We’ve said many times that pregnancy and the arrival of a baby change life, but it is a mistake to believe that it only affects women. Men also face a real revolution and, like mothers, fathers must assume their role from the moment the mother’s belly starts to grow, and fulfill their responsibilities for the well-being of their child.
Although mom is the one who carries the baby in the womb, dad’s role is not less important during pregnancy, childbirth and throughout childhood. There is plenty of research that points the effects of the presence and absence of the father in a kid’s life.
Besides, in modern societies, more and more women are entering the workforce outside home, so it is imperative that both parents raise their kids. It is not an option anymore, the father not only makes a “biological investment” or supplier, he also invests in the care of his children so that they can be born and grow.
5 responsibilities of a father during pregnancy
1. Planning the pregnancy together, a shared responsibility
Through the study, The desire for fatherhood in men, Rebeca Rodríguez, Gilberto Pérez and Alejandra Salguero point out that the desire to be parents does not appear “naturally”, not even for women.
“It is not an instinct that accompanies men, but the product of the incorporation and resignification of sociocultural discourses found in magazines, television, friends”.
This is an important decision that should ideally be made through negotiation with your partner. “The relationship of the couple is essential to be able to account for the construction of the desire for fatherhood in men, that is, through negotiation where expectations are intertwined”.
Negotiating and planning your pregnancy has to do with your goals as a couple. Many couples “skip” this step, but it is desirable that shared responsibility begins with the decision-making.
2. Accompany the partner in the prenatal checkups (ultrasounds and checkups)
An investigation carried out among the Latino population in Houston, USA, showed that when the father had a favorable attitude towards the pregnancy and looked forward to it, there was a healthy impact, since the woman tended to seek or receive prenatal care earlier. The fact of caring about the baby and seeing it in the ultrasound implies a greater approach and connection, since it is difficult to bond with something that they do not see or feel. Accompanying the partner also implies great support for the woman, as it is a stage when they need to feel accompanied.
3. Change habits with mom
Expecting a baby is a good time and excuse for men to take care of themselves. Together, you can incorporate good habits like quitting smoking, exercising lightly, and making sure you both eat a healthy diet. You can even take vitamins! Everything is easier and more pleasant if you do it as a couple.
Sometimes it may happen that the parents present what is known as Couvade syndrome (which comes from the French and means to incubate). The couple becomes connected to such a degree that the man presents symptoms similar to those of his partner: dizziness, nausea, mood swings, and abdominal pain. It is unusual, but it could happen. If that’s the case, talk about your concerns to reduce anxiety.
4. Find information and attend prenatal classes together
Martín Maldonado and Felipe Lecannelier explain in the article, The father in the perinatal stage, that like mothers, many fathers feel ambivalence towards their partner’s pregnancy.
In the same way as the woman, they also wonder what it is to be a father, how they should behave, if they can provide what is necessary for their children and family. It is natural for them to feel “anxiety about their own maturity (becoming a parent means that they are no longer teenagers). Even when consciously happy, it is common to have anxiety and fear of the future”.
When in doubt, the fathers also have the responsibility and the right to seek information and receive prenatal classes together with their partners.
They also need to know what the gestation process will be like, what will happen during delivery, what to do with the baby in the first days. Men also require psychological support and the containment that the two members of the couple must give themselves before the uncertainty, anxiety and natural fear that can arise at this stage.
5. Prepare for the baby’s arrival
The most satisfying part for both the father and the mother: decorating the room, buying the baby’s clothes together, preparing the hospital bag, choosing the baby’s first toys.
Dad is not only a support for the woman, he is also a protagonist. He should and can be involved in both pregnancy and parenting. Like motherhood, fatherhood begins before delivery.
Translated by: Ligia M. Oliver Manrique de Lara
Spanish version: Here