Published on June 21, 2022
Read Time: Four Minutes
Just as new mothers often have uncertainties after they find out that they are pregnant, learning that you are going to be a father can bring up a variety of emotions and questions, too.
Phelps Health OB/GYN Jenny Pennycook, MD, FACOG, answers common questions new dads may have and offers tips for what to expect when your partner is expecting.
“Receiving news of pregnancy can bring on a range of feelings — some positive and sometimes, anxiety, shock or numbness,” Dr. Pennycook says.
She notes that whatever you may be feeling is normal and to discuss your feelings with your partner. Try to offer reassurance, and show interest.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has several pregnancy resources. Dr. Pennycook also recommends reading the following pregnancy books with your partner:
- Your Pregnancy and Childbirth
- What to Expect When You’re Expecting
- The Expectant Father
- Dude, You’re Gonna Be a Dad!
So, how can a new dad support his partner throughout pregnancy, during labor and delivery and after the baby is born? Check out these tips:
If your partner is craving strange foods while pregnant, Dr. Pennycook notes that these cravings are normal and suggests you be supportive when she asks for certain foods.
“If she wants something at 2:00 AM, go get it,” Dr. Pennycook says.
Changes in Hormones/Moods
Dr. Pennycook also reminds dads that their partner’s body is not only changing physically, but her hormones and even her brain are undergoing tremendous changes.
“Be supportive, and roll with the punches,” she says.
Morning sickness can last all day, not just in the mornings. Taking 25mg of Vitamin B6, three times per day, can help, according to Dr. Pennycook, as can ginger, peppermint and eating frequent, small meals.
“If she says certain things bother her, give it up for now,” Dr. Pennycook says. “Most nausea and vomiting will improve by week 14 [of the pregnancy].”
One way you can reduce stress for your partner during pregnancy is to work together to re-evaluate the division of labor in the household.
“What she was able to do previously may be more difficult now and when the baby arrives. You both will have more responsibilities, so share them with her,” Dr. Pennycook says.
You also can help your partner during her doctor appointments by remembering the questions she wants to ask, holding her hand during exams and enjoying the sound of your baby’s heartbeat.
During birthing or Lamaze classes, you can help your pregnant partner by taking notes and recalling questions to ask. You will learn about how to help your partner during the labor and delivery process.
“[These classes] also are where you can prepare yourself, because watching your loved one go through labor can be scary and difficult,” Dr. Pennycook says.
Labor and Delivery
When the time comes for your baby to be delivered, remember what you learned in the birthing classes, Dr. Pennycook advises.
“Offer to get her ice chips or popsicles, massage her back and don’t touch her if she asks you not to,” she says. “Don’t minimize or compare the pain to anything you have ever experienced — it is not comparable.”
In addition, new fathers should not comment on anything that looks gross or the amount of blood. Dr. Pennycook says to trust your doctors and nurses to let you know if or when you should be worried.
One important way to help after your baby is born is to be the gatekeeper.
“With a new baby, every friend and family member will want to visit. Mom will be tired and needs time to rest. [She needs to] bond with the baby and work on breastfeeding, [if she chooses to breastfeed],” Dr. Pennycook says, adding that new fathers shouldn’t be afraid to tell visitors to come at another time.
Other activities that new dads can assist with are changing diapers, running errands and helping with laundry.
“You will all be tired, but she has taken on the brunt of the physical demand in growing the baby and needs time to recover,” Dr. Pennycook says.