You’ve Just Found Out That You’re Going to Be a Father!

It's an exciting but confusing time.  How do you deal with all the different emotions you feel? You may be worried about money and about your partner's health. You may be concerned about changes in your life or in your relationship with your partner. Or wonder what will be expected of you during pregnancy and childbirth.  That's normal. The suggestion in this article may help you deal with these feelings and prepare for fatherhood while you help your partner have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

Help your partner stay healthy

Pregnancy is a time of great changes in a woman's body and emotions. But pregnancy and birth can be a safe and healthy time if you encourage your partner to:

Eat a variety of foods that are good for her.

Such as meat, cheese, milk, fruit and vegetables. And watch your eating habits while she's pregnant!

If you eat right, you'll make it easier for her to say "no" to foods that are not best for her and the baby. Weight gain is normal during pregnancy. In fact, a woman should gain between 25-30 pounds.

Choose a healthy lifestyle.

Tobacco, alcohol and other drugs can be dangerous to the health of the baby. Pregnant women who smoke are more likely to have low-birth weight babies (weighing less than 5.5 pounds), who often have serious health problems.

If you're a smoker, you should know that "second-hand" smoke is also unhealthy for your partner and your baby. If both of you smoke, now is a great time to join a smoking cessation program together.

Pregnant woman who drink alcohol are more likely to have a baby with physical and mental defects. Since no one knows how much alcohol is "safe", it's best not to drink beer, wine or liquor during pregnancy.

Any drug that is illegal or is not prescribed by a doctor who knows your partner is pregnant could be dangerous to your unborn baby. Don't let your partner take any drug, including aspirin, unless her health care provider knows about it.
Do all you can to encourage your partner to quit smoking, drinking and doing other drugs and join her in practicing these healthy habits yourself.

Exercise together.

Exercise can be fun and good for both of you, as long as it's not too strenuous and your partner's health care provider approves it. Walking is a good choice.

Share the housework, especially the heavy work. If aerosol sprays or cleaning fluids need to be used, offer to do these chores, since inhaling the fumes could hurt your unborn baby.

If you have a cat, empty or clean the litter box yourself, and wear waterproof gloves that you can throw away or wash as soon as you are done. That way your partner won't be exposed to an infection called toxoplasmosis that is found in cat feces and is a serious risk to an unborn baby.

As a father-to-be, you're going to have mood and worries too. Talk honestly with your partner about these. Here are some things the two of you might want to discuss:

What are your worries or fears?
What kind of parents do you think you will be?
What are you looking forward to about becoming a parent?
What changes in your relationship can you expect after the baby is born?

Talk about your feelings so you can understand and support each other now, and after the baby arrives. Talking will also help you and your partner get through the emotional ups and downs of pregnancy.

Become involved in the pregnancy and childbirth. Together, you and your partner can get ready for your baby's birth. You can learn about your role in labor and delivery. When you get involved, it helps you and your partner feel more relaxed and secure.

Try to:

Read about the subject. There are many book and pamphlets on pregnancy, visit the your local library or bookstore.

Go with your partner to some of her prenatal checkups. Meet her health care provider and feel free to ask questions.

Go with your partner to childbirth preparations classes. Knowing what to expect during labor and delivery will put you both more at ease.
Find out if your hospital allows fathers in the labor and delivery rooms, and take a tour so you can see what these rooms look like.

Help plan for the baby's arrival. Go shopping together for a crib, baby clothes and stroller, and help decorate the baby's nursery if you like.

After the baby is born, take some time off from work if possible to get acquainted as a family. You can get to know your baby, and give your partner emotional support at the same time. You may want to ask a relative or friend to help with meals and chores while you all adjust to your new situation.

Remember that you are a partner in this process of becoming parents. By sharing in a healthy lifestyle, by accepting and being open with your feelings, and by becoming involved in the pregnancy and delivery, you can get your new baby and your new family off to a good start.

The Author:

This article is made possible through donations to the March of Dimes and its Campaign for Healthier Babies.

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