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Dad's Guide to Pregnancy

Congratulations, dad-to-be! You’ve just found out you’re going to have a baby. But what happens between now and the day your child is born? And what kind of emotional and physical changes will you and your partner experience over the coming months? Our guide will help you manage the ups and downs of pregnancy like a veteran.

For first-time fathers, pregnancy can be something of a mystery. Mom-to-Be will go through a host of dramatic physical and emotional changes. As her partner, how can you help — and what types of things are important for you to know and expect? We’ve collected some common questions and answers to help guide you through the coming months.

What can I do to help my partner manage morning sickness?

In the early weeks of pregnancy, your partner may feel ill. Although coined “morning sickness” many women feel sick throughout the day. “Remind your partner to nibble on something easy to stomach like crackers throughout the day and avoid exposing her to smells that could trigger nausea,” says Samantha Van Vleet, a birth doula and childbirth educator.

Is it OK to be intimate with my partner during pregnancy?

For most couples, it is perfectly safe to participate in sexually intimate relationships throughout pregnancy. However, it is best for you to speak with your doctor or midwife to find out if your partner might have any complications that would make sex not advisable.

What types of physical changes will my partner experience during pregnancy?

“Common changes in pregnancy include swelling of the stomach and the breasts, and itchy skin,” says Van Vleet. Additionally, she may experience backache, headache, and edema (swelling of the legs).

When can I find out if we're having a boy or a girl?

You should be able to determine the gender of your baby around your 20th week. Most pregnant women have a mid-pregnancy around this time, and an experience sonogram technician will be able to help you discern the gender of your little one.

Should I plan on attending childbirth classes?

Childbirth classes are key for you and your partner to attend together. There are several kinds of classes to choose from — and some sessions are even compressed, so that you can learn what you need to know in one longer weekend class. Most often, couples attend classes at the hospital where birth will take place, so you can see the labor and delivery, and recovery rooms.

What dietary do’s & don'ts should I be aware of?

“It is important for pregnant women to avoid consuming foods that could be a risk for listeria, such as deli meats, soft cheeses and unpasteurized juice and milk,” cautions Van Vleet. “Listeria infection could cause serious complications and fetal death. If your partner wants these foods, check with her doctor for any dietary restrictions or to discuss questions.

What can I do to help my partner manage mood swings?

Your partner is experience surges of hormones, crazy physical changes, and preparing to become a mom. Her moods may be erratic. Try to be patient and understanding.

When will I be able to start feeling our baby kick in my partner's belly?

Your partner — and you — should start to feel baby kick sometime between the 16th and 25th weeks of pregnancy, but for some first-time moms, this “quickening”, or kicking, isn’t felt until closer to the 25th week.

What happens if we go past my partner's due date?

You and your partner might be worried as your due date falls days behind. Try to go with the flow, keep busy, and help your partner stay comfortable. Some other things you can do include:

  • Help her exercise. Swimming and walking a great ways for her to stay fit. Consider going for a nice, long walk together. Some doctors say that exercise can help trigger labor and delivery.
  • Make sure she gets lots of rest. Help your partner avoid eating too late in the day, and move TVs and digital devices out of the bedroom.
  • Encourage her to eat right. Maintaining a healthy diet right now is key. If she can stomach it, suggest she try spicy foods – folklore suggests they may hasten delivery!
  • Plan ahead. Use this extra time to prepare for your new baby!
  • Stay in touch with your partner's doctor. Keep your partner's doc on speed dial – and don't hesitate to contact him or her with any questions or concerns the two of you might have.

Image: Thinkstock.

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