by Sam Holt
Having interviewed hundreds of new dads across the world for the Being Dad films, I've identified one universal male emotion when it comes to pregnancy -- denial. I saw a great bumper sticker once which read:
DENIAL is NOT a river in Egypt
I think it was written by a pregnant woman and directed at her partner.
When a woman discovers she is pregnant she is thinking, "Wow! I've got a baby inside me. A real little person who will have fingers and toes, a cute little face -- a boy or a girl!"
Herein lies the fundamental difference between men and women. He's most likely thinking nothing. Well maybe he'll go into a mild panic about his life being over but he's not thinking, "I'm a dad!"
When you say you're pregnant you really mean I'm a mom...the baby is inside you growing and you are performing your first mom duties by providing a safe and optimal environment in which to grow. By the same token he's technically a dad and by looking after you, and therefore the baby, he too is performing his first dad duties.
For men to be great partners during pregnancy and supportive birth partners I believe women need to start working on the denial factor from day one and get him into "I'm now a dad" mode. It all starts from the moment you tell him that you are pregnant.
Don't say, "Honey, I'm pregnant." You need to start making this about you and him so consider your words carefully. Maybe tell him by saying, "Honey, you're going to be a dad," or "Honey, we are going to have a baby."
My point is we need to get him believing and acting like he is a dad now -- not just when the baby comes out. That's a nine month head start on fatherhood. With that he will be better placed to understand that being supportive during pregnancy and being a good birth partner he's not just helping you, he's helping the baby and being a great Dad.
Pregnancy and birth can make men feel very emasculated because it's really not about us at all. We don't experience any of the physical stuff, often feel left out by medical staff and can be made to feel like we are just along for the ride.
I don't think that necessarily need be the case. As the pregnant woman you can do many things to help him to start feel like a dad, be more supportive of you and actively involved in the birth such as:
- Watch Being Dad with him. Guys from around the US are talking positively about their experiences with pregnancy and birth. The film will give him a great knowledge base but more importantly give him permission to feel excited about becoming a dad and to want to be actively involved in your pregnancy.
- Involve him as much as possible in decision making. So he's probably not going to care too much about the color of the walls in the nursery or the crib you buy but items like strollers, diaper bags and car seats might be his go. Sorting out wills, insurance and finances is also a great way of getting him in the parenting mindset.
- Go and pick out a diaper bag for him. There are some great brands like Dad Gear and Diaper Dude that do a range of diaper bags for men that are multi purpose. In doing so you're also signaling that he’s going to need to be an active dad
- Put on a baby shower for him Don't tell him but just invite a few of his buddies over for a beer and BBQ or a Poker night. No silly games or presents but a sign that you appreciate his buddies are important to him and he need not lose contact with them.
- Give him a copy of the eBook, From Dude to Dad. Tips and lists of the must know information for being a great birth partner.
Include him where possible. Remember, he's going to experience lots of emotional turmoil as well and most importantly -- start enjoying the journey together.
Troy Jones: Troy's company produced the Being Dad series and he has traveled the globe interviewing hundreds of new dads and experts. As a result we like to think of him as a "well renowned global guru in all things Being Dad;" sounds impressive anyway. Troy has a beautiful daughter Matilda, who appears in the Being Dad series. Sam Holt: Best known for coming up with a new idea every five minutes it's little wonder that Being Dad was, in fact, his idea. Fortunately, Being Dad was one of Sam's better ideas and with the help of Troy and Tom it has grown way beyond all of their expectations. Sam has a son, Hugo, who is too cute to be his. Tom Hastwell: Lured out of the corporate world by Sam and Troy, Tom has been bitten by the business bug. Troy and Sam are eagerly awaiting news that Toms wife is pregnant so that they can attach a camera crew to him for nine months and actually put him to work. Tom is currently practicing for kids.
Copyrighted © SLM Global Pty Ltd 2009. Permission to publish granted to Pregnancy.org.