You’re pregnant – at least your partner is. But these days it’s almost like the pregnancy is shared, only the mum-to-be is the one getting all the advice. But author Mark Woods is changing all that – here are 10 top tips for men on how to survive pregnancy.
It’s an overwhelming thing to find out that you are on your way to being a dad and it has the potential to mess with your head for a second or two, but be positive and warm, she’s probably twice as scared as you are and the last thing she needs is you screaming ‘what??!!’. Besides there’s plenty of time to worry yourself sick later – just enjoy this moment.
Ultrasound scans have been used in pregnancy for around 30 years now and have an exemplary safety record, with no side effects being found whatsoever. They work by sending high-frequency sound waves through the womb, which bounce off your baby before being turned into an image on a screen. Out of 781,000 births in the UK in 2009, 12,595 were twins, with 172 triplets and five sets of quadruplets being born. Keep your eyes on that scan screen!
The Mante-natal class
Antenatal classes might seem a long way off but the best ones get booked up way ahead of time. The sessions run by the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) get snapped up especially quickly and have – rightly or wrongly – more of a reputation for forging long-lasting friendships among parents than some of the NHS-run ones. Get online, get on the phone, find out the details and watch the mother-to-be of your child melt in admiration as you tell her you’ve been doing a bit of research into parenting classes.
Are you sitting down? Good. Here are a few financial home truths for you.
According to various pieces of research, parents in Britain spend an average of £13,696 in their baby’s first year, once childcare and loss of earnings are taken into account. Even with many mums going back to work after 12 months or so, the average baby spend for the second year weighs in at £4,305, and £4,998 for the third year. In fact the average cost of raising a child from birth to the age of 21 has been calculated to be £186,032. That’s £738 a month. Every month. For 21 years!
The Phantom Pregnancy
If the anticipated costs haven’t given you a headache, Couvade syndrome might. Phantom Pregnancy as it is better known has been documented throughout the ages and some studies put the number of expectant dads who suffer from it in some shape or form as high as 65 per cent. The condition presents itself in men with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, back pain, toothache and exhaustion. For many the symptoms are pretty subtle, a spot of weight gain here, an unexplained ache or pain there. Other men though have full-blown mirror pregnancies, having exactly the same symptoms at exactly the same time as their wives. Any excuse to start eating for two, eh!
There was a time, not all that long ago, when leaning into your partner’s tummy and talking to your unborn baby was seen as being right up there on the pottiness scale with Prince Charles debating with his dahlias. Now though, scientists are pretty convinced that the baby is capable of learning to recognise the voice of not only his mother-to-be, but his father-to-be too, as well as pieces of oft-repeated music. So get chatting to your child right now, it’s never too early to start the indoctrination process toward your football or rugby club.
A birth plan is a written record intended to be read by the midwives on duty when you go into hospital, of how your partner would like her labour to play out. Some people structure them chronologically: early stages, transition, delivery etc; others write theirs issue by issue: pain relief, favoured positions, feeding the baby. As for whether you need one or not, the very act of thinking about and writing the birth plan together as a couple, means that you both focus on the potential issues that may arise at a time when you can think clearly and at least go some way to addressing them mentally. For that reason alone it’s got to be a list worth making
The coiled spring
Just in case you’ve forgotten, your partner could go into labour at any second so keep your mobile on, the car full of petrol and your bloodstream free of too much alcohol so you can drive the thing. And relax.
The Labour of love
There are three clear stages of Labour: The first stage is when the neck of the uterus is gradually opened by contractions. This process itself consists of three stages, early labour, active labour and the transitional phase. It’s safe to say that these three get progressively more painful. The second stage is when your partner pushes a new life out into the world. The third stage is the delivery of the now redundant placenta. Prepare to be in awe.
Your first experience of childbirth will never leave you. Shocking or sentimental, traumatic or transformational – the memories of the moment you became a father and what your partner went through to make that happen will live as long as you do. No matter what friends who’ve been there tell you ahead of the event, no matter what you see on the television or at the movies and no matter what you read, nothing even gets close to how you will feel. Cherish every moment of this day and the days that follow it as you burst with pride for your new family – it really is life at its very best!
* Pregnancy for Men – 101 Tips by Mark Woods is published by White Ladder Press at £5.99