For an expectant dad, pregnancy can be both wonderful and terrifying. As much as he’s excited on the prospect of being a father, he’s also worried on how he’ll be taking care of both his heavily pregnant wife and unborn child. In fact, many dads-to-be might find themselves a little overwhelmed on what to do during the different stages of pregnancy, and how they can face the challenges.
Does this sound familiar? Not to worry. Here’s a guide on the different stages of pregnancy that you can learn from and better prepare yourself for a support role as an expectant dad.
First trimester (Weeks 1 - 12)
The first trimester can be the most challenging for a pregnant woman, as the swirling hormonal changes that occur within her body can bring about a roller-coaster ride of emotional and physical reactions. From morning sickness, strange food cravings and constant trips to the bathroom, expect your wife to always be in an unpredictable mood.
As an expectant dad, however, there’s no need to overreact to these sudden changes. It’s just a side effect of your wife’s body making room for the baby. However, you should try to make her situation as comfortable as possible. While you’re gagging at the sight of your wife tucking into a bowl of pickles with ketchup, or grumbling in the middle of the night while attending to her being sick in the bathroom, keep reminding yourself that it’s all worth it when you’re cradling your newborn in your hands.
It’s also good to start gathering vital information at this stage of pregnancy, to prepare you and your significant other on things to come. Start browsing on which doctor you’re comfortable with to oversee the delivery, as well as look into health insurance to cover the prenatal care. This would also be a great time to tone down on unhealthy habits, such as smoking or drinking, for the sake of your baby.
Second trimester (Weeks 13 - 28)
At this stage of pregnancy, your significant other will have things a little easier, as the constant morning sickness will begin to wane at this point. While she’ll be more energetic during this trimester, the noticeable increase in the size of her belly will wear your wife out easily and leave her short of breath at times.
As an expectant dad, helping out in household chores at this stage will not only earn the loving appreciation of your tired wife, but also safeguard your unborn baby’s health. Recent studies has shown that increased stress levels within a pregnant woman has been linked to a higher risk of mental and physical illnesses within the child’s later life, due to a certain hormone that’s released during periods of anxiety which can be absorbed by the fetus.
Ultrasound scans will be done by your doctor to see on how your baby is progressing in terms of growth and development. Based on the results, you might want to enroll for a birthing course, which are usually available in most maternity hospitals. These classes are not only a good source of information for taking care of newborns, but it’ll also save you the trouble of making big decisions at the last minute!
Third trimester (Weeks 29 - 40)
A bulging belly heralds the third trimester, where your wife will start to infrequently experience Braxton Hicks contractions. An expectant dad shouldn’t be too concerned, as these involuntary muscle rhythms are simply a precursor of things to come before the big delivery day.
While most contractions that your significant other will experience are painless, it’ll still leave them in discomfort during the process. You can alleviate your wife’s troubles with either walking or letting them rest, depending on which brings them relief. At times, providing her with a glass of water can be enough, as these tightenings are sometimes brought upon by dehydration.
However, it’s best to monitor your wife’s condition during this stage of pregnancy, as it’s often easy to confuse Braxton Hicks contractions with the early signs of preterm labor. Warning signs such as vaginal bleeding or an increase of frequency and pain should be consulted with your doctor immediately. These symptoms take even more precedence if your wife hasn’t reached her 37th week.
Many expectant dads dread this important day, and understandably too, as it’s time to bring their unborn baby into the world. Labor consists of many stages and can last from several minutes, to a few hours, depending on whether if it’s your wife’s first time, or if she opted for epidural anaesthesia.
At this stage of pregnancy, your significant other will be facing plenty of pressure from all sides. From listening to the midwife’s instructions, managing the constant pain and concentrating on delivering the baby, your wife will definitely have her hands full. While you can’t do much to reduce her distress, you can still be by her side to provide much needed encouragement and support, provided that she’s not too overwhelmed in the birthing process to notice you.
Another thing that you can do as an expectant dad is to pack a bag of necessities, ranging from snacks and energy bars to keep you going through the busy day, books and magazines for entertainment, as well as a change of clothes in case the hospital requires your wife and your newborn child to stay longer than required.
With this general expectant dad's guide to pregnancy, you’ll be more confident in tackling the challenges that you’ll encounter during the trimesters. No matter how rough things can get on the road as an expectant dad, keep pushing on, as many others who’ve been there will tell you that finally being a father can be one of the most rewarding things that life has to offer!
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