Dad’s Guide to Pregnancy
Finding your role during your partner’s pregnancy
The second you see that positive pregnancy test, your world changes. Over the next nine(ish) months, you and your partner will go through so much together as you prepare and ultimately welcome a new baby into the world. The journey is just as meaningful for both of you, even if your experiences may be completely different.
As the non-pregnant partner, you won’t go through all the physical changes that come with being pregnant. However, you still have a significant role to play throughout the entire pregnancy. While your partner cares for your unborn baby, you can care for them, supporting them as they manage pregnancy symptoms and working together to get ready for the baby’s arrival.
What should you do during each trimester as a dad or partner?
From the moment you find out you guys are pregnant, you can look for ways to show your partner that you’re invested and involved. Express your interest by going to appointments, doing baby research on your own, working with your partner to stay active and healthy, preparing your home for the baby, and taking over some of your partner’s usual chores or errands.
As the pregnancy progresses, you two will experience some pretty special milestones together—hearing your baby’s heartbeat for the first time, learning their sex, and seeing their tiny bodies develop during your ultrasound appointments. Make sure to be fully present in the moment. Ask questions, and take pictures or notes when needed.
During the first trimester, your partner may start experiencing pregnancy symptoms like morning sickness, heightened emotions, cravings, and odor sensitivity. Listen to their complaints and be there for them, even when they don’t ask. You’ll get bonus points for keeping track of which foods they crave and which make them sick!
The second trimester can be a fun time. Hopefully, most of your partner’s first-trimester pregnancy symptoms have faded, and now you two can really start getting excited about your baby’s arrival. During this trimester, you’ll continue to buy baby things, learn more about delivery and parenting, and make lasting memories. (Psst: This is also the perfect time to take your partner on a romantic babymoon!)
Things may get a bit more intense during the third trimester. As the baby gets bigger, your partner may experience more pain, more swelling, and trouble sleeping (not to mention the emotional burden of fluctuating hormones and an ever-changing body image). Look out for ways to support them. Make time for your partner to put their feet up and relax. Listen to their complaints. Compliment them and make them feel special!
How can you support your partner when they give birth?
Labor happens in stages, starting with your partner’s first contractions. Early labor — when contractions are irregular and mild — can last anywhere from a few hours to several days. Your support is so important at this time. Suggest walks, put on your partner’s favorite music or shows, and perhaps practice breathing and relaxation techniques. (By now, your doula or healthcare provider will have instructed you on when to go to the hospital or delivery facility.)
Pack a go-bag in advance, and don’t forget to grab it when you head to the hospital!
Contractions will eventually increase in intensity. This stage of delivery is active labor, and it can last 4 to 8 hours or more. Your partner may experience painful contractions, leg cramps, nausea, and back pain. While they’re in labor, you can support them by holding their hand, listening to their needs, distracting them with music or television, and keeping your friends and family updated.
Advocate for your partner in the delivery room, and make sure the medical team understands her birth plan.
During the delivery, you’ll see your baby’s head first, followed by the rest of their body. Cheer your partner on and tell them how strong they are. Right after the birth, the doctor may give you the chance to cut the umbilical cord. Decide in advance if you want to do this, and try not to be too nervous. You’ll do great!
After the baby is born, you have two goals: bonding with your newborn and caring for your partner.
A lot of people will want to meet the baby, but it’s okay to ask them to wait until you’re both ready for visitors. Make sure your partner gets rest, food, drinks, and (honestly) whatever else they want after giving birth. Meanwhile, practicing skin-to-skin contact is a wonderful way to start bonding with your baby.
Pregnancy is an exciting and nerve-racking process for both parents. There’s going to be a lot that you have to figure out on the fly, but the foundation is simple — communicate with your partner, support them however you can, and take an active interest in every phase of the pregnancy. And try to enjoy yourself. Pregnancy is just the beginning!
If you’re still waiting to learn your baby’s sex, learn how our Juno Birch™ Fetal Gender Test can give you answers from the comfort of your own home.
Subscribe to the Juno newsletter to receive pregnancy tips, special offers, updates from our community, and more!
Please be aware: JunoDx.com and the materials and information it contains are not intended to be and do not constitute medical advice, other health advice, or diagnosis. Do not use JunoDx.com or the materials and information published at JunoDx.com as a substitute for medical care and treatment. You should always consult with a qualified physician or healthcare provider about your specific circumstances.