Why Dad matters during Mum’s pregnancy
All over Africa, from Cape town in South Africa to Nairobi in Kenya, it is not a strange phenomenon anymore to see that proud father leaving the hospital holding his newborn baby with his friends in tow, a father strapping his adorable daughter to the car seat while proud mommy watches, playing those cute games with son to the admiration of strangers passing by, and a dad at the clinic asking those “obvious questions” to the amusement of nurses and other mothers. There is a revolution in Africa; the African Dad is rising to the challenge of fatherhood.
The African Dad has come of age and is now more actively involved in the growth and development of the children. But this does not mean it is easy. It is even harder when it comes to actively being involved in pregnancy.
Many Dads in Africa and all over the world are at a loss when it comes to their role during pregnancy even though they know that it is important for them to be part of the experience. Pregnancy needs not to be a miserable experience for the whole family. It is important for a father to know that there is more to pregnancy than the physical part; he has an emotional part in the preparation of the baby.
So, why does Dad matter during mom’s pregnancy?
Nature has given us 9 months to prepare for the arrival of the baby and every moment of this count! As a Dad, right from when you hear the words, “Honey, am pregnant”, the bonding ritual with the child starts. First time parents need to learn everything about babies while planning for their arrival and for those whom this is not a new experience, this is an opportunity for them to refresh and reconnect by relishing the previous experience. Daddy should create time to accompany his spouse to the doctor’s visit, which marks the first step towards the journey of fatherhood. Such visit also gives mom peace of mind. Being in doctor’s presence can be unnerving at times, even to the adults. But it does not stop there. Helping mommy with shopping for the baby’s items and even hoosing names provides her an opportunity to share her fears and excitement about the ultrasounds, morning sickness and so on.
Dad also plays an important role in not only listening but also talking to mommy. Mommy needs assurance that she is still beautiful and you love her even more than before. Most women feel unattractive when they are pregnant though the world sees a stunning woman. It is important for Daddy to make sure she knows how beautiful she is. She needs those assurances. Follow them with action by dating her. Not only having lunch dates, but also that once in a while romantic dinner which gives dad an opportunity to be part of what mommy is going through. It's about creating special moments you can treasure before the new baby comes along.
At times the romantic dinner or date may not turn out as you envisaged because mom might be going through mood swings. She might not even turn up for the date at times! A great Dad handles all these in stride like a gentleman he is because mom at times needs to let off some steam. Even though she could be yelling at you don’t take it to heart, remember that her hormones are making her do and say things she may not normally do or say.
In Africa, we believe that the position of the woman is in the kitchen. This should not be the case. Even though times are changing, more so, mommy needs you now to chip in more than ever. This is a good time to re-evaluate your contributions to the day to day running of the home. A new member joining the family means a significant increase in responsibilities. Daddy needs to take time out of his busy schedule to help with the household chores or any help related to the pregnancy because some women pregnancy experiences may limit what they can physically do. A massage, a scratch in the back, bringing a glass of wine can go a long way in enhancing your partner’s comfort.
Sometimes your physical and emotional presence is all that is needed to help share the pregnancy. A good dad will at times have to keep his worries and fears in the back seat. Always let wisdom guide your tongue. At times, dads are concerned about finances; about the baby’s and mother’s health; about how to handle the new responsibilities and on and on. Even though it is always smart to talk with your partner about your worries, you may also want to talk to other dads about any tips about having a baby.
Dad’s involvement in this great family milestone is such a noble cause and of great satisfaction. The benefits that accrue from full engagement during the pregnancy period will go a long way in enriching your life and that of your family.