What was your gut reaction the moment your wife found out she was pregnant? A huge smile. Anxious butterflies. Or maybe a mix of both. Whether your new baby is your first child or your fifth, preparing for your newest family member takes a physical, mental, and emotional toll.
There are thousands of resources for expectant mothers, but resources for expectant fathers are few and far between. Dads need advice, too. You have to navigate your own issues while also trying to support and encourage your pregnant wife or life partner. We don’t want you to go it alone.
Here are seven things that every expectant father should know
Your hormones are changing, too
The media makes it exceedingly clear that expectant mothers have changing hormones that cause mood swings, strange cravings, and physical changes. People don’t talk about the fact that expectant fathers experience changes in their hormones as well. A University of Michigan study observed a decrease in the testosterone levels of expectant fathers. This hormone change works in your favor, helping you better care for your wife and newborn.
Your support matters
It’s true that your body is not the one growing and sustaining a new life, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have a role in the pregnancy process. Use these nine months to practice supporting your pregnant wife. Having a baby, or adding another child to your family, will change your partnership. Lay the groundwork for a strong support system now. Be ready with crackers and seltzer when morning sickness turns into all-day sickness. Change your schedule to accommodate your wife’s needs. Offer a shoulder to cry on and a huge hug when pregnancy just feels too overwhelming. Stock the fridge with your wife’s latest cravings. Preparing for a successful partnership starts today.
It’s okay to feel nervous
Being a supportive partner does not mean that you have to have it all together. It’s normal for expectant fathers to feel anxiety throughout the pregnancy. From concerns about being able to afford a child to worries about the health of your pregnant wife, there are many topics that can be a cause for concern. That’s okay. Acknowledge those anxieties and address them as needed. Whatever you do, don’t ignore them. Pent up anxiety is not productive for you, your wife, or your new baby.
Be in the know
Your pregnant wife’s body is changing on a daily basis. You’ll be a better partner if you have a general idea of what’s going on. Download an app or subscribe to an email newsletter that sends regular updates. They will provide you with the insights that you need to be empathetic towards your partner. These resources are a great starting point:
- Pregnancy+ – Serves as your guide through pregnancy with daily updates and advice
- Glow Nurture – This one allows you to receive updates based on the data your wife inputs, making it even easier to anticipate her needs
- Baby Center – Get weekly pregnancy updates delivered to your inbox each week
Take care of yourself
The health of your wife feels like it take priority now, but don’t forget to take care of yourself. It seems easier in the moment to skip the gym or to order greasy takeout three nights a week. In the long run, healthier choices pay off. Regular exercise and healthy eating habits will help you combat anxiety, boost your mood, and give you the energy to love your growing family well. Build positive lifestyle practices now so that you can be around for the births of your grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Find your community
There are some questions that only people who have been there can answer. Find the people whose answers you trust. This can be internet experts, friends, relatives, online communities or a mix of all four. For questions such as Did your wife do this when she was pregnant? or Which crib is the easiest to put together?, knowing where to go is half the battle. These resources can guide you as you continue in your parenting journey. Here are a few online resources that expectant fathers will appreciate:
- What to Expect – You’ll find resources for expectant mothers and expectant fathers alike
- Mr. Dad – Mr. Dad feels like getting advice from your older, wiser friend
- Parenting.com – Parenting has a section just for fathers that will offer advice for years to come
Take time to think about what fatherhood means to you. If you already have children, reflect on any changes you would like to make to improve the experience of your newest addition. Start the process on your own, and then have open and honest conversations with your wife. These nine months give you time to align your thoughts as a team so there are fewer ideological surprises when the new baby arrives.
Hopefully you feel more equipped for your journey as an expectant father. Is there a piece of advice that has helped you? Share it in the comments below.