You’re pregnant for the first time. Watching your body change and preparing for the birth is exciting, but can be stressful and daunting.
It’s an overwhelming time for men, too. And your partner may struggle to adapt to the new you and not know how best to help.
Author and dad Mark Woods shows how to give him a prod in the right direction...
COPING WITH COMMON SYMPTOMS
1. MORNING SICKNESS
Morning sickness is the Ford Focus of pregnancy symptoms. Everyone’s heard of it, lots of women have it and nobody likes it. It’s serious s***.
So what can you do to help? One thing you shouldn’t do is insist that your partner continues to force down a healthy diet if it makes her hurl.
A spell of eating little else but grapes and the salt off Tuc crackers isn’t the end of the world – and if that’s all she can keep down, that’s what’s for dinner.
2. SORE BOOBS
It’s important you take this on board: during early pregnancy many women have extremely sensitive and sore breasts – keep off.
The worst of the sore-boob phase has usually passed by the end of the third month, so despite the fact that they are almost taunting you by becoming even more fulsome and attractive, the least you can do is keep your hands to yourself for a while.
Pregnant women get very, very, very tired. Even former dirty stop-outs who thought nothing of a 3am finish on a school night soon fail to make it through EastEnders. The best way to cope is simple: give in.
4. MOOD SWINGS
Even though it’s extremely hard at times to avoid a row with someone who is crying at the weather forecast one minute and screaming at a cupboard that refuses to open smoothly the next, the onus is on you to take one for the team, swallow the bitter pill of righteousness and end any rifts quickly. Think of the children, man, think of the children. Good luck.
MUST-DOS MONTH BY MONTH...
Make no mistake, how you react to a positive pregnancy test will be remembered, regurgitated and requited for decades. For the love of God, don’t convey any fear or anxiety. She’s probably twice as scared as you, so the last thing she needs is you screaming: “S***!”
Your wife’s metabolic rate starts to increase and she will begin to take in more protein, more calories and often lots of Rich Tea biscuits. This is fine and best not mentioned.
This one is a blinder. Sign up for National Childbirth Trust antenatal classes and watch the mother-to-be of your child melt in admiration when you tell her you’ve been researching parenting classes.
Become Tarzan. The slightest fall for your partner can mean serious problems. Gently suggest that you are now chief lifter and mover.
Be warned: you will be called upon, on a regular basis, to massage your partner. If, like most of us, your idea of a massage is 15 seconds of Chinese burns followed by a few karate chops, do some internet research to find a few gentle but effective massage techniques.
Give her a wedgie. Stick “pregnancy wedge pillow” into Google and buy one. She gets to support her bump in bed, and you look like the best father-to-be a gal could wish for.
Booking your partner a pedicure at this stage, when the chances of her reaching her toes to paint them are slim, will go down a storm.
Haemorrhoids, an ugly-looking word for an ugly complaint. If your partner is suffering on the pile front, buy a job lot of witch hazel – which is a good natural remedy – and offer to apply it regularly. It’s the least you can do.
Politely tell friends and family you’ll let them know as soon as something happens. It’s a long enough month without having to field daily requests for “any news”. You may think me a miserable b******, but I promise: eventually it will annoy you to the very core of your being.
IT’S A BABY!
You might have to bear some fruity outbursts from the love of your life while she’s in labour. Don’t be surprised if you are showered with obscenities during each contraction.
But you’d take sitting next to the bed over being the one in it any day of the week, right?
However your baby is delivered, whatever your partner has to go through, there will be a moment when you see your baby for the first time.
Covered in blood and amniotic fluid, he or she will be handed to your partner and neither of you will have seen anything so amazingly beautiful in your entire lives. You, my friend, are a father.