Remember, you are probably the most important person your partner has throughout the pregnancy. She will look to you for support, information and a little stress relief every now and then.
Being there for your partner can actually decrease her risk of complications during delivery and increase her chances of breastfeeding successfully.
Your role is vital. So is your health. Take care of yourself so your family stays healthy.
Here are some tips on how you can keep yourself, your partner and your baby healthy:
- Get checked for STIs, even if you feel fine. You can still pass on infections to your partner and that can hurt a developing baby.
- Avoid alcohol, smoking and drugs, and help your partner quit. It’s much easier for moms-to-be to avoid these dangerous substances if you do, too.
- Remove dangerous chemicals from the house. This includes bug killers, weed sprays, lead-based products and other household chemicals.
- Eat healthy foods and exercise.
It’s always important to know your family health history, as well as your partner’s, and share it with your healthcare provider.
Handle Your Stress
Getting ready to welcome a new baby into the world can be stressful. Feeling the strain doesn’t make you any less of a man. Sharing the good times with your partner along the way can make it easier to deal with the hard times.
- Tackle stress head-on, addressing the problem and moving on.
- Take deep, slow breaths when you feel stress coming on.
- Try to get about eight hours of sleep every night.
- Make sure you talk it out with someone like a friend or family member. Sometimes they are the best at helping put things into perspective.
- Sweat it out with a solid workout or run.
- Stay positive with your partner. If you find yourself getting frustrated, take a break. Find a place you can chill out and gather your thoughts.
If things get bad, sometimes the best thing a man can do is admit he needs a little help. You can talk to your family, friends, priest or pastor. Your healthcare provider can suggest a good counselor, too. All you have to do is ask.
You can also call the National Lifeline for Support 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for help.
Learn the Basics
Pregnancy and childbirth can seem complicated and confusing for men. The good news is that you don’t have to know all the details. Healthcare providers can help you with that. When you go to the visits, ask questions and learn, just like your partner is doing. Here are some basics for now:
What’s going on in there? Pregnancy includes three periods or “trimesters” that total 40 weeks. That’s a bit longer than the 9 months you’ve probably heard about. Your baby has the best chance of being healthy if your partner can make it to the 39-week mark, but making it to week 40 is even better. That’s the most important thing to remember.
Even though your baby can survive if delivered as early as 34 weeks, the risk of problems and the likelihood of a long hospital stay, including greater cost, are almost certain. Important development of the brain, digestive system and other organs happen during weeks 36 to 40.
It’s a rough world out there. Give your baby the time he or she needs to develop fully so he or she will be ready for the challenges of life on the outside.
If your partner has delivered a premature baby before, there are medications that can help stop some women from going into early labor again. It’s important for your partner to make sure the clinician knows her entire medical history. She should share this information with her provider at her first prenatal visit.
Your support for your partner can have a positive impact on the pregnancy and health of your baby.
Here comes the baby. This is the moment you’ve both been waiting for. Being with your partner during labor and delivery (L&D;) can help you feel connected and more in control. Your presence can also reduce the mom’s stress, which helps the labor go more smoothly for her and the baby.
Be ready for childbirth by knowing what to expect. Plan for the type of pain management and labor support your partner will want. Understand her Birth Plan, which allows you and your partner to decide how you want the birth experience to go and discuss that information with your healthcare provider.
Local childbirth classes are available in most areas of Texas and are often offered by hospitals. Not only are childbirth classes a great way to meet other parents going through pregnancy, they also allow both partners the opportunity to learn about the birth process and ask questions.
Another resource for support during the labor and delivery process is a doula — a birth companion whose role is to support you and your partner throughout labor. A doula is in your corner, talking with the medical team, keeping you informed of progress and supporting pain management. Ask your healthcare provider for recommendations.
Know what’s ahead and learn more about the three stages of pregnancy here.
Read more about what to expect during the labor and delivery process.
Find out more ways that you can help support your partner during the delivery process. Learn useful tips from Fathers.com.
No amount of alcohol is safe for your partner to consume during her pregnancy. Learn the myths and facts about alcohol during pregnancy and the long-term effects it could have on your child.
Support Your Partner
The role of the father during pregnancy is greater than many men believe. Whether things with your partner are good, bad or somewhere in between — during pregnancy — you become parents together.
If your relationship is strong, enjoy it, but know that it’s not unusual for the process to be stressful at times. If you and your partner aren’t close, you still have a common goal — doing what it takes to bring a healthy baby (your baby) into the world. Here are some ways you can help set the stage for success:
Make decisions together. Pregnancy is full of important decisions. Things like where to give birth, childcare, what kind of baby gear to buy and more. Making these choices together takes the burden off each of you while also allowing you learn about each other in the process.
Support breastfeeding. Breastfeeding gives your baby a big health advantage and is also good for the mother. But it’s not always easy. Mom will need your full support to keep up this important job.
A partner’s support is the biggest reason a woman will be successful with breastfeeding. Don’t put off talking to your healthcare provider about breastfeeding and learning more about the benefits of breastmilk.
Respect her new healthy lifestyle. It’s not easy for her to give up the foods and drinks she loves. No more happy hours, and foods like deli meats, sushi and soft cheeses are off-limits for pregnant women. Don’t bring home things she is trying to avoid. You can support her by helping her get well-balanced meals.
Also, support the things that will help her pregnancy — taking vitamins daily, getting exercise and controlling her stress. This will help keep baby and mom healthy.
Buckle up for life. Encourage your partner to always wear her seatbelt and make sure you’re buckled up, too. A seatbelt should be worn low and snug across the hips. As your partner gets bigger, make sure she doesn’t stop using the seatbelt just because it is uncomfortable.
Thousands of Texans lose their lives each year in car crashes and research shows that a woman’s likelihood of being injured in a car crash increases with pregnancy. Wearing your seatbelt means you’re both thinking about your future, as well as your family’s future.
Discuss your new roles. Being a dad is a big deal. Remember, there are a lot of new responsibilities for your partner, too. Talk about how you’ll both step in — and step up — to your new jobs as dad and mom before the baby arrives.
Be patient and understanding. Sometimes your partner’s emotional and physical reactions to things may surprise you. But they’ll also surprise and frustrate her. Try to be patient, and remember: it will pass.
Respect her hardworking body. Your partner’s body is working overtime to make a baby and may be sore and tired in ways that are different than before she was pregnant. Ask how she would like to be touched and made more comfortable. A back rub or foot massage can show you care.
Get your team together. Even though you might want privacy or don’t want to ask for help, put your support team together to help you after the baby is born. Sooner or later, you’re going to need the help. Talk to your partner about who should be on the list, how you want them to help and get them involved now. Having loved ones you trust to help ease into parenthood makes the transition much easier.
Do you know the signs of premature labor? When a pregnant woman goes into labor before 37 weeks, it’s called premature labor. If your baby is born too soon, he or she can have serious health problems. If you have any of the following signs before 38 weeks, call your clinician or go directly to the hospital:
- Contractions every 10 minutes or more often (with contractions, the belly will tighten like a fist)
- Leaking fluid or bleeding from the vagina
- Pelvic pressure; feeling like the baby is pushing down
- Low, dull backache
- Cramps that feel like menstrual cramps
- Belly cramps with or without diarrhea
There are many organizations that offer support to families in need. First Candle and Hand to Hold are great resources. Also, the March of Dimes has a NICU Family Support Program that can help guide families and offer emotional support in times of need. Get connected to other families who have experienced extended hospital stays in intensive care by visiting the March of Dimes.
Learn more about the different types of STIs and how to avoid contracting them.
Help your partner and your providers by documenting your ongoing health history by creating a Family Health Portrait.
If you’re having difficulty managing stress, check out this tool from the Mayo Clinic.
Get more of our helpful documents and information to help you manage stress.