Pregnancy and delivery: 24 do’s and don’ts for dads-to-be

Fathers-to-be, you play an important role during pregnancy and delivery even after, ahem, you’ve made your biological contribution!

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It’s a fact — as the mum-to-be, your wife is doing the lion’s share of the work. After all, she’s the one heaving a watermelon around, experiencing all sorts of aches, peeing up a storm, and ultimately, pushing out a 3+kg baby.

But this doesn’t mean you can’t do your part as the dad-to-be. In fact, you have a very important role: You can rub her back, fetch and carry, and most of all, offer encouragement when she’s worn out or weary
of pushing.

This is how you can be a supportive spouse as your wife goes through pregnancy and labour!

DURING PREGNANCY

DO...

1) … Read up Find out as much as you can about the pregnancy process and how you can help. Check out Heidi Murkoff’s What to Expect When You’re Expecting.

2) … Make time for doctor’s appointments Visit the gynae together, even if you’re busy with work. Pay close attention to what the doctor is saying. Your wife may have to rely on you to remind her about foods to avoid or when to take her prenatal supplements — her memory may take a dive as the pregnancy progresses.

3) … Help when she has morning sickness About a month after conception, she might feel pregnancy symptoms like morning sickness, nausea and vomiting, headaches and sleepiness. This will last about 14 weeks. During this rocky period, offer remedies, such as sour sweets, ginger ale, crackers and herbal teas like peppermint or ginger tea to ease her nausea. If it’s something herbal, check first with the doctor that it’s safe to consume.

Some women crave certain foods more than others — including unsuitable things — so make sure she doesn’t let her cravings get the better of common sense.

4) … Reduce her stress Pregnancy hormones make women vulnerable to stress. Your wife is turning into a worry wart wondering if baby is doing okay, what labour is like, if she’ll need a C-section and much more. Brew some tea to help her relax or give her a foot massage or backrub to ease her mind. Do the household chores, so that she can rest.

5) … Let her sleep When pregnant women sleep on their back, their baby’s weight puts pressure on the spine, back muscles, intestines and major blood vessels. This leads to pain and decreased blood circulation, making it hard for her to fall asleep. Get her a full body pillow to support her back and cradle the belly, so that she’ll find it more comfortable to sleep on the side.

6) … Be flexible Be prepared for late-night food runs — she might start to crave fried chicken at 2am. Be flexible and give her whatever her stomach is able to keep down. Some women crave certain foods more than others — including unsuitable things — so, make sure she doesn’t let her cravings get the better of common sense.

7) … Listen to her Pregnancy can be a scary time for first-time mums. Console her when she vents or airs her fears. If something specific is triggering her anxiety, do some research or insist she see the doctor for reassurance.

8) … Be patient Pregnancy wreaks havoc on her hormones. Not only will your sex life be affected, your wife will also be making frequent trips to pee several times at night. Install a night light and be sure to clear her path to the bathroom.

9) … Exercise together Gentle, regular exercise offers wonderful benefits to both mum and baby. Accompany her on walks, go for a swim or hit the gym together.

DURING LABOUR


DO...

10) … Stay calm Giving birth can be a stressful experience, so stay calm. Assess the situation. Your wife may experience contractions — the periodic tightening and relaxing of her uterine muscles. If her contractions are less than two minutes apart, then baby is on its way, and you probably don’t have time to get to the hospital. Call an ambulance or your doula, if you’re set on a home birth.

11) … Keep her comfortable Lying on her back may not be the most comfortable or effective position for delivery. Some women find it comfortable to stand, squat or get on their hands and knees as gravity aids in the birthing process in these positions.

12) … Be the best birth partner At the hospital, be her rock. Bring her snacks, talk her through and breathe with her. Hold her hand and making eye contact, smile and encourage her that all will be well.

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DURING PREGNANCY

DON’T...

1) … Tell her she’s big or fat! Be mindful of your words when it comes to her new (pregnant) size. Some women have a hard time embracing their new shape. Use words like “beautiful”.

2) … Smoke Second-hand smoke is harmful to your spouse and unborn baby! Take it outside or better yet, use this time to quit.

3) … Eat smelly food The smell of some foods can trigger vomiting. If you want durians or mee pok, eat these outside.

4) … Be afraid of getting intimate It can be fun if you just relax! Just because she’s pregnant, it doesn’t mean she’s breakable or that baby will be harmed if you want to do the horizontal tango with your wife.

Your upset stomach and sore back are not the same as her ongoing nausea. Don’t even compare your ailments to the labour pains that she’s going to feel!

5) … Change the temperature The thermostat in a pregnant woman is a little off — let her reduce the temperature if she wants a colder room.

6) … Compare your aches to hers Your upset stomach and sore back are not the same as her ongoing nausea and aching back. Don’t even compare your ailments to the labour pains that she’s going to feel!

7) … Complain About the dirty dishes or why dinner isn’t ready. If she wants to spend the day lying down, let her. Listen to her and respond to her needs.

DURING LABOUR


DON’T...

8) … Panic When your wife’s water bag breaks — stay calm. Run a shower for her and give her something to eat or drink to keep her energy levels up. Go through your checklist quickly to make sure you have everything you need before leaving for the hospital

9) … Leave her in the middle of a contraction The last thing she needs is for you to run off to find a doctor. Wait until the contraction has finished, then locate the doctor.

10) … Bark instructions Don’t shout for her to push and breathe. She might end up pushing when she shouldn’t. Let her push when it feels natural.

11) … Say that you’re hungry Leaving her alone in the delivery room while she crunches on nothing but ice cubes while you ease your hunger is plain insensitive. Don’t be surprised if she tells you not to return to the delivery room after you’ve satisfied your hunger pangs.

12) … Leave after delivery Don’t rush out seconds after the birth to text the world or meet your pals. Stay with her, get her a drink of water, tell her how great she was, and have a cuddle with your new baby. And cancel all appointments until the following week!

Photos: iStock

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