I always found it strange when heterosexual couples announce a pregnancy by saying “We’re pregnant!”. It’s pretty obvious that they aren’t both pregnant, so…what were they doing?
And then we discovered that my wife was pregnant – and I eventually started to understand. You see, it’s an unfortunate biological fact that the male of species has very little to do when it comes to actually making sure that the new life that’s forming in his partner has the best chance of success.
His partner’s body does all the hard work, goes through all the beautiful and painful changes, and unless he has advanced medical training, a doctor will be providing all the real support for the mother’s and child’s health.
So, it’s very easy for a guy to start to feel a bit removed from the whole process, which is a shame, since partners of pregnant women do play an important, albeit a background one.
We might not be able to stop the morning sickness, but we can hold the hair back while the worst of it is happening. We can’t stop the itchy skin and stretch marks from a rapidly expanding belly, but we can apply lotion. Our bodies can’t provide nutrition to our baby, but we can make sure that the mother of our child eats well (and has a cup tea nearby whenever necessary).
It’s not a glorious role. No one tells expectant dads that they’re doing great, they don’t get a “pregnant glow”, they’re not told how brave they are. No one gives up their seat. They might not even be thanked.
And that’s okay.
This is the time to serve your partner, which means you don’t do it for the thanks, you do it for her.
That being said, it is important to give men a sense of partnership in the pregnancy. It’s a great way to encourage the active participation before the baby the arrives, and can really help create a sense of connection after the baby is born.
That’s the other thing: men have to realise that fatherhood doesn’t start the moment you hold your child. It starts the moment you find out your partner is pregnant. You can make sure that your relationship with your little one starts off well by caring for its mom while she’s pregnant – and continuing do so well afterwards too.