by Robert G. Rodriguez
If you are like most excited new moms, you've hit the bookshelves for information about pregnancy and have found dozens to choose from on topics ranging from conception to labor and birth. Chapter by chapter these books illustrate and explain the changes happening within your body, offer advice on taking good care of yourself and your baby, and offer techniques for managing everything from your moods to your wardrobe.
But as if someone ripped it from between the covers, there is a chapter missing from the books. The missing chapter would describe the other half of pregnancy, the part that provides emotional stability during your pregnancy; the chapter describing the role and behavior of your partner. While you're blooming with hopes, dreams, friends, and new dress sizes, your partner is probably buzzing with confusion.
The magic words, "I am pregnant!" is like a shot from a starter's pistol to an expectant father's ears. Immediately, we expect them to adjust to a lifelong race requiring commitment, responsibility, diligence, protection, and a general reorganization of everything they felt was permanent yesterday. For many men, those three magic words are often heard as a close to their otherwise independent life.
But while pregnancy can cause more swerves in a man's life than losing control of their fantasy 'Vette on an icy road, why isn't there more information about it? Look at the books on the shelves again. Select any one of them written about pregnancy or intended for the new mom. Now look at the Table of Contents. Is there a chapter about men and pregnancy? Are the physical and behavioral changes men experience during pregnancy described? Does the book describe the effect men's moods and actions can have on your health and the health of the baby? Are there more than five to seven pages on the subject? Since your partner is one half of the "deal" doesn't it make sense to know what's going on for him?
There are advice books written for expectant and new dads and some offer helpful suggestions about becoming a good father. But these books are rarely read by women (or men) and they consistently fail to put mom and dad's moods, behavior, reactions, expectations, plans, physical changes, ideals, feelings, worries, health, or dreams together. In other words, pregnancy books are primarily written to educate expecting and new moms about having a baby without mention of how their partner's behavior can and does affect the process.
Did you know that a serious contributing cause of miscarriage, premature and post mature birthing (with their related risks), and post partum depression is stress? And that the number one stressor in an expectant and new mother's life is her partner? When your partner gets anxious, worried, begins to retreat to his "cave" or "act out" in some way, does it affect you? Do you feel that your life is stable? Is it easy to be happy? Of course not. If you're like most couples, one partner's emotions affect the other. Life doesn't feel stable unless you both feel stable. You want everyday to be calm and confident that there aren't any everyday problems that the two of you can't overcome.
So how do men experience pregnancy? What do they think about as the months go by? Is it true that men tend to be in denial about pregnancy during the first several months and only "get it" when their partner begins to show? Do they think pregnancy is beautiful? Do they ever have second thoughts? Are there ways to help manage his and your stress during pregnancy and still meet a couple's needs? And perhaps the most important questions of all, why do men think differently than women and how can this difference help you as a couple?
Knowing how pregnancy affects your partner helps you and your baby stay healthy will produce in a lasting relationship with him. As you change during the trimesters of pregnancy so does your husband. From outward celebration and inward denial to small worries and panic, men experience a seismic shift in their assessment of themselves, their relationship, and you. Let's take a quick tour of pregnancy according to men: