We all know that father’s make a very special place in our lives even before we are born. Let’s say that our wonderful fathers done that double shift or sacrificed that weekly off to become more financially stable. Let’s not forget those all nighters to ensure you and mommy slept peacefully. This is just the tip of the ice berg. In fact, it takes almost the same amount of toll on the dad as much as on the mother while preparing for the baby.
Hence whenever we arrange ANCs we make it a point to keep a separate session for the expecting fathers where we talk and discuss about their perspective and apprehensions while they are entering this new role as a father.
While discussing the role of a father here we will consider 3 aspects:
- During pregnancy
- During labour
- Post pregnancy
They say it’s not just the mother but also the father who experiences pregnancy, although not physically but mentally and emotionally;
Take a few minutes every day to discuss your doubts and queries
Since the breasts become tender especially during the early weeks of pregnancy be careful when you get intimate. Avoid sexual intercourse in case of bleeding and pain. You can still keep the romance alive with some foreplay (let her know that despite of the weight gain and hormonal imbalance she still is as appealing as before).
Discuss your finances and investments with your wife to assure her that you do have a plan. This will ascertain her financial stress is reduced.
Help her with good sleep since the stress and anxiety will do a lot of talking.
Try to accompany her with every prenatal check-up.
Try to be around her when she is going through the “Morning Sickness” phase since this will be accompanied with a lot of mood swings (understand it’s the hormones talking).
Although there is a lot of literature on preparing to be a father, along with enlightening yourself by reading this you may also join a Lamaze class (which teaches you a father’s role during pregnancy and labour).
Pregnancy includes a lot of healthy eating and avoiding junk, try to be a part of this healthy eating carnival with you wife to support her and show her that even you a part of this change. Once in a while you may want to exhibit hands on your culinary skills “as an experimental chef” just to surprise her (then even if it means blending a milkshake and presenting it in an exotic way).
Encourage her to exercise under an expert with the doctor’s consent preferably through an antenatal class.
As the due date starts nearing a mixed feeling of excitement and anxiety will encroach upon you and your expecting wife
Calm yourself first and then try to calm your panicking wife (your meditation and breathing exercise lesson will be your savior here).
Since you would be already on a paternal leave you must read a bit on 3 stages of labour.
Anxiety can lead to pregnancy induced hyper tension in expecting mothers hence you need to divert her from the same. Lighten the environment by playing her favorite movies, music, call over some close friends for an evening chat over some tea or coffee
As the days pass by they may seem long so instead of waiting and anticipating enjoy each moment with her
Make sure that the mom-to-be has packed her bag if you are planning to have the delivery outside your home (hospital or birthing centre).
Stock the house with essentials so this saves you from running around post-delivery.
Update yourself with the knowledge regarding the Brackston Hicks contractions (false contractions) from your concerned gynecologists. Learn to time the contractions.
Make sure you are well hydrated and stuffed with some healthy food to remain energetic
Once the contractions begin these may last up to 14 to 16 hours or even more.
While she is being taken to the labour room run her through the breathing exercises that you learnt in your Lamaze class.
During the second stage of labour as the baby is being pushed out comfort the mother with some light massage on her forehead and hands. This is “sparsh chikitsa” (touch therapy by the ones who love you!)
If the mother is unable to maintain the much-required skin-to-skin contact you can do it to help your baby know its father (some men even get topless to get a better feel)
When things don’t go as per the plan, it becomes a bit disheartening for the mother as well as for you. This could be in case of an induced labour which an emergency call taken by the doctor in case the contractions don’t begin even once the due date arrives
In any situation, you as a father must remain as strong as possible as this will help the expecting mother to gain more confidence
In case of pregnancy induced hypertension help the expecting mother calm down with the breathing exercises.
Now that you have successfully welcomed your little angel, this little one has come with a lot of added responsibilities.
Say goodbye to your sleep since for initial few days you may have to go on night shifts while the newbie mommy recovers from the labour exhaustion and gets some good sleep.
Try to have a domestic help as laundry and cooking are your two new friends!
While you make sure that the new mom is eating well you must do it too.
Help her begin her exercise routine as soon as the doctor gives a green signal.
Learn things like changing the diapers, sponging your baby, massaging the baby occasionally, putting the baby to bed. This will not only make your wife feel better but also improve your bonding as a father with your baby.
Post-partum depression is a serious case and needs to be handled very delicately. In case you feel your wife is suffering from one do not hesitate to take her to a counselor asap. Together you can overcome this phase as well!
Be responsible to accompany your child and your wife for regular check –ups post pregnancy
For the first six months while the mother will be busy feeding the child exclusively the breast milk, help her ease down the back with some soothing massages. Attend the lactation classes with her to help her get a better ”breast feeding” experience.
In case of working and ambitious mothers let them know that you respect their work and encourage them to go ahead and follow their dreams. Remember it’s important to let her know that although she has acquired a new role as a mother with new responsibilities, she still has a life of her own and can choose to do whatever she aspires to do.
Blog by – Dr. Kranti Nimkar Kumta