Pregnant Fathers: The First Trimester

by Bruce Linton, Ph.D.

Congratulations, your partner (and you) are now pregnant! Your baby is beginning its life inside the womb. All the care and nurturing your baby needs is happening in your partner's belly! The transition to parenthood and becoming a father is slowly starting to take hold of you. Your going to be a dad...Yikes! - - Wow! --Incredible! What should you expect during this first trimester?

Most men have a positive reaction to finding out about the pregnancy, but they may also have doubts and confusion. An unplanned pregnancy can begin with feelings of ambivalence. For expectant fathers pregnancy seems to stimulate feelings of both fear and hope. Understanding your feelings during this time can help you begin to see how your role from "man to dad" is developing.

Common anxieties in the first trimester are fears about your partner's health, worries about money, and concerns about what type of father you will be.

In the first few months, as your partner's body adjusts to the pregnancy she may experience morning sickness, sleeplessness, mood swings, fatigue and changes in eating habits. Although these symptoms are normal, you may not be use to seeing your wife this uncomfortable. You may wonder what can you do to help?

Many expectant dads start to look ahead and feel worried about how having a baby will affect their finances. If both you and your partner have been working, you may begin to think about how you will be affected by the change in income if your wife will be off work for a while. Concerns about the need for a larger house, a new car or how to anticipate what new expenses you will have once the baby has arrived are common anxieties in the early stages of pregnancy.

Finally, many expectant fathers are concerned about what type of father they will be. You may begin to think about what it was like for your father when you were born. How prepared was your dad when he became a father? What opportunities do you feel you have as an expectant dad that your father didn't?

All these new "anxieties" are the normal feelings that are "stirred-up" by finding out that you will be a father in less than a year.

In our society we don't make many accommodations for expectant dads. We are not sure what they need and what their role should be during pregnancy. It has been my experience that the sooner expectant dads can be involved the more included they will feel in their new "family." Going to the doctor's visits with your partner, talking with other fathers, beginning to look at a few of the new books on parenting are all ways to begin your transition to parenthood.

Here are a few practical tips that pregnant dads have shared with me during the 1st trimester of pregnancy.

For your wife/partner:

  • Talk with your wife about the hopes and dreams, fears and anxieties, of having a child together.
  • Make time to regularly go on walks together.
  • Talk about how your lives can slow down, how you can both do less in the coming months and enjoy the pregnancy.

For yourself:

  • Choose the friends you want to share the news about "being pregnant" with.
  • Go to a bookstore and look through the books on parenting choose one for you.
  • Take time alone to reflect on your feelings about becoming a father.

Bruce Linton, Ph.D. is founder and director of the Fathers' Forum programs for expectant and new fathers. He is a former contributing editor to "Full-Time-Dads" magazines, and columnist for Parents' News in San Francisco, California. He is the author of Finding Time for Fatherhood (Berkeley Hills Books, 2000). Bruce is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapists and received his doctorate for his research on men's development as fathers.

Copyright © Bruce Linton. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.