Patient Education

A Father’s Guide to Pregnancy

Pregnancy can be a time of excitement and changes for both the woman and the man. Expectant fathers are oftentimes excited, anxious, and nervous about the birth of their new child. Pregnant women go through many different changes during pregnancy, and by understanding these changes and what to expect, you can help your partner by offering support and information during this busy time. This page goes over information about pregnancy, what to expect during and after, and the father’s role in being supportive and helpful to his pregnant partner. 

WHAT HAPPENS DURING PREGNANCY?

Pregnancy is the period of time during which the baby grows and develops. Usually the full term of a pregnancy is 9 months, or 40 weeks, give or take a week or two. Although you will receive a due date for the baby’s birth, this often changes and is no guarantee of when the baby will actually be born. Pregnancy is divided into three different sections, called trimesters. These trimesters mark certain periods of growth in the baby: 

  • First Trimester: The first trimester of pregnancy is the early part, beginning from conception to 13 weeks gestation. Nearly all women experience tell-tale side effects of early pregnancy during the first trimester-- these include nausea, back aches, and vomiting. Your partner may also experience mood swings or changes during this time. Women often need more rest in the first trimester of their pregnancy as well. One way to be involved during the first trimester is to go with your partner to her prenatal doctor’s appointments, as well as reading books about pregnancy. 
  • Second Trimester: The second trimester is marked as weeks 13-26 during the pregnancy. During the second trimester, it is most common for women to feel much healthier than they did in the first trimester or than they will in the third. Usually, morning sickness and nausea will subside, as well as backaches. During the second trimester, your partner’s body will begin to change to accommodate the growth of the baby. Your partner’s expanding uterus will cause her belly to push outward and become rounded, and the pregnancy will begin to become obvious. In the later weeks of the second trimester, you will even be able to feel the baby kick. During this time, you can help by being supportive of the bodily changes she is going through. 
  • Third Trimester: The third and final trimester is the time when your partner will have the most common pregnancy complaints. Since the baby is very large at this time, your partner may experience backaches. She may also get easily tired and have difficulty moving or completing tasks. At the end of the third trimester, your partner will go into labor and your baby will be born. 

ARE THERE ANY THINGS I CAN DO TO HELP THE BABY BE HEALTHIER?

Encouraging your partner to eat healthily and take her vitamins is one way to make your baby healthier. Supporting healthy lifestyle changes in yourself can also help. It is very important that your partner does not drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, or use illegal drugs during the time of her pregnancy. You can help her accomplish this by abstaining from them yourself, and being clean as a team. It is a scientifically proven fact that secondhand smoke can negatively affect a pregnancy. Make sure not to smoke around your partner. 

CAN WE HAVE SEX WHILE SHE IS PREGNANT?

Yes. Having sex while your partner is pregnant is definitely okay as long as her doctor did not specifically tell her not to. Many couples worry that having sex while she is pregnant will hurt or “poke” the baby, but this is not true, because the baby is safely cushioned by the uterus and cervix. However, some positions may be uncomfortable for your partner because of her pregnancy. Ask your partner what feels good and what does not, as well as asking the doctor which positions would be the most comfortable. If your partner is not able to have sex, there are many other options of ways to be intimate. These include oral sex, mutual masturbation, fondling, kissing, and cuddling. Sometimes, pregnancy can make a woman not want to have sex. This may be because of the hormonal changes in her body, or she may be embarrassed or self-conscious about the changes that her body has undergone. It is important to make your partner feel comfortable and good about herself, because the changes taking place in her body are natural and beautiful. If she does not want to have sex, do not pressure her; instead, find other ways of making her feel good. 

ARE THERE ANY RISKS THAT COULD CAUSE PROBLEMS IN THE PREGNANCY?

Although most pregnancies are very normal and do not cause problems, there are certain things that can go wrong with a pregnancy. Sometimes, these problems are greatly increased by preexisting conditions. Some known preexisting conditions that cause problems with pregnancies include: 

  • Obesity 
  • Diabetes 
  • High Blood Pressure 
  • Rh Negative blood type in the mother 
  • Cysts or tumors 
  • Sexually transmitted diseases 

All of these problems can cause severe complications with your partner’s pregnancy. You can help her by making sure she monitors any conditions she may have, and helping her schedule regular doctor’s appointments. 

WHAT ARE PRENATAL CARE APPOINTMENTS?

Prenatal care is a very important thing in your partner’s pregnancy. Prenatal care appointments are scheduled visits to the doctor’s office during which time your partner’s doctor will do physical tests and exams to make sure that the baby is growing and developing normally. They are important because they allow the doctor to monitor her condition and to make sure there are no problems with the pregnancy or the baby. It is oftentimes helpful for you to go to one of these appointments. There, the doctor may ask you about your medical history and any family history of disease. This is important for the doctor to know, because you may carry a gene that could be passed on to the baby. There are several tests to determine whether or not your baby may have one of these diseases. 

After learning about your family history, the doctor will perform several exams on your partner. These may include: 

  • A pelvic exam 
  • A pap test 
  • STD screening tests 
  • Blood pressure, weight, and height measurements. 

During later stages of the pregnancy when the baby is more developed, the doctor may perform other tests on the baby and your partner, including: 

  • Checking fetal position 
  • Ultrasounds 
  • Fetal heart rate monitoring 
  • Urine tests on your partner for signs infection, diabetes, or toxemia 
  • Blood pressure

Expectant fathers may visit DadsAdventure.com

Expectant fathers can also obtain a copy of Dads Adventure magazine Dads Adventure magazine

IN CONCLUSION

Pregnant women go through many different changes during pregnancy, and by understanding these changes and what to expect, you can help your partner by offering support and information during this busy and exciting time.