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Recently, international star Priyanka Chopra and her husband Nick Jonas came into the limelight for welcoming a baby through surrogacy. While surrogacy has been an option that many couples have been opting for, either due to health issues or because they don’t have the time to get pregnant, the usual way of getting pregnant hasn’t fallen apart.
Getting pregnant is a huge responsibility already and not only the pregnant woman is responsible for the baby but the father-to-be as well. During pregnancy, a woman goes through a lot, such as morning sickness, mood swings, nausea and much more. About 70% to 80% of women go through morning sickness during early pregnancy and in about 3% of the women vomiting and nausea can become severe.
Pregnancy is not only for the mother-to-be and her unborn child but also for the new father. The father has to be as involved and concerned as he can be. Although the roles and dynamics of both the parents are different, the responsibilities during the pregnancy are to be shared equally.
According to Dr. Neha Gupta, Senior Gynaecologist and Director of the the Femi Nine Clinic, “The knowledge about pregnancy actually starts in the pre pregnancy period! Both partners should know about the fertile period. If there is trouble getting pregnant, the couple should ‘together’ visit the gynaecologist. It may be the male factor in almost 25% of cases responsible for subfertility.”
Apart from that, a new father needs to do his own research about pregnancy to make sure that he has an idea about what his partner is going through. As the woman’s body will be changing in these nine months, she will be suffering a lot, and the new father needs to cater to her needs at every step.
Dr. Swati Chhabra, Gynaecologist and Obstetrician at Urocentre said, “If men become more involved in pregnancy and try to understand the feelings and emotions of their pregnant wives, they can bust the pregnancy-related misconceptions and support their wives. It would create a strong bond between the parents and create a healthy and loving environment for the arriving child.”
Learn About Pregnancy
When a woman is pregnant and going through changes in her body, the first step that his partner needs to take as a new father is to learn about pregnancy and the changes that happen during it. Different changes take place during each trimester, so a father needs to know about it and be prepared for it.
During pregnancy, it is not just the woman who is pregnant but both the husband and wife. Dr. Sonia Malik, Senior Gynaecologist, Director, HOD and Infertility Expert at Southend Fertility and IVF said, “They (men) need to know all about reproduction, right from the beginning; how the baby grows, what are the challenges in pregnancy that the woman faces because this is every system in the body, whether it is the circulatory system, the heart rate, the pulse rate and the blood volume and the respiratory system that changes because it is accommodating another human being inside the tummy.”
“Suppose the blood volume becomes one and a half times of non pregnancy, then it causes a lot of distress and discomfort to the woman, isn’t it? So things like that happen and that they (men) have to understand because some women right from the beginning of the pregnancy will start suffering from pregnancy blues, a lot of nausea, change and weakness. So the man must know that these are normal things which can happen during pregnancy. But at the same time, he must help his wife to cope up with them because they don’t understand why this is happening,” Dr. Sonia Malik added.
According to Dr. Neha Gupta, “The expectant mother lives the pregnancy journey, the male partner lives it through his wife. The man can be more present during pregnancy by ‘being there’ physically when required and emotionally all through the journey. Knowing what the wife is going through, sharing her anxiety and apprehension, giving her courage and support, trying to accompany for hospital visits, understanding the treatment and being a part of it, and being there at the time of delivery, there is no replacement for the partner’s presence.”
Take Care of Her Nutrition
It is recommended that a pregnant woman should consume dairy products, legumes, whole grains, sweet potatoes, salmon, eggs, dark leafy green vegetables, lean meat, berries, avocados, dried fruit, fish liver oil, and broccoli during pregnancy.
Pregnancy is the responsibility of the parents and taking care of the nutrition needs of your partner as well as the unborn child should be a shared responsibility as well. As per Dr. Sonia Malik, “They (Men) can have their food together (partners) or maybe he can help in making the food, or maybe he can just make the food one day; something that she likes. Little things like these show that he cares how much for her and that is very important because in pregnancy sometimes the psyche is so badly off that you need that kind of support from your partner.”
Many times a pregnancy can be high risk because of lack of some nutrients, calcium and proteins in the body of your partner. Making sure that your partner is getting all these nutrients and the child gets all the supplies for a better future is part of the job.
Understand Her Moods
Fluctuation of moods during pregnancy is absolutely normal for a woman. From being completely overjoyed a pregnant woman can oscillate to utter despair without any reason, however, it is completely normal during pregnancy.
Mood swings during pregnancy are caused by a lot of factors. One is the changes in hormone levels, which leads to the woman experiencing a veritable flood of oestrogen and progesterone. Oestrogen is connected with anxiety, irritability and depression while progesterone is connected with fatigue, sluggishness as well as sadness. This leads to a meltdown of emotions during pregnancy.
Taking Care of Doctor’s Visits
While a woman is taking up the responsibility of carrying a baby, a new father should take care of the hospital visits with the gynaecologist during the pregnancy as well as the child birth. Prenatal visits as well as ultrasounds are a must during pregnancy and should not be ignored as they tell the parents about the health of their new baby.
As per Dr. Swati Chhabra, “Pregnancy also means a lot of prenatal visits. Men should take charge of arranging all the visits and ultrasound scans for the pregnant woman and always accompany her.”
During the first trimester of the pregnancy, the parents should go for a checkup once a month. In the second trimester, they should go for a checkup twice a month. However, in the third trimester, they should go for a checkup once in every week till the childbirth.
Make Her Feel Special
There is no denying that a woman is giving the most precious gift in the world when she is pregnant. So while she goes through all that morning sickness, nausea as well as emotional instability, the new father can at least get some flowers for her or shower her with compliments to make her feel special.
Dr. Neha Gupta elaborated, “Men can actually be their wife’s biggest support in the pregnancy journey. Be it helping with the household chores from cooking to cleaning, buying groceries, helping with the elder child (in case of second time parents), accompanying for the doctor’s visits, partner’s support is invaluable. This support goes beyond the physical realm. Understanding the expectant mother’s emotions, making her feel comfortable and giving her confidence with your presence is extremely important. And finally, a lady may feel that because of all the weight gain, increased skin pigmentation, loss of tone, her partner may not love her as much. Make the mother feel that she is still and even more beautiful than before!”
Apart from that, he can always give her a massage to help her release the stress of pregnancy. Along with that, he can talk to her and make her feel that she can always express her emotions whenever she wants to.
Planning to have a child can itself be a tough decision for both the husband and wife. However, when it comes to pregnancy, the woman goes through a turmoil of emotions, stress, tiredness and much more. Although men are unable to feel this turmoil, they can always show their support by being there for their wife physically.
“They have their work to do, we cannot tell them to sit at home when the wife is not well and most women in India are also working (during pregnancy) whether in the village or the cities. In the morning before going to the office, showing a little concern and asking the wife whether she is feeling fine or not and help her to get anything that may ease her like her nausea. Or asking her if she slept well or help her to sleep also because even sleep may be disturbed in such cases,” said Dr. Sonia Malik.
While it has been seen that some fathers tend to get distant, or even violent, there are often seen cases of sympathetic pregnancies in men as well. During the period of sympathetic pregnancy, also known as couvade syndrome, men go through major weight gain, altered hormone levels, morning sickness as well as poor sleep.
“Couvade syndrome, also called sympathetic pregnancy, is a proposed condition in which an expectant father experiences some of the same symptoms and behaviour as their pregnant partner. In more extreme cases, symptoms can include labour pains, fatigue, postpartum depression, and nosebleeds. The labour pain symptom is commonly known as sympathy pain,” explained Dr. Swati Chhabra.
Even before you get pregnant, there are certain precautions that you must take. Screening for STDs including HIV is necessary for men as it can be transmitted into the pregnant woman as well as the baby later on.
“Men should screen themselves for any STD’s, viral diseases or blood disorders before planning for pregnancy. Both parents should be aware of their blood groups to avoid any sort of blood group incompatibility in children,” Dr. Swati Chhabra said.
Apart from that, according to Dr. Sonia Malik, “In the first three months of pregnancy, there is a high chance of abortion and in the last three months also there is a chance of premature delivery. So we advise them to abstain from having sex during these months. But sometimes they cannot refrain from it, so they have to be very gentle. If there is any kind of excitement then the uterus goes into contraction and that can lead to a miscarriage.”
Along with that, Dr. Neha Gupta said, “Men should take care that they don’t indulge in excess or binge drinking, smoking or any other kind of addictions. The undergarments that they wear shouldn’t be very tight fitting and if they work in a high temperature environment, they should regularly wash their private parts. It’s also a good idea to visit the doctor in the preconception stage. The examination and baseline investigations ensure that health is optimised to undergo the pregnancy.”
With this information from experts, we hope that men are able to make proper decisions and are able to give their pregnant partner the right care and affection that they deserve.