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First time moms-to-be are often counselled through what to expect, but what about the dads-to-be, here is some valuable parental guidance to help dads.

When you are expecting your baby there is much elation.  Those heady days of early pregnancy when you lie in bed debating baby names and imagining life with a little one has you convinced that the next nine months will be spent in loved-up bliss. And then the hormones kick in.  So how do soon-to-be dads navigate  their way through pregnancy? The best parental guidance we can offer is: proceed with caution.

A mixed bag

Pregnancy is equal parts difficult and delightful. Moms-to-be may battle with the changing shape of their body, the tidal wave of hormones and the enormity of just how life-changing having a child is – and often husbands bear the brunt of it. If the expectant mom is not crying over paint colours for the nursery or complaining that her clothes no longer fit, they’re excitedly reorganising the house, room by room. For husbands, it can be like living with Jekyll and Hyde and their experience of pregnancy can, in many ways, be even more of a rollercoaster ride than the mom-to-be with her raging hormones and mood swings.

Remember pregnancy is a complex period in a woman’s life often resulting in heightened emotions, so support your partner and try to understand the physical and psychological changes she is experiencing

Some parental guidance for dads-to-be

We’ve put together this parental guidance to help dad-to-be to navigate the transition.

Arm yourself with info

Read any one of the mountains of pregnancy books that are no doubt scattered around the house and ask questions, discuss topics with your wife and ask her opinion. Don’t forget to voice yours too, but be sure to back it up with some evidence (hence the need to read the many pregnancy manuals available). Many pregnancy books contain invaluable parental guidance for both moms and dads, remember this is not a woman-only journey.

Practice patience

Pregnancy tests you in many ways. Your partner may ask you the same question a hundred times – most likely about whether she looks fat in a particular outfit or if you really are excited about becoming a dad – be diplomatic in your answers, but don’t lie. If she sends you to the shop late at night to satisfy her craving for ice cream or pickled onions under the guise that “it’s for the baby”. Don’t ask her if that is wise, stay calm and comply when appropriate.  However, don’t be afraid to set boundaries when needed. Lastly, remember that this too shall pass. Another little pearl of wisdom or piece of parental guidance, is to never lose sight of the fact, that though there are ups and downs, you are embarking on a life-changing adventure: building a family.

Don’t be afraid to communicate

While engaging in conversation with a pregnant woman can sometimes feel like navigating your way through landmines, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open. Remember, a relationship is only as good as its dialogue. Tell her when she’s being difficult or inconsiderate. Remind her that the pregnancy is also tough on you,  for different reasons. Making her aware of what you are going through will make you more mindful of his feelings. Reassure her when she’s being anxious, but remember to keep it real (again the reading will provide you with acceptable answers). Oh, and don’t forget to tell her how proud you are of how she is handling the pregnancy and remember, to always affirm your love and support of her.

Accept change

Pregnancy, and especially the arrival of the baby, changes the landscape of your relationship. Instead of bemoaning your wife’s newfound priorities, namely your child, see it as an opportunity to discover new things about her. Remember too, that things around the house may be neglected in those first few months while you are both adjusting to this new lifestyle, help where you can and if things are a little messy, let it be. Parenthood alters the fabric of your being. Love each other through the changes.

Looking for more parental guidance, read our article on preparing for baby’s birth and 7 tips for newborn care for dads.

Here’s hoping that by following this parental guidance, it will help you both to embrace parenthood and firmly tie the bonds of family.