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“Honey, I’m pregnant” and suddenly your heart is filled with joy and excitement. From that day on your mind only focuses on being the provider for your family.
This is the usual instinctive response of every father-to-be, but being the provider is not the only responsibility a man has to shoulder. Playing a more active role in this developmental process is a vital role that many men seem to undermine.

Though it takes two persons to make a baby, most often the male counterpart does not get completely involved in the nine months of pregnancy. Right from the routine doctor’s visit to the prenatal yoga classes, the mother herself is solely involved in the pregnancy process. But the father also needs to be made a part of this miraculous process. He, too, needs to be coached in this nine-month “world series”.

There was a time when the father’s role in a pregnancy was limited to driving his screaming partner to the hospital or to pace nervously around the waiting room. Those days are now a talk of the past.

The new-age fathers now find themselves getting more involved in the nine months of pregnancy. They find the need to develop a bond with their child right from the very beginning. Though this preparation is mainly encountered in western industrialized countries, men now all over the world are opening up their minds to the concept of walking hand-in-hand with the mothers-to-be in this nine month journey. Participating in prenatal classes, going to prenatal visits with their partner are some of the ways in which expectant fathers help in being supportive of their partners/wives and at the same time include themselves in the pregnancy process.

What do men worry about during pregnancy?

Men usually focus on worrying about things like finances, budget, and making adjustments to their living space. They actively involve themselves in these aspects because they are thought to be controllable, but as time progresses these worries may turn to issues concerning his partner and himself, and make it difficult for them to comprehend or deal with. This is due to the fact that men are not prone to physical changes and they feel a sense of social disruption around them.

But when they cross their first milestone, which is witnessing his first sonogram of the baby, the world around them takes a 360 degree turn! Up until this point becoming a dad was a mere mental exercise, but now, the hands , feet and other parts of the baby’s body are actually waving out to him and saying “Hi Dad”

Simple acts like laying their hands on their partner's belly and talking to their babies, is a personal yet private prenatal bond which helps strengthen the association of the father and child. But these are all usual acts that go hand-in-hand as pregnancy progresses. Apart from this, fatherhood comes with a broader set of duties, which will help him understand the developmental process and prepare him for the miraculous incident of childbirth.

Pregnancy is a difficult and complicated process and involves changes in the following three avenues:

Woman's Physical Changes

Pregnancy results in a variety of bodily changes ranging from rapid gaining of weight, to a feeling of continual exhaustion. These changes can lead to sexual intimacy difficulties, health imbalances and emotional and psychological.

Financial Issues

At times unrecognized, financial troubles tend to be at the heart of many couple's relationship troubles throughout pregnancy. Right from the expense of frequent doctors appointments, prescription drugs and dietary supplements for the expectant mother to the financial burden of future expenses relating to diapers, formula, baby clothes, strollers, playpens, post-natal and pediatric medical care, etc. can result in a strain on the relationship.

Depression

Symptoms of pre-natal and post-natal depression are among the most common of all difficulties encountered by women during pregnancy. This inevitably contributes to a breakdown in the couple's ability to communicate.

These issues need to be resolved at the earliest, and the best way to do this is to be prepared for the hurdles to be faced during pregnancy.

Women are already bestowed with the ability to cope with such changes both physically and mentally, but for men these changes seem very alien. Therefore it is important for them to understand the different aspects of physical and emotional hurdles they may have to encounter on their way to fatherhood. 

So what should a father do in order to gear up for “the day”?

Researchers say that a father’s absence during the months of pregnancy can cause stress for the mother and this may affect her behavior during pregnancy.

Mostly the expectant mothers get all the attention. She’s the one carrying the baby. She’s the one doctors examine. She’s the one with oodles of books written especially for her. However, there are a few specific things that men can and should do in the 9 1/2 months of pregnancy that will go a long way to make them a more equal participant in the whole affair.

Attending childbirth classes with the mother – this helps him to feel confident and positive at the same time coaches him on what to expect during labor and childbirth.

Making arrangements for the time of delivery at the hospital- usually expectant mothers feel apprehensive that their husbands/partners may feel uneasy or worried during delivery, but if the fathers are prepared mentally and physically for the delivery there is nothing to fear.
 
Nurturing your wife - make sure she is following a good health diet and getting plenty of rest. Take on more of the household duties like cooking, cleaning, mopping, dishes and laundry, this will help her be more comfortable and less stressed out.

Getting involved in routine doctor visits - when accompanying your spouse to the doctors or childbirth instructors, ask questions or engage yourself in conversations to learn more about the steps involved.

Reading and sharing books about pregnancy and parenting- sharing the books will ensure that you are able to discuss different styles and ideas.

Creating a birth plan together – this helps to make decisions during delivery and labor when no complication arises.

Build a rapport early- this will make the later stages much easier. Studies show that babies in the womb can hear outside noises (and voices) as early as the fourteenth week. By talking to your baby he/she will be familiar with your voice even when still in the womb and this will help develop a closer bond with your tot before he/she enters the real world.

Communicating with your partner – this is vital in identifying any anxieties that you both may have. By doing this you may find it possible to reassure one other about certain issues.

Last but not the least – you must try to enjoy your new role as the expectant father. After all a dad’s role in pregnancy is not only limited to pushing the stroller!