As an ob/gyn I have one of the best jobs ever. I get to meet so many wonderful people and share in the most memorable time in their lives. Personally my profession has been an asset as well, as my wife and children can attest.
For you expectant dads out there, I’d like to share some tips on making the nine-month adventure of pregnancy somewhat easier for you and your partner.
1 Making a baby is hard work for your partner. Be patient.
Once the pregnancy test turns positive, your beautiful partner enters a strange new world. She begins to speak a foreign language, effortlessly spouting off terms such as ectopic pregnancy, DHA and nuchal fold.
She notices changes in her body and the way she is feeling. Sore breasts, bloating, nausea and fatigue are just the tip of the iceberg. Her clothes begin to feel snug, while there are still many more months in the pregnancy to go. She craves the most bizarre foods and, justifiably, might be acting a bit odd.
2 There must be a reason for her cravings. Enjoy the pickles and ice cream.
Every woman has her own unique pregnancy symptoms. My wife developed a craving for soft-shell crabs in October. Of course the fact that they were out of season did not deter her. She called every fish restaurant within 15 miles. Her perseverance paid off , and we drove to an out-of-the way place. So how was the meal? I don’t know. The restaurant’s fishy smell changed her mind, and we ended up at home eating baked chicken. It wasn’t our best meal ever, but it taught me to listen to her body.
3 Make sure that what you read is easy on the nerves.
It’s nine o’clock and your partner is dead-tired. She’s getting ready for bed, and notices something weird. She looks around, and once you make eye contact, you know she’s about to tell you one of those mysterious symptoms of early pregnancy. Most of the time, you wish she’d pick up the phone and call the doctor — but she won’t, and you definitely don’t want her calling her friends again. The last time she did that, you ended up in the emergency room. And don’t expect the pregnancy books to be much help. Not only is it hard to pick a good book, it’s just as difficult to apply what you read to your situation. The best I can advise is to pick one book — just one — to use as a reference. Don’t read it cover to cover, just read about normal pregnancy. And if a problem persists, pick up the phone and call your healthcare provider.
4 Who asked for an outside opinion?
If books were the only source of information, my patients would still be okay. It’s the old wives’ tales, misinformation and unsolicited comments — however well-meaning — that drive the collective paranoia surrounding pregnancy. My wife and I went shopping at a local maternity store. While I waited out front, she was getting friendly advice from the experts. “Are you sure you’re five months’ pregnant? You look too small. What’s wrong?” We didn’t buy any clothes, and it took me the rest of the day to calm her anxiety and fear. When my patients tell me their friend told them this or that, the best I can do is smile and give them a calm, factual explanation.
5 Fasten your seat belt.
The great journey ahead will have highs and lows. You will have decisions to make — some easy, some not. I wish I could offer you some amazing insight that will make the road easier to travel. But if you go together as a couple, you will fill up your minivan with happiness and a family.
Craig L. Bissinger, MD, an ob/gyn in Parsippany, NJ, is the author of Pickles and Ice Cream: A Father’s Guide to Pregnancy.