A generation or two ago you were more likely to see a fully-grown llama attending a birth than the father of the child. Now something like 90% of deliveries have the dad-to-be in attendance. With this shift has also come a gradual increase in the involvement of the father in the pregnancy itself.
Preparing for such a momentous period isn’t easy. Mark Woods the author of the bestselling Pregnancy for Men has put together a list of ways dads can be super helpful during those long nine months – how to be hands-on without being annoying.
Take her away from it all
After the hideous morning sickness and other symptoms, attending scans and generally being prodded and poked booking a night away will go down a treat. Or if money is tight, a candlelit night in with you waiting on her hand and foot before making time to talk about any worries she might have, will be long remembered.
Light up her life
There’s going to be a lot of late night weeing going on in your house from now on. Put a small light in the path of your partner’s route to the loo so she can see where she is going. Sweeping the route before you go to bed for any dangerous items she might trip over is a good idea too.
Antenatal classes might seem a long way off in the first few months but the best ones get booked up way ahead of time. The sessions run by the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) get snapped up especially quickly and have – rightly or wrongly – more of a reputation for forging long-lasting friendships among parents than some of the NHS-run ones.
Get online, get on the phone, find out the details and watch the mother-to-be of your child melt in admiration as you tell her you’ve been doing a bit of research into classes.
Pregnancy seat belt
Be super helpful and install a pregnancy seat belt extension. It essentially means that in the event of an accident, the belt doesn’t put pressure on the bump.
Change the bed
Changing bed linen is a job with a very high pain-in-the-arse rating – every man knows that. Every man also knows just how much better you sleep on lovely, cool, new sheets. Chances are your partner is more exhausted right now than she has ever been in her life. You know what to do.
The vast majority of us are dehydrated, according to research. While this is bad news for us all, as a pregnant woman it’s to be addressed straight away as water helps to carry nutrients to the baby and also helps to prevent infections, constipation and the dreaded piles.
To help your partner drink the three pints of fluid she needs (coffee, tea and pop don’t count I’m afraid, as they make you wee more out than they put in), make up jugs of water with wedges of lemon or lime in to help her overcome water boredom.
Give her a wedgie
Stick ‘pregnancy wedge pillow’ into Google and buy one. These simple little things give your partner support for her growing bump, and while – until recently – this was just seen as a nice thing to have, there is recent evidence that there could be a link between pregnant women sleeping on their back and stillbirth.
A pregnancy massage, a pedicure, a manicure, a face mask – booking a little treatment treat for her at this stage, when the chances of her reaching her toes to paint them is receding by the second, will go down a storm.
Whether your partner is ecstatic to be finishing work or nervous about putting her hard-fought-for career behind her, psychologically it’s a big moment and one that does signal the end of one era and the beginning of another.
Make a fuss of her and although you’ll be hoarding any spare holiday you have for when the baby is born, taking a day off to spend at home with her after she’s jacked in the job is a nice gesture that will almost certainly be appreciated.
When your baby arrives home you’ll be all over the place for a few weeks. While you can’t really prepare for the sleep deprivation, you can make moves to ensure you and your partner aren’t reduced to consoling yourselves that the corn on the cob in the KFC bucket you’ve just bought at least constitutes one of your five a day.
Fill the freezer with frozen shepherd’s pies, lasagnes, (mild) chillies – whatever nutritious comfort foods you fancy in fact, and you’ll be glad to call on this scrumptious stockpile when times get tough.
Become Head of Communications
Get into the habit early of politely telling friends and family that you’ll let them know as soon as something happens, rather than them needing to ask.
It’s a long enough month without having to field daily requests asking for ‘any news’. Although reading this you may think me a miserable grump get in the habit early as I promise eventually it will annoy you to the very core of your being.
Article written by Mark Woods, the author of Pregnancy for Men (White Ladder £10.99)
Mark Woods started his writing career as a news journalist for the UK’s national news agency the Press Association. After covering everything from the war in Kosovo to a pair of brave pigs escaping from an abattoir, a move into television followed where he attempted to make ONdigital and then ITV Digital a huge success. The enormous corporate disaster that followed allowed Mark to sensibly reconcentrate on writing and he joined Comic Relief. The birth of his first son inspired Mark to write the bestselling Pregnancy for Men which has since gone on to become an international hit. Mark lives with his wife Sarah and their three Children in South West London.