We know how important fathers are when the baby comes, but it’s becoming increasingly clear how important they are during pregnancy as well.
Dads can impact the health and well-being of their kids by supporting mom emotionally during pregnancy (which reduces her stress) and encouraging healthy pregnancy behaviors. Guys are especially good at helping moms-to-be learn to blow off the small stuff and not to believe everything they read on the internet.
When a father is involved, it reduces maternal health risk and increases rates of breast feeding. And of course, by being a source of support for mom, his involvement enhances her mothering experience.
This paternal involvement doesn’t just boost mom-to-be’s support system, it also prepares dad to be an active part of the parenting team. Fathers who are involved with the pregnancy—buying things for baby, going with mom to prenatal check-ups, attending classes—were more likely to stay involved once the baby arrived.
But dads have a different timeline than moms for connecting with the pregnancy. While mom is off and running once the pregnancy test turns positive, for dad it starts later, often when he sees the first ultrasound, or hears the heartbeat for the first time. Although moms can mistake this lagging behind as a sign that he’s not as excited about the baby, he’s really just on a different timetable. He hasn’t gotten to connect with the baby through morning sickness, heartburn or bladder kicks, so the baby is less a physical reality to dads, making it harder to really feel like there’s going to be a baby in a few months.
HOW MOM-TO-BE CAN ENCOURAGE DAD’S INVOLVEMENT:
- Schedule prenatal appointments and classes so that he can be there too.
- Involve him when getting their home ready for baby.
- Make staying active during pregnancy a team effort.
- Take turns writing notes to their future child.
- Who doesn’t like a party? Have your baby shower be for both of you and invite other guys.