As a father-to-be, you may experience worries over the mounting responsibilities of parenting, as well as the many changes going on within your wife’s body. Although your wife and unborn child may be the center of attention for nine months, the impending birth of your new baby may also have a great impact on your life. Your involvement throughout the pregnancy can play an important role during this exciting period.
Ensuring the healthiest possible pregnancy begins before conception. The American Pregnancy Association warns that male exposure to certain elements can cause problems with fertility and may cause a slight increase in the risk of some birth defects. Plan for a successful pregnancy by talking to your doctor about medications that might influence your fertility, such as prednisone, cortisone, cimetidine, sulfasalazine and nitrofurantoin. Eliminate marijuana, tobacco and alcohol — substances that may decrease sperm quality.
Pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks and encompasses three periods called trimesters. Both your wife and child go through numerous changes during the pregnancy term. Although conception doesn’t occur until about two weeks after the first day of the last menstrual period, common practices involve counting from the last period. This means that when your wife misses her first period, she is four weeks pregnant, although your baby is just two weeks old.
During the first thirteen weeks of your baby’s development, his major organs and nervous system form. His heart starts beating and his hair starts to grow. He measures about 2.5 inches and weighs less than one ounce near the end of the first trimester. The second trimester includes the appearance of genitals, eyelashes and fingernails. He begins to develop sleep and wake cycles and measures about 12 inches long and weighs a little over a pound by the 24th week of pregnancy. The third and final trimester is the time when your baby gains most his weight and begins storing fat in preparation for delivery.
Your wife may exhibit various symptoms of pregnancy. She may feel moody, tired and nauseous, especially during the first trimester. Her breasts become larger as they get ready to nourish your new baby. She may experience various aches and discomforts as your baby grows. Although many expectant couples worry about sex, you don’t need to avoid this activity unless her doctor advises against it.
Fathers often take an active role in prenatal care by attending health care appointments. These are opportunities for you to discuss your concerns with your wife’s doctor, as well as offer emotional support during pelvic exams and ultrasounds. Enrolling in childbirth classes can help you prepare you for labor and delivery.