This is the first of a two-part feature. A financial writer at Discovery and father of twins, offers honest and tongue-in-cheek advice to expecting dads. The article was first published in Men's Health in February 2018.
So she's pregnant and you're about to become a new dad. You'll be wanting insightful truths to help guide you through this new experience. It would be great to tell you that you'll find all that in this article. Are you kidding? If it were that easy, everyone would just glide through the experience. It's meant to shake your world.
No one can prepare you. Why would people tell you all the bad things to come? No one would sign up for fatherhood! And no one will tell you the whole truth. I mean denial of some of the challenges is how the human race has kept going.
Still you may find some things in this article useful. In your journey, there are going to be joys; there are going to be challenges. Like all the best adventures.
Managing the bump in the road: During her pregnancy
It's hero and sidekick time. It's time to play Robin to her Batman; Tonto to her Lone Ranger; Bonnie to her... well, you get the picture. You're going to have to support her in so many ways. It's the ideal time to show her what a hero you can be. First you'll have to train yourself in the art of this particular war: the battle of preparing for baby. Let's start the boot camp.
This trimester thing; a drama in three parts
You'll see three months of her being so tired with no bump in sight. Baby is actually a parasite and presses demands on its host for survival. Three months of bliss follow where she's more like the woman you used to know and love, with more energy and optimism. Then guess what? It changes. She's really tired and cannot handle heat or get comfortable to sleep.
What's up with her hormones?
Look on the bright side: you're going to meet a different woman every day (and still be faithful to one partner!) Be prepared to be yelled at. She can't help it: various glands in her body let out chemicals, called hormones, to run things. It's all about preparing her body for baby. You're just in the firing line. Your strategy: agree and apologise. We know you think differently. Just bite your tongue. She doesn't mean what she says... mostly. And prepare for much cleaning going on near the big day. Best pack away those prized DVDs before they get thrown away.
Don't say it
Don't argue. Don't say those things you think are witty and helpful; the jokes are not going to end with happy smiles all around. Gynae jokes are out. Jokes about whales are definitely out. In fact, she'll tell you what's funny and what's not. Comments about how millions of other women have gone through what she's going through? Don't go there.
Morning sickness and food cravings
Is morning sickness supposed to happen all day long? Her feeling of nausea can often happen in the morning, but it's not limited to that time. It's her body's way of telling her another being has started growing inside so it's time to take extra care. Be a pal; don't eat food with strong smells around her.
Remember she has to eat well to stay healthy and to exercise for the sake of the baby and her body. So partner with her in those efforts. You're also going to need stamina. And what about her food cravings? It happens. Her body needs some strange things at times. Try not think about it; just provide it. All will make good stories one day.
Antenatal classes and doctor appointments
Women value men who support them. UK's Fatherhood Institute study proved it. Keep in mind, the more you know about anything, the better you'll be at it. Go along to all the healthcare appointments. Greet the world with arms wide open. Yes, you'll get to watch the birthing process at one of the antenatal classes. You sat through watching Alien; you can get through this.
The classes cover many solid practical tips. You just might learn a thing or two. Like how there's no such thing as a natural birth. Giving birth always involves some cutting. Now who's who in the healthcare zoo? The OB/GYN ("oh-bee-gee-why-en" for some reason) is the obstetrician or obstetrician/ gynaecologist, the doctor who specialises in the care of women during pregnancy. The paediatrician is another doctor who specialises in the care of babies and infants.
You're not alone!
Feeling overwhelmed? Help is at hand. Discovery Health Medical Scheme gives you access to comprehensive maternity benefits, like prenatal screenings, ultrasounds and antenatal classes, as well as 24/7 support and guidance through the My Pregnancy and My Baby programmes.
And if you survive pregnancy, just wait till the reality of a live, drooling, pooping, wailing human hits you. Find a dad's guide to adjusting to those first three years here.
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This is the second of a two-part feature in which a financial writer at Discovery and father of twins, offers honest and tongue-in-cheek advice to expecting and new dads. The article was first published in Men's Health in February 2018.
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