Empowering fathers: Tips for men to support your partner during pregnancy

ByZarafshan Shiraz, New Delhi

Pregnancy is a transformative journey for both the mother and the father but while much of the focus is often on the mother-to-be, the father’s role is equally significant. Active involvement of the father during pregnancy can provide emotional support, reduce stress and create a stronger bond within the family.

Empowering fathers: Tips for men to support your partner during pregnancy (Photo by Twitter/Amina Filkins)

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Gopal Agarwal and Dr Sankalp Dudeja, Senior Consultants, Neonatologists and Paediatricians at Cloudnine Group of Hospitals in Gurgaon, highlighted various ways fathers can contribute to a healthy, happy pregnancy experience –

  1. Emotional Support and Communication: One of the most crucial roles a father can play during pregnancy is offering emotional support. Pregnancy brings a whirlwind of emotions, and having a supportive partner can make a significant difference. Fathers should be attentive listeners, allowing their partners to express their fears, hopes, and experiences without judgment. Effective communication is key. Fathers should openly discuss their own feelings about the pregnancy and upcoming parenthood. This mutual exchange fosters understanding and strengthens the partnership, preparing both parents for the changes ahead.
  2. Participating in Prenatal Appointments: Attending prenatal appointments is an excellent way for fathers to stay involved. These visits provide an opportunity to learn about the baby’s development, witness ultrasounds, and ask questions. Fathers who participate in these appointments often feel more connected to the pregnancy and better prepared for childbirth. Being present during these visits also shows the mother that she is not alone in this journey. It reinforces the idea that pregnancy is a shared experience, with both parents equally invested in the health and well-being of their baby.
  3. Educating Themselves: Knowledge is empowering. Fathers can benefit from educating themselves about pregnancy, childbirth, and infant care. Reading books, attending childbirth classes, and participating in online forums can provide valuable insights and practical tips. Understanding the physical and emotional changes that occur during pregnancy helps fathers empathise with their partners and respond appropriately to their needs. Moreover, being well-informed allows fathers to actively participate in decision-making processes, from choosing a birthing plan to discussing parenting philosophies. This collaborative approach ensures that both parents are on the same page, fostering a united front.
  4. Creating a Supportive Environment: A stress-free and nurturing environment is essential for a healthy pregnancy. Fathers can contribute by helping to create a comfortable and supportive home atmosphere. This might involve setting up a cozy space for the mother-to-be to relax, ensuring that the household chores are shared and minimising stressors wherever possible. Additionally, fathers can assist in preparing for the baby’s arrival. This includes setting up the nursery, shopping for baby essentials, and discussing plans for after the baby is born. Being proactive in these preparations not only reduces the mother’s burden but also strengthens the father’s emotional investment in the impending arrival.
  5. Promoting Healthy Lifestyle Choices: Pregnancy is a time when healthy lifestyle choices are paramount. Fathers can play a pivotal role by encouraging and supporting these choices. This includes preparing nutritious meals, encouraging regular exercise and participating in healthy activities together, such as walking or prenatal Yoga. Avoiding harmful substances like tobacco, alcohol, and drugs is crucial. Fathers can lead by example, abstaining from these substances and creating a supportive environment that prioritizes the health of the mother and baby.
  6. Being Present and Available: Physical presence and availability are vital throughout the pregnancy. Fathers should strive to be present, both physically and emotionally, as much as possible. This means being attentive to the mother’s needs, offering help without being asked and showing affection and care. Sometimes, simply being there is enough. Whether it’s holding hands during a difficult moment, offering a shoulder to lean on, or sharing in the joy of feeling the baby kick, these small acts of presence can have a profound impact on the mother’s emotional well-being.
  7. Preparing for the Birth: As the due date approaches, fathers should prepare for their role during labor and delivery. This includes discussing and understanding the birthing plan, knowing what to expect during labor, and being ready to provide support and encouragement. Fathers can also pack a hospital bag with essentials for both the mother and themselves. Being well-prepared helps alleviate anxiety and ensures that fathers can provide the necessary support during childbirth. Their calm and reassuring presence can be incredibly comforting for the mother, helping her feel safe and supported during this intense experience.
  8. Bonding with the Baby Before Birth: Bonding with the baby before birth can be a magical experience for fathers. Talking to the baby, feeling the baby move, and playing music are simple yet effective ways to connect with the unborn child. These actions not only foster a bond between the father and baby but also create a sense of anticipation and excitement. Fathers can also participate in activities like assembling baby furniture or decorating the nursery. These tangible actions make the impending arrival feel more real and create a sense of accomplishment and involvement.
  9. Supporting Postpartum Transition: The father’s role doesn’t end with the birth of the baby; it extends into the postpartum period as well. Fathers should be prepared to support their partners through the physical and emotional recovery after childbirth. This includes helping with newborn care, ensuring the mother gets enough rest and being attentive to signs of postpartum depression. Being an active participant in the early days of parenting strengthens the family bond and sets a positive tone for shared parenting responsibilities. Fathers who engage in these early stages often find that their bond with their child grows stronger, creating a foundation for a lifelong relationship.

The experts concluded, “The role of the father during pregnancy is multifaceted and deeply impactful. By providing emotional support, participating in prenatal care, educating themselves, creating a supportive environment, promoting healthy choices, being present, preparing for the birth, bonding with the baby, and supporting the postpartum transition, fathers can make a significant positive difference. This shared journey not only enhances the pregnancy experience but also lays the groundwork for a loving and supportive family dynamic.”

Expecting couples who approach pregnancy as a team are likely to navigate the challenges more effectively and enjoy the journey more fully. Together, they can create a nurturing environment that welcomes their new baby with love and anticipation.

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