What you need to know: While it’s true that she’s having the baby and she’s the one whose belly is growing, there’s a lot for Dad to do during this exciting and sometimes confusing time.
What you can do: Be Involved. Go with your partner to her preconception and prenatal visits. Ask questions.
Watch, Listen Browse and Read: Watch videotapes, listen to audiotapes, check out the Internet, or read books about pregnancy, childbirth and being a parent. Listen to your baby’s heartbeat: You can hear your baby’s heartbeat at the end of the first trimester. Watch your baby develop when your partner has an ultrasound. You’ll be able to see the baby’s head, arms, hands, legs and feet and you may be able to find out the sex of the baby. This picture makes the baby seem very real to you.
During the third trimester doctor’s visit ask your healthcare provider how you can help during labor and delivery.
Go to a Childbirth Education Class together. Waterbury Hospital holds Childbirth education classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays as well as some Weekend Workshops. Please call 203-573-7219 for class schedules.
Help Plan for the baby: Talk to your partner about what you both want for the baby. Decide where the baby will sleep and make that part of your home colorful and welcoming for the baby. Plan to shop for baby items. Review your finances together. Join an Infant Care class to learn how to take care of your baby. Classes are offered on the 4th Tuesday of the month. Please call 203-573-7219 to enroll.
Be supportive: If you partner chooses to breast feed, support her decision. Breast milk is the best food for your baby. It has everything that your baby needs to grow and be healthy. Waterbury Hospital strongly advocates Breastfeeding your baby. We have several Lactation Counselors who are ready to assist you should you plan to breast feed. Our lactation counselors are available after discharge for questions and concerns. We want you to be successful in your attempt to breast feed by offering a monthly Breastfeeding Class on the 2nd Wednesday of each month. Please call 203-573-7219 for details. For more details on “What Dad Can Do” regarding breastfeeding: http://www.marchofdimes.com
Help your partner stay Healthy during Pregnancy: Help your partner maintain a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy. Help her eat lots of different foods. Good choices are whole grain breads, cereals, rice and pasta; skim or low-fat milk, cheese and yogurt; low fat meat and chicken and lots of fruits and vegetables. Encourage your partner to eat healthy foods as this is important for your baby’s development. Set the example by watching what you eat, as well!
Quit smoking: If you smoke, you are blowing second-hand smoke; this is not good for your baby or your partner. It can hurt the baby when it is inside the uterus and after birth. Also, pregnant women who smoke are more likely to have babies born too small and too soon. If you both smoke, even if one of you smokes, now is a great time to quit. Get help from your doctor or The American Cancer Society.
Also help your partner stay away from alcohol and street drugs. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause birth defects. Make fun non-alcoholic drinks together. If your partner drinks a lot and cannot stop, get help for her. Illegal drugs can hurt your baby. If you use illegal drugs stop now for your baby’s sake. Talk to your doctor about prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines and herbal products. Your doctor will make sure that any prescription or over-the-counter medicine is safe for your baby.
Make sure your partner stays away from dangerous household products: Keep paint, paint thinner, solvents and pesticides away from your partner. Don’t let her empty a cat’s litter box. Refer to:www.marchofdimes.com/Hazardous Substances and Chemicals.
Exercise during pregnancy is very important: Walking is easy and cheap and can be done almost anywhere. Check with your partner’s healthcare provider for the safest kinds of exercise you can do together.
Continue to have sex if you and your partner wish to do so: In most cases, it is safe for a couple to have sex during pregnancy. Check with your partner’s healthcare provider. To avoid sexually transmitted infections, have sex with only one partner who doesn’t have any other sexual partners and/or use a condom when having sex. Discuss HIV testing for you and your partner with your healthcare provider.
Let your partner get rest and lower her stress: Letting your partner rest when she needs to relax is good for her and the baby. You can help by cleaning up, shopping for groceries and making meals. Take a nap or cuddle together. Talking together about your hopes and plans for the baby can help lower stress.
Understand the changes that are a normal part of pregnancy: Pregnancy causes many changes in how a woman feels and in her body. You may find that your partner is happy one minute and sad the next. These fast changes in feelings are called mood swings and are common during pregnancy. Your partner also may be tired a lot of the time. That’s because it’s hard work to carry a new and growing life inside your body.
Although this time can be very exciting you may ask yourself questions; like, how will having a baby change my life or how will we pay for all the things our baby will need?
If you are worried about not having enough money ask family members if you can borrow a crib, changing table, toys, baby clothes. Or check second-hand stores or thrift shops. They often sell baby furniture at discounted prices. Be sure cribs are newer models (not previously recalled) and furniture meets all government standards for safety and all items borrowed are clean and in good working order.