Pregnancy is an incredibly special time for moms-to-be: feeling the baby move, getting showered with attention from loved ones and strangers alike, being invited to participate in expectant mom programs offered by hospitals and retailers, etc.
Though pregnancy is special for dads-to-be, too, they rarely receive the support and attention that expectant moms do. Not sure what I mean? Here are a couple examples:
- I conducted a quick Google search using search terms such as “making pregnancy special for expectant fathers” and “make dad-to-be feel special.” The titles that came up in the search results were disappointing: How Dad Can Support Mom Emotionally During Pregnancy, Sixteen Things Fathers Can Do to Support Their Pregnant Partners, Support and Love To Your Pregnant Partner, etc. Do you see a common theme here? These webpages don’t describe ways to encourage expectant dads; they admonish men on how to help their pregnant wives! Don’t get me wrong here—I think it is good and right for men to do special things for their wives during pregnancy (after all, pregnancy demands a lot of women’s bodies). I just think it’s good and right for women to do special things for their husbands, too.
- Amazon.com, the online retail giant, offers a discount program that they heavily market to expectant mothers. The program is named Amazon Mom. Though both fathers and mothers can sign up for the program, the name continues to contain the word “mom.” Why not Amazon Dad or Amazon Parents?
We live in a society where 1 of every 3 children grows up in a home without a biological father (source). Though making pregnancy a special time for expectant fathers is no guarantee that they’ll become engaged fathers and reverse this trend, it certainly can’t hurt! It just might communicate to fathers that they are important and valued, encouraging them to further invest in their children.
Ways to make pregnancy special for expectant dads
- Schedule medical appointments when he can attend. If the scheduling can be worked out, then involve dad in OB or midwife and sonogram appointments. These are great times for dad to see the baby, hear its heartbeat, learn about pregnancy, and get to ask questions of the care provider. I know my husband has really enjoyed getting to see our little one kick, wiggle, and suck her thumb during sonograms!
- Have a coed baby shower. If a friend or family member offers to throw a baby shower, see if she would be willing to host one where both men and women are invited. This gives dad an opportunity to share in the celebration, fellowship, and opening of gifts. I know many men may not be eager to attend baby showers. This is likely due to the themes and activities that usually take place during showers. Consider requesting a BBQ or sports-themed shower, as these will likely be more guy friendly.
- Encourage him to build a dad network with other fathers. Women tend to form informal networks with other moms. These networks provide support and opportunities for playdates. There’s no reason dads can’t have these networks, too! We can make sure our husbands have free time to form and invest in supportive relationships with other dads.
- Cut him some slack when he doesn’t help out as much as you’d like. It’s really nice to have my husband’s help around the house anytime, but it’s especially nice while I’m pregnant. Unfortunately, housekeeping tasks don’t really come naturally to him. This doesn’t magically change during pregnancy! I can grow frustrated with him and berate him because he isn’t helping, or I can be patient and kindly ask for help when I need it. Similar things can be said regarding things like backrubs or snacks. Your husband may not realize you are having back pain or craving a particular food. He’s not a mind reader, after all. Be sure to clearly communicate your needs and be patient if he doesn’t meet them perfectly.
- Take a childbirth or infant care class together. Childbirth and infant care classes can be very practical—they provide information about topics that you need to understand. They can also provide an opportunity to spend some time with your husband and to build his confidence. Dad might feel more comfortable providing support during labor and caring for the baby if he’s had these educational opportunities.
- Involve him in shopping for the baby. Though women typically do most of the shopping and prepare gift registries during pregnancy, there’s no reason dad can’t take part. Dad may not be interested in what swaddle blanket or pacifier to purchase, but he might like to help in selecting a diaper bag he’ll feel comfortable carrying or choosing clothes he thinks are cool. My husband has taken an interest in shopping for onesies. He loves funny t-shirts, so he thinks onesies with silly sayings are really neat. I’m not a huge fan of them. However, it gets him involved, so I’m all for his onesie shopping.
I can only draw from my experience, so please share your ideas in the comments section below. What things have you done to make pregnancy special for your husband?