picture by *clairity*
Before your partner gets pregnant
- Go with her to her preconception checkup. Preconception care is medical care a woman receives before she is pregnant. This can help identify health and lifestyle risks that may affect the pregnancy and the chances of having a healthy baby.
Encourage her to tell the medical provider about any medical conditions.
- Quit using drugs. Encourage your partner to stop using tobacco, alcohol, or drugs. It is important that you both lead a healthy lifestyle to help you have a healthy baby.
- Encourage her to maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or underweight may lead to problems with the pregnancy. Talk to your medical provider to be sure of what a healhty weight is.
- Encourage her to take a multivitamin containing 400micrograms of folic acid every day. Getting enough folic acid (folate) before and in early pregnancy may help prevent certain birth defects of the brain and spinal cord.
- Find out if you or your partner has a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Without treatment, these infections pose special risks. Be sure to ask about screening tests for HIV and other STIs.
- Learn about pregnancy, childbirth and being a parent. Watch videos, read books, and talk with your family and friends.
While she is pregnant.
- Be involved with your partner's pregnancy. Go with her to prenatal visits. Prenatal care is care received during the pregnancy. The purpose of this is to identify problems early, before they become serious for the woman or baby. Also attend childbirth education classes together to find out what labor and delivery will be like.
- Talk with her about what you both want for the baby. Decide where the baby will sleep and make that part of your home colorful and welcoming. Look together at your finances. Discuss the kind of la bor and delivery support you want to have. This includes where you want the baby to be born and what friends or family you want with you.
- Help her stay healthy during the pregnancy.
- Help her eat healthy foods. Eat whole grain breads, lean meats, fruits, vegetables, low fat milk, cheese, and yogurt.
- Encourage her to exercise. Go swimming or walking together. Be sure to ask the medical provider about the safest kinds of exercise during pregnancy.
- Encourage her to talk to her provider about taking any kind of medicine to make sure it's safe to take.
- If she is still using drugs, help her to stop using tobacco, drugs, and alcohol.
- Help her stay away from hazardous substances that can harm the baby. These include secondhand smoke, some cleansers, and insecticides. If you have a cat, don't let her change the litter box - cat feces can cause an infection that could hurt the baby.
- Help her rest and lower her stress. Help around the house. Clean up, shop for groceries, cook meals. Talking together about your hopes and plans for the baby can help lower stress.
- Have safe sex with your partner. In most cases, it's OK to have sex during pregnancy. Have sex if you both want to. Be sure you and your partner don't have any other sex partners. If necessary take appropriate precautions - use a condom to prevent spreading any STIs. Have fun but consider being less aggressive until some time after the pregnancy.
- BE SUPPORTIVE ABOUT breastfeedING. Breast milk is the best food for the baby. Dad's attitude toward breastfeeding is one of the most important factors in whether or not a mother begins and continues to breastfeed. Learn as much as you can about breastfeeding. Be sure to respect her decision on whether or not she breastfeeds.
During labor and delivery.
- Here is what you can do to help your partner during labor and delivery:
- Tell her she is doing a great job. Be there in support.
- Understand if gets angry. Having a baby is tough.
- Walk around with her. She will tell you when she is unable to continue walking.
- Take deep breaths with her. Remember what you learned during those childbirth and pregnancy education classes you took.
- Feed her ice chips if her medical provider says its ok.
- Tell her medical provider what she needs. You should know her pretty well.
- If you are having a hard time or are feeling sick, ask a nurse or other support person to help out.
After your baby is born.
- Here is what you can do to be a good dad after you take your baby home.
- Take some time off from work. This will help you develop a special relationship with your new baby.
- Be patient with the baby and with your partner. New babies cry a lot because they are unable to tell you what they need. This is new for all of you and takes some getting used to. May I suggest hanging out a pediatrician's office for a few days in the month before baby is born to acclimate yourself to the soothing sounds of a baby's cry.
- Ask friends and family for help. This is not the time to be shy about asking for help with cleaning, grocery shopping and meals. Everyone needs help with a new baby!
- Rest. Make sure both you and your partner get plenty of rest.
- Take care of the baby. This baby is now priority number one. Change diapers, give baths, rock the baby, cuddle the baby, read to the baby, and sing the baby to sleep.
- SUPPORT YOUR PARTNER'S BREASTFEEDING. Bring the baby to your partner for night feeding and help them get comfortable.