expectations of being a father, of what type of parent you want to be, and discuss your thoughts with your wife. It helps to talk about parenting styles and discipline techniques before situations arise.

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