The woman is the first person to establish a connection with a new baby since its growing inside of her. But what is the fathers role during the pregnancy? How can the man help the mom-to-be? How can he prepare for the baby? How does the relationship change now that there’s a baby?
Expectant fathers have just as many questions and worries as mothers do. Here are some things fathers-to-be should consider when preparing for a new arrival.
Pregnancy and babies aren’t cheap – save as much as possible.
It’s always a challenge to know how and when to financially plan for a new baby, and although preparation isn’t attached to a fixed dollar amount, there are concrete things an expectant father can do to ease the financial transition. According to well known financial analyst Jean Chatsky, the nine month pregnancy period is an ideal time to save money before the baby comes, especially if your wife or girlfriend will be a stay at home mom for a period. Chatsky suggests that couples practice living only on one income of the parent who will continue to work, while saving the other parents earnings. This will not only provide a good test run to see if only one income will suffice, but will also bulk up your savings account just in case being a one income family is too difficult.
Get health insurance coverage.
Even if you have health insurance you can’t assume you or your partners policy will cover all aspects of the pregnancy and delivery. A Women’s National Law Center study in 2009 found that only 13 percent of private insurance policies actually provided maternity coverage. Some insurance providers consider pregnancy a ‘preexisting condition‘ and is not covered, though a delivery will likely be covered.
Jeanne Robinson, a financial planner with the Marshall Financial Group in Pennsylvania, told CNN Money, “The worst thing is having a shock financially come along after the pregnancy. It is important to understand what you have and what is available to you.” Starting new policies for adequate coverage is essential, or enhancing your current policy to cover all of the expenses are key too.
Many companies offer a period once a year where changes can be made to insurance policies. This is typically called an “Open Enrollment” period, and since it’s only conducted on an annual basis, it is imperative that you take advantage of the Open Enrollment period, since you might have to wait another year to make any changes to your policy or include your new baby.
Help your lady out.
During a woman’s pregnancy, she will immediately develop new needs, and most will want their men to be involved, responsive, and helpful during this important time period. Australian relationship expert Anne Hollonds, told MSN, “There is a vast gap that emerges; the woman becomes very educated [about her pregnancy], and the guy feels left out, so one of the most important ways to support your partner is to stay involved and to find ways of being connected with the pregnancy.”
Communication is also key during this period, since both you and your partner will need additional emotional support. Both of you should talk about what your expectations and needs are during the nine month period, and also reach a common understanding of what you want for your baby once its here.
Morning sickness should actually be called all-day-sickness, as pregnant women experience nausea and vomiting throughout the day.
There are specific things that you can keep around the house during the early part of your partners pregnancy, to assist her with feelings of sickness. Vitamin B6 supplements can assist in relieving morning sickness. Ginger ale will also help quail feelings of nausea as the ginger root has always been known to assist stomach pain, but look for lesser known brands of ginger ale, as they’re more likely to contain real ginger. The carbonation of the ginger ale helps ease nausea too.
A steady supply of crackers should also be kept in the house, as they can also dull sick feelings in her stomach, and will provide a small bit of nourishment for when she looses her appetite.
Your sex life will likely change… for the better.
Health experts agree that it’s completely safe for a women to have sex during her pregnancy, right up to the point of her water breaking. It differs for some couples, but many enjoy sex even more during pregnancy. However, this isn’t always the case and pregnancy can instead create challenges for you and your partner, and your desire for sex. “When couples become pregnant, both the female and her partner experience numerous physiological and psychological changes,” Cheryl Burke, a licensed mental health therapist in Winter Park, Florida, who deals with relationships and parenting, told the Fatherhood Institute. “Some of the changes that negatively affect intimacy include weight gain, shifts in mood, discomfort, pain, low self-esteem, altered sleep patters, fatigue and hormonal changes, she said.”
Don’t be too worried though, as experts also say that pregnancy can sometimes increase a woman’s sex drive, and have orgasms more frequently. Many husbands also find their pregnant wives sexier, and more voluptuous.
In short, it’s hard to pinpoint specifically how sex will change during your partners pregnancy, but men should always be sensitive to their partners feelings and needs, and hopefully she’ll be sensitive to yours too.
Your Role During the Delivery
Giving birth isn’t pretty. While many men cherish the moment of seeing their baby born, others might want to sit in a waiting room until the babies arrival. In order to be both emotionally supportive as well as just a consoling physical presence, it’s in the couples best interest, that the man be in the delivery room during birth.
First, men should prepare and educate themselves by attending Lamaze classes. By doing so, they will be confident and know exactly what to expect, while learning different techniques to comfort their partner as she delivers. The Fatherhood Institute, in the United Kingdom, published a 2000 study that wrote “support during delivery provided by the father creates a more positive childbirth experience for the mother, with a shorter duration of delivery and less pain experienced,” they wrote in the publication. You also want to make sure you familiarize yourself with the hospital your partner will be delivering in. Take a tour of the hospital, and learn all of the hospitals rules concerning child delivery.
The nine months of pregnancy is something new fathers can enjoy and take full part in, and your level of involvement will be in direct proportion to your efforts. Read all of the literature you can, make time for Lamaze classes, and most importantly, cherish the moment with joyful expectancy and not a bunch of stress.
Daryl Nelson is a contributing writer for TheCheckup. He has written for Readers Digest, Polymagazine, The Urban Post, Impose Magazine, Crumbs for Men Magazine and a number of other publications. Nelson attended Virginia State University and Medgar Evers College. He is a native New York currently residing in the Washington, D.C.-area.