Congratulations! You and your partner have begun an amazing journey that will change your life forever. The next nine months will bring many new things, all ending in a wonderful gift — your new baby! While it may seem like pregnancy is all about the mother — and certainly a lot of it is — there is much that expectant dads can do to offer help and support along the way. After all, you’re both in this together. So let’s take a look at how you can be a supportive partner during pregnancy.
At Southlake OB/GYN, we want to be there to help both of you during every step of pregnancy. Getting ready to be a dad is both exciting and stressful! But there are many ways that you can help out and make things easier on your partner. This blog post — the first in a series of three — will give you a better idea of what to expect, and how you can be ready to help.
During the first trimester, your partner will be experiencing many changes in her body. The first month will be subtle as the body begins to adjust. There may be some nausea or some tenderness in her breasts, and she will certainly be needing more rest. In fact, rest is going to be an important part of the entire pregnancy, and this is a great area where dads-to-be can help out. Your partner probably won’t be able to do as much as she used to, and this may be hard for both of you, at first. It’s important to work together during this time so that you can help make sure she isn’t overtaxing herself and is staying as healthy as possible. Get used to doing more around the house
Your partner is likely to experience nausea and morning sickness during this time, as you may also find that she craves some foods while no longer being interested in others. Your doctors will let you know what foods are good to have during pregnancy and which ones should be avoided; if there are any special dietary needs, that’s something else your doctors will determine. Keep the kitchen well-stocked with what she wants to eat as well as what she needs, and don’t be surprised if you have to make the occasional late-night run to the store for some cravings.
Emotionally, the end of the first trimester can be a little challenging. Certainly, you are both going to be excited and nervous as you get used to what is happening. But as the expectant mother’s hormone levels begin to change — particularly when it comes to the dramatic increase of progesterone and estrogen levels — there are likely to be some mood swings that neither of you have experienced before. This is also perfectly normal and it is likely to happen throughout the pregnancy. Learning patience is vital — this is not something she will be able to control. And that patience will be a reward when the baby comes, too. It’s an important parenting skill.
By the beginning of the second trimester, everyone is going to start to notice that you are expecting. Your partner’s “bump” will be more noticeable, and soon you will be able to feel your baby moving. Some of the tiredness of the first trimester will alleviate, and you may find that the expectant mom has more energy than before, particularly around the fifth month. That’s great for you both, but remember to try to help keep her from overdoing it. Her rest is still very important.
Your partner is likely to experience some new physical symptoms of pregnancy during this time. Skin problems are common — remember, those hormones are changing everything — and there may be some joint pain as well. Light-headedness is common during this time because the body is producing more blood for the baby. You will be going to regular visits to the OB/GYN, who will be monitoring all changes closely, but don’t be afraid to call or schedule an appointment if anything seems unusual or worrisome.
The third trimester comes up fast — faster than both of you may expect! This is the home stretch and there will be much to do. You’ve had ultrasounds by now and may know the baby’s sex (if you’ve decided to be told), so there is shopping and preparing the nursery, and preparing the house for the baby’s arrival. Many dads-to-be find this to be a very fulfilling time for them, so let yourself get into it as you work on the nursery and get everything prepared.
The third trimester is going to be hard on your partner’s body. Everything is preparing for the big day, and body changes are going to be pronounced. Many of them will also be uncomfortable. The baby is growing rapidly, and that puts pressure on the internal organs. Muscular problems are common as well. Your partner is going to be carrying a lot more extra weight thanks to your growing baby, so she will experience lower back pain, pain in the legs and feet (even some swelling in the legs and feet), and likely more difficulty walking, getting up and down, and moving around in general. You can help out with gentle massage when she is in pain or discomfort.
Other changes you can expect to see your partner experience during this time include an increase in how often she needs to use the bathroom, difficulty sleeping, breast changes including significant increase in size and some leaking from the nipples, possible heartburn or shortness of breath, and some problems with balance due to the extra weight in both belly and breasts. Again, your doctor will be advising you on all of this, but if anything seems extreme, don’t hesitate to call.
In our next blog post, we will take a look at what to do when the big day comes. If you or your partner has any questions about your pregnancy or what is happening during any part of it, give Southlake OB/GYN a call today.