What your partner needs to know …

Your partner plays a vital role in this new yet exciting stage of your life. It is important for him to know, understand and educate himself about the changes during the 9 months of pregnancy and what happens after delivery.

Below are essential information to guide him in your journey to parenthood.

N9NE Months

Pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks, which is equal to 9 months. The 9 months of pregnancy are divided into three 3-month periods called trimesters.

First Trimester

During the first trimester, most women need more rest. Women in early pregnancy also may have symptoms of nausea and vomiting. Although commonly known as “morning sickness,” these symptoms can occur at any time during the day or night.

Second Trimester

For most women, the second trimester of pregnancy (weeks 14–28) is the time they feel the best. As the woman’s body adjusts to being pregnant, she usually begins to feel better physically. Her energy level improves, and morning sickness usually goes away.

Third Trimester

In the third trimester of pregnancy (weeks 28–40), your partner may feel some discomfort as the baby grows larger and her body gets ready for the birth. She may have trouble sleeping, walking quickly, and doing routine tasks.

Due Date

The due date that you are given is only an estimate of when the baby will be born. To calculate a due date, try this simple formula: take the date of the first day of your partner’s last menstrual period and subtract 3 months. Then add 7 days to get the due date.

Sex

Unless your partner’s healthcare provider has told her otherwise, you and your partner can have sex throughout the entire 9 months.

Smoking

Not smoking around your partner is important because the chemicals in secondhand cigarette smoke can harm your baby before and after it is born. Babies exposed to secondhand smoke have an increased risk of developing asthma and sudden infant death syndrome.

Routine Visits

It may be helpful for you to go to some of your partner’s prenatal visits. At one of the early visits, you and your partner will be asked about your personal and family health histories. If you have a strong family history of a certain disease, you may have a gene for the disease that can be passed to your baby. Be sure that your partner knows your history if you cannot be there.

Antenatal Appointments

Your partner may have these tests and exams at the first visit:

–     Complete physical exam with blood and urine tests.

–     A pelvic exam.

–     Blood pressure, height, and weight measurements. 
All pregnant women are tested for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and many women also receive routine tests for other sexually transmitted diseases.

–     Most women receive an ultrasound.  This exam gives an estimate of the actual age of the fetus and checks the baby’s development. It also may be possible to find out the baby’s sex.

–     Later visits may include the following tests and exams:

*     Checking the baby’s heart rate.

*     Measuring your partner’s blood pressure.

*     Testing her urine for signs of gestational diabetes.

*     Measuring her weight.

*     Measuring the height of the uterus to gauge the baby’s growth.

*     Checking the position of the fetus.

*     Screening tests for birth defects.

*     Blood test to screen for gestational diabetes / B-strep.

Educate Yourself

–     Enroll in childbirth classes.

–     Take a tour of the hospital.

–     Install an infant car seat.

–     Labor happens in three stages. It may last between 10 hours and 20 hours. If an emergency occurs during labor or delivery, you may be asked to leave the room. Although there may not be time to explain why at that moment, someone will explain the reasons to you later.

Participate

–     Help distract your partner during the first stage of labor.

–     Unless she has been told to stay in bed, take short walks with your partner.

–     Time her contractions.

–     Offer to massage her back and shoulders between contractions.

–     Help her with the relaxation techniques you learned in childbirth class.

–     Encourage her during the pushing stage.

Support

–     Postpartum period is the first 6 weeks after birth. Most women will feel tired and sore for a few days to a few weeks after childbirth. Women who have had a caesarean delivery may take longer to heal. Also, having a new baby in the house can be stressful. You, your partner, and any other children you have need to adjust to a new lifestyle.

–     It is very common for new mothers to feel sad, upset, or anxious after childbirth. Many new mothers have mild feelings of sadness called postpartum blues or “baby blues.” When these feelings are more extreme or last longer than a week or two, it may be a sign of a more serious condition known as postpartum depression. Postpartum depression also can occur several weeks after the birth. Women with a history of depression are at greater risk of this condition.

Postpartum Depression

A new mother may be developing – or already have – postpartum depression if she has any of the following signs and symptoms:

–     The baby blues do not start to fade after about 1 week, or the feelings get worse.

–     She has feelings of sadness, doubt, guilt, or helplessness that seem to increase each week and get in the way of normal functions.

–     She is not able to care for herself or her baby.

–     She has trouble doing tasks at home or on the job.

–     Her appetite changes.

–     Things that used to bring her pleasure no longer do.

–     Concern and worry about the baby are too intense, or interest in the baby is lacking.

–     Anxiety or panic attacks occur. She may be afraid to be left alone with the baby.

–     She fears harming the baby.

–     She has thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

Paternal Bonding

Some fathers feel left out when watching the closeness of breastfeeding. But if your partner has chosen to breastfeed, there are ways you can share in these moments:

–     Bring the baby to her for feedings.

–     Burp and change the baby afterward.

–     Cuddle and rock the baby to sleep.

–     Help feed your baby if your partner pumps her breast milk into a bottle.

Resuming Intercourse

There is no set “waiting period” before a woman can have sex again after giving birth. Recommend waiting is 4–6 weeks. The chances of a problem occurring, like bleeding or infection, are small after about 2 weeks.

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