Monday, May 27, 2024

What fathers need to know when mom is expecting

Dr. Annette Mayers

It is a very surreal experience to learn that you are expecting a baby. If it is a first child, there is a hunger for information — especially conversations with others who have worn the shoes you’re about to fill — that can prepare you for the unexpected.

Throughout my career as an OB-GYN, I have encountered a countless number of expectant mothers — and invariably, some will utter a familiar phrase to describe the relationship between two parents-to-be: “My husband just doesn’t understand what I am going through.” That’s why I wanted to address new fathers who are expecting their first child, and offer some information to raise their awareness of what they are about to go through.

First, we have to set the scene from the minute you are given the news of your impending parenthood. Ideally, it is a joyous occasion — one that has been planned and prepared for success. Even in that optimal situation, there will be anxious moments as you deal with unfamiliar emotions and contemplate the new responsibilities that will come with welcoming a new addition to your family.
Physically, a new mother may have already suspected she is pregnant even before seeing her doctor. She might have shown signs of exhaustion during the middle of the day, experienced nausea, frequent urination, mood swings and missing her menstrual cycle. Once it has been medically confirmed that your mate is carrying a child, make no mistake that there will be changes — both large and small.

New fathers need to understand that physical changes are not only restricted to the new mom. Some studies have demonstrated that fathers also experience mood changes, lack of sleep and weight gain. This is believed to be the result of hormones released from the expectant mother’s sweat glands that trigger hormonal changes in the expectant father.
It is also not unusual for new fathers to experience food cravings and to begin nesting or reconstructing the home in preparation for a new baby. Mothers watch out — fathers nest in different ways, and might consider buying a new car before the newborn arrives.
It sounds cliché, but it is true: Pregnancy is a very sensitive time for new moms. They may not always require physical comforting, but many women require more emotional attentiveness while carrying

a child. For example, it can be important to allow an expectant mom to fully explain an idea or thought without interruption; to affirm her physical attractiveness; and to perform household chores that she normally takes care of on her own. Most importantly, a father’s most crucial role is just being present throughout the pregnancy, to mind his mate’s emotional well-being to ensure the arrival of a healthy baby.

Intimacy might take on new forms, but patience and creativity will reassure your mate of your everlasting attraction to her. She might not want to have sexual relations as usual, but a wonderful body massage (lower back with unscented oil) will never be denied.

Fathers, you are not forgotten throughout the process of pregnancy or when the baby arrives. Your participation and communication is the first step in creating a happy home for your new arrival.

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