Preparing to become a father for the first time is an unforgettable moment in your life and supporting your partner through her first pregnancy is key. Here’s a few tips to do just that from someone who made a mistake or two.
Let’s cut to the chase, money worries often dominate the thoughts of many a Dad to be – and with some cause.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!
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%. 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.
Along similar lines 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.
As you get nearer the big day 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
We will leave your role in the labour room for another day but rest assured once your baby is born 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 most real.
101 Pregnancy Tips for Men by Mark Woods is out now. Twitter @mark_r_woods