My life began revolving around babies before my one-year-old daughter Della was even conceived, as my wife and I started a baby food company. During my foray into fatherhood, I realized there were hundreds, if not thousands, of resources for pregnant women, and parents in the general, but I couldn’t find an instruction manual for the soon-to-be-dad.
The process taught me how to surrender, trust, and serve in so many ways, and I learned some valuable lessons of wisdom I’d like to pass on to those pregnant dads.
CHOOSE TO SURRENDER
Despite the title, I don’t believe a man can ever be pregnant, or come close to understanding or equaling the work women do. A pregnant woman doesn’t get to decide to let her life be severely disrupted, and as men, we can choose to not let the pregnancy impact our lives much at all. But there’s so much fulfillment waiting for us if we do. Once I committed to playing an active role in the gestation and birth of my baby, my happiness increased ten-fold. The excitement of knowing that I was making a difference in my wife and my future child’s lives gave me my own special “glow.”
BUILD A STRONG SUPPORT NETWORK
I immediately began deepening my relationships with other men and close female friends. I re-joined my men’s group and started having “man-dates” with conscious men I was comfortable being vulnerable with. I called my parents more and upped my frequency of nourishing activities like connecting with nature and seeing movies, allowing me to show up more grounded and present for my wife.
BEFRIEND OTHER NEW PARENTS
I asked every father I met for advice, and still do, which is where a lot of these tips and tricks came from. I also started building our long-term family support network for future playdates, shared childcare, and an eventual homeschool co-op. Our midwife introduced us to other clients of hers that delivered their babies near our due date. We started having double dates and planning dinner parties to get everyone together, and to this day, still see each other regularly. We’ve seen many of our friends become isolated in parenthood and made it a priority to stay connected and social. We even moved to a different part of town to be closer to our friends with kids.
DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY
My wife was already a sensitive person, so the physical, emotional, and mental challenges of pregnancy really rocked her world. This means she wasn’t as grounded, patient, and rational as she usually was, and sometimes took it out on me. Although this sometimes irritated me, I was able to smile to myself and let disagreements roll-off, focusing instead on my gratitude for her doing the hard work of creating our child.
CALM HER VIGILANCE
Being physically limited while simultaneously responsible for the health of a fetus can cause women to become extra vigilant. Sometimes a little spotting would cause her to worry that she killed the baby, or, if her heart was beating extra fast, which is necessary for producing so much new blood, she would wonder if she had developed some fatal heart condition.
Thankfully, I already learned that it’s never a good idea to discount a woman’s feelings or imply she’s crazy for worrying, so instead I would comfort her, and tell her it’s all going to be alright. I would research and learn the facts about any symptom she was experiencing, give her various potential (less scary) scenarios, and tell her exactly how we would respond if her worries were to come true. Mostly I would just stay calm, not worry myself and do my best to calm her down.
TRUST HER MAGICAL INTUITION
My wife was right a lot before, but when she was pregnant, her intuition was on fire. Pregnancy enhanced her courage to vocalize her intuitive feelings more often. It was a lot of little things, like, “grab an extra shopping bag”, when we were only getting four things, and then suddenly we would find several large items we forgot we needed. Or it was big things like, “I don’t think this is the right sales manager to hire,” even though they appear to be the best candidate, and then we find someone ten times better. I had to learn to trust her and go with her gut, because apparently pregnant women can predict the future!
JOIN IN THE BIRTH
I really took to heart that we were pregnant. I devoured podcasts, audiobooks, films, blog posts, and birth stories to become as educated as possible. I attended all her midwife and doctor’s appointments and took detailed notes. I even enrolled us in Hypno-Birthing, BirthFit, and a yoga-for-birth classes. If you’re interested in meeting other new parents-to-be, Centering classes are a great place to do so and available in many areas.
I also let her know that everything about her birth was her decision and promised to support her in whatever sort of birth experience she chose. I expressed my honest desires when asked, such as my preference for a home birth and hope to catch the baby myself. Ultimately, our plans for the home birth were thwarted as our baby was breech. This entailed an emergency hospital room visit in the middle of the night. While the experience was distressing, and intense, I made sure my wife and baby’s wellbeing were the top priority and that my wife’s preferences took precedence over any of my wishes. The quintessential delivery shot I’d planned to make my home screen photo wasn’t a possibility, but we had a healthy baby, and that’s all that mattered.
PREPARE FOR WHAT’S TO COME
The First 40 Days after a woman gives birth is a special and vulnerable time where the new family needs a lot of support. I created a spreadsheet and scheduled family and friends to bring food or run errands for us regularly throughout that time. Since we had started Serenity Kids baby food, I also became an expert on infant nutrition, learning that healthy fats and quality animal products are essential first foods, and to stay away from sugars and sugary fruits. Which is (not coincidentally) also how a postpartum breastfeeding mom needs to eat, so I made up tons of homemade bone broth, liver pate, nut butter smoothies, etc.
I surrendered to the fact that I didn’t have control. Mother Nature was in charge, and I did my best to follow her lead. I trusted that my wife knew what was right for her body and her baby and I served her to my greatest ability. What a gift it was to be needed and to have my effort make such a difference.
Photo provided by the author.