Written by Dr. Michele Hakakha and Dr. Ari Brown
This year alone, there are 4.2 million expectant fathers – and they’re much more involved in pregnancy and childbirth than ever before. In fact, many fathers-to-be are so intertwined with their developing baby that they experience symptoms such as weight gain, nausea, insomnia and even labor pains, called Couvade Syndrome.
Fathers-to-be go through changes that rarely get discussed, and have decisions to make that are uniquely theirs. Here are seven tips especially for expectant dads:
Michele Hakakha, M.D., is an award-winning obstetrician/gynecologist. Ari Brown, M.D., FAAP, is a paediatrician. They are coauthors of Expecting 411: Clear Answers & Smart Advice for Your Pregnancy (Windsor Peak Press, 2010). For more information, visit expecting411.com. Adapted from their new book, Expecting 411.
- Mind your own baby bump. Are you eating for two right along with your wife? Newsflash: Your wife will lose a lot of her weight automatically when she has the baby – you won’t! Studies show expectant fathers often gain extra pounds of “sympathy weight” during their wife’s pregnancy.
- Take one for the team. Get your DPT shot (diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus) as well as seasonal flu and H1N1 vaccines to protect your precious cargo, who will soon be joining the family. 70 per cent of babies who get whooping cough are infected by immediate family members like you.
- Prepare for a dry spell. Hate to say it, but there can’t be intercourse six weeks after the baby is born. The good news? Barring any health issues, you and your wife can have sex up until the last day before she delivers. And, no, sex does not trigger labor – that’s an old wives’ tale.
- Mind your moods. Research shows that partners are not only at risk for gaining sympathy weight, but may also suffer postpartum depression. Seek help if you feel overwhelming feelings of sadness, lack of desire to be around family and friends, severe fatigue, or trouble eating or sleeping after delivery.
- Baby yourself. Have you even been to the doc lately? Studies show many men ages 25 to 45 don’t even have a primary care physician. Go get a checkup. Find out how you’re doing, healthwise. Your baby needs a healthy dad who will grow old and wise.
- Engage in baby talk. We now know that babies recognize their parents’ voices inside the womb. So go ahead, sing Hank Williams songs, recite your favorite poem or just shoot the breeze with your unborn baby. When your baby is born, she or he will already know you.
- Dads can nest, too. Expectant dads are allowed to nest, too – and often feel an overwhelming need during their wife’s pregnancy to rev up the power tools. Feel free to paint, spackle, drill and build to your heart’s content, but avoid toxic materials and fumes in the baby’s room.