Your body is changing, your mood is more changeable than the UAE weather in March, and your husband hasn’t read a single pregnancy book yet…
So how can you help him get ready for the realities of fatherhood?
He’s not a mind-reader, so don’t expect him to understand your every whim (pickled beetroot 11pm, crying for no apparent reason, the desperate need to clean the bathroom tiles with a toothbrush…). During pregnancy, not a huge amount changes for the man, while everything is changing for you. Tell him how you feel and what you need, and help him to help you – whether that’s holding your hand while you cry over wilted flowers in the supermarket, or the fact nowhere in the city sells proper neon green mint chocolate chip ice cream anymore. It’s hard out there.
2 Go to classes
Men are unlikely to read a book on expecting, so going to an antenatal class together will help him get an insight into what your body is going through, what labour will involve (and his role in it), and some practical tips, such as which way around a nappy goes on. He might make some dad mates too. Note: the snacks at the HealthBay classes are excellent, if you can bribe him with cookies.
3 Hang out with dads
You know those crazy friends of his, the single ones who are going to Vegas next weekend, brunch every Friday and play five-a-side twice a week? They’re not his people anymore. Encourage him to hang out with fathers of young children at least once before the baby arrives; he might be able to ask them questions that he feels silly asking you, and probably needs someone to rant to about all those late night supermarket trips he’s making in the fruitless pursuit of beetroot/ice cream/”happy” flowers.
4 Hang out with babies
Of course, yours will be much cuter, throw up less, and be less whiney, but spending time with other babies will give you both a pretty good insight into what life – or even a quick breakfast where you never finish a conversation – will be like once your family grows.
5 Make him feel good
No-one likes to be criticised, so tell him what an amazing dad he’s going to be, and when the baby is born, compliment him a lot. If you pick holes in his burping technique, he might not be so keen to do it again…
6 Try to understand
There’s so much attention on mum and baby, that the dad is often forgotten. Post-natal depression in men is real, and many new fathers have problems adjusting to the changed dynamic in their house and feeling left out or rejected, as well as worrying about increased pressures when it comes to being the “responsible and strong” one. He has a lot going on too, so check in with him. Let him know you’re there for him.
7 Give him a job
It might be researching the stroller, planning the route to the hospital or staying on top of the documentation, but making your husband feel useful in the run up to the birth, will help him feel invested and involved in the process.
8 Manage expectations
Things will change, your body will change, your priorities will shift, and sleep will be a distant memory. But it’s a phase. Remember that you were a couple before your baby came along, and you’ll be a couple after they leave home, so make time for each other.