When my wife, Jackie, announced that she was pregnant, with our son, Mark I reacted as most dads should; I hugged and kissed her and joined in the elation. We were about to bring new life into the world, we were about to start a family.
But deep down inside, I was anxious.
What is Expecting From a Good Father To Do?
- First things first: show love to your partner!
At the time of Jackie’s announcement, my only experience of family was a somewhat shuddering reflection of my own family; me the youngest with three elder, totally dysfunctional, siblings, looked after by a working mum and a long distance truck-driving father who was rarely ever home.
And yet, I have only endearing memories of a happy childhood, albeit, within a somewhat ‘nutty’ household.
It is only natural that a father-to-be should experience similar misgivings based upon his own family experiences. No matter how fractious or dysfunctional a family may be there’s always one overriding emotion that ultimately binds and shapes individuals; that emotion is love.
OK, that may sound a bit soppy, but it’s the truth; look back at life and remember the positives, take these positives as a yard stick foundation upon which to build happy, loving relationships. Starting, of course with your precious pregnant partner.
Showing love for one’s partner is certainly an important role for both of you during pregnancy.
Remember, a mother-to-be is a very special person indeed; your role at any time in a relationship is to show love; but now, during her pregnancy, with so many changes, both physical and mental taking place, now is the time for a man to be that little extra loving and that little more thoughtful.
Extra love and attention will help bolster a woman’s feeling of wellbeing, increase her confidence and help her flourish into motherhood.
Love is the major ingredient in any relationship, however there are other, sometimes overlooked, elements to the magic equation.
- Understand and support your pregnant beloved.
One evening, I came home from work to find Jackie sobbing on the sofa, in floods of tears. Why?
Well, the truth is that, at the pregnancy stage, your main role is purely supportive; a man cannot conceive, cannot become pregnant and therefore can only ever have a vague understanding or the physiological and psychological changes his partner is going through.
Pregnancy is not always plain sailing for a woman; believe it or not, women have feelings too. A man becomes in danger of being overwhelmed and absorbed in his own trauma; in danger of overlooking the fact that his pregnant partner may have mental and even physical issues to deal with.
The mother-to-be will likewise, no doubt, share her man’s anxieties and, probably, have many more besides.
The man’s role during pregnancy is vital, he needs to listen to his partner, he needs to try and understand her feelings, desires, and physical state.
She needs loving attention, but beyond that she’ll need understanding, a man who will listen, and a man who will help allay all her fears.
No easy task. Especially when your partner fancies a sausage and custard snack!
- Get involved in the planning of your child’s arrival
This, for me, was the real fun bit! The hospital scan revealed that our baby was a boy; oh lovely, first purchase … a football! I certainly didn’t feel guilty at stereotyping the sex of my child; but honestly can you really blame me for that?
One of the first issues to overcome was the child’s name. Jackie made some ‘very interesting’ suggestions, which, secretly, made me cringe. However, it made for lively conversation and quite a few laughs. We settled on Mark Andrew, nothing too adventurous, nothing too outrageous.
The point being is to get involved in all decisions, from the choice of name to the purchase of clothes, toys to the refurbishment of the spare room into a nursery.
Also, the budding father will, no doubt, be offered the chance to take part in antenatal classes. It really is a great bonding exercise, it enables the male species to appreciate what a woman is going through and to prepare for what yet has to come. The dad-to-be may even get some practice at changing a nappy … such joy.
This early involvement lays good, strong foundations for a spirit of unity that will evolve into family.
- The man’s role during pregnancy – the birth
Now is the time for you to step up to the plate! But bear in mind, this can be an extremely emotional.
Treading lightly, I now feel obliged to introduce a slightly negative note, things don’t always work out the way we plan. Some men have been known to faint, sometimes circumstances prevent their attendance. And, dare I say, sometimes, in the heat of the moment, strong words may be hurled in his direction from a highly emotional labouring partner.
OK, sorry, but these things do happen. However, no matter what, as long as your child arrives safely then all’s well with your world. All the trauma evaporates, all the love returns.
Welcome to an exhilarating new dawn!
Let me emphasize that the following views are mine, this is not a collation of typical internet clips from ‘renowned experts’ within a prestigious academic field with an imposing title ending ‘ology’. No, my advice is based upon my experiences as a real life father. My advice may not be the best advice, but it derives from honestly held convictions as to the notion of fatherhood. Comment if you dare.