Congratulations, you’ve just found out you’re going to have a baby! That sensation you’re feeling is a giddy combination of joy and terror, which is completely normal. You’re like Neil Armstrong, sitting on the launch pad, wondering if he’s left the iron on. But never fear. The moon beckons.
You can do this.
A lot is going to happen over the next nine rounds/months, both emotionally and physically. And while you may find yourself floating in space every now and then, our Dad’s guide to pregnancy will help you manage the ups and downs of pregnancy like a pro.
A bun in the oven is a wild ride, even if you’ve done it before. For first-time fathers, pregnancy can be even more disorienting. For expectant mums—flushed with hormones, slowly inflating, no glass of wine with dinner—it can be that much worse. Your main job, then, is to support her however you can.
Especially because, regardless of how many books you’ve read, the plain truth is that new parenthood is a breakneck series of bewildering failures for which it is impossible to fully prepare. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. On the contrary, like NASA, the more across the launch sequence you are, the better you’ll be able to adapt to zero gravity. We’ve collected some common questions and answers to help you know what to anticipate over the coming months.
1. What can I do to help my partner manage morning sickness?
In the early weeks of pregnancy, your partner may feel unwell. Although called “morning sickness” many women feel sick throughout the day. It may help to (gently) remind your partner to nibble on something easy to stomach like crackers throughout the day and avoid her being exposed to smells that could trigger nausea.
2. Is it OK to have sex during pregnancy?
Usually, yes. For most couples, it is perfectly safe to participate in sexually intimate relationships throughout pregnancy, and all those hormones sloshing about may ramp up her sex drive. However, it is best for you to speak with your doctor or midwife to find out if your partner might have any complications that would make sex not advisable.
3. What types of physical changes will my partner experience during pregnancy?
Swelling of the stomach, obviously. Her breasts might, too, although they may be tender; Many women also get itchy skin, Additionally, your partner may experience backache, headache, and oedema (swelling of the legs). She may blame you for any/some/all of this at any time, which you should cop on the chin, because it’s a) not happening to you, and b) kind of accurate. Nod and help.
4. When can I find out the gender of our baby?
You should be able to determine the gender of your baby around the 20th week. Most pregnant women have a mid-pregnancy scan around now, and an experienced sonogram technician will be able to help you discern the gender of your little one. Think carefully about whether you want to find out. It’s helpful for planning, including for names, room décor, and the colour of the smoke to fire from your gender reveal cannon. But there’s something to be said for enjoying one of life’s great surprises in the delivery room.
5. Should I plan on attending childbirth classes?
Yes. Childbirth classes are key for you and your partner to attend together, and not just because she can feel alone and emotional if she’s flying solo. There are several kinds of classes to choose from — and some sessions are even compressed, so that you can learn what you need to know in one longer weekend class.
6. What dietary do’s & don'ts should I be aware of?
It is important for pregnant women to avoid consuming foods that could be a risk for listeria, including such delicious fare as deli meats, soft cheeses and unpasteurised juice and milk. Listeria infection can cause serious complications and it’s always best to check with maternity care professionals for any dietary restrictions or to discuss questions. Read more about foods to avoid.
7. When will I be able to start feeling our baby kick in my partner's belly?
The first time you feel your unborn child kick will be barely noticeable, but it’ll hit you with the (emotional) force of a large truck. Your partner — and you — should start to feel baby kick sometime between the 16th and 25th weeks of pregnancy, but for some first-time mums, this “quickening”, or kicking, isn’t clearly felt until closer to the 25th week.
8. What happens if my partner goes beyond their due date?
You… keep going. For a bit, anyway. It can be slightly tense as the due date falls days behind, but it’s an inexact science. Try to go with the flow, keep busy, and help your partner stay comfortable. Some other things you can do include:
- Help her exercise. Swimming can help, provided you don’t make whale noises, and walking may be a great way for her to stay fit. Consider going for a nice, long stroll; some maternity care providers say that exercise can help trigger labour and delivery.
- Make sure she gets lots of rest, especially if her hips are sore. Help your partner avoid eating too late in the day, and move TVs and digital devices out of the bedroom.
- Encourage her to eat healthily. Perhaps a curry, if she can stomach it—folklore suggests spicy food can help baby build up a head of steam.
- Use this extra time to prepare for your new baby. Which is to say: refine your nesting décor, make sure your go bag is loaded and, in the car, protect the passenger seat upholstery if her waters break in the car , plan alternate routes to the hospital. Probably don’t initiate that new house reno.
- Stay in touch with her maternity care provider and don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns the two of you might have. They’ll be accustomed to nervy almost-parents.
And remember: you’ve got this. Like Neil Armstrong, your journey seems intimidating, but once you’ve strapped in for the ride, all you really have to do is hold on and aim for the stars.
Reviewed by Jane Barry, midwife and child health nurse on 10/02/2023
Last Published* July, 2023
*Please note that the published date may not be the same as the date that the content was created and that information above may have changed since.