Being Dad

13 ways to fast-track Fatherhood

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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

She may be the pregnant one, but what you do and say can make for a healthier, happier pregnancy, while giving your little one the best start in life.

For men pregnancy is like a Premiership clash – you watch, you listen, you wince, cheer and grimace, but whatever you do has little effect on the final score. But that doesn’t make you utterly useless.

“A man can have a dramatic impact on a pregnant women’s emotional and physical state,” says Armin Brott, co-author of The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips and Advice for Dads-to-be (Abbeville Press, £7.95). Here is how your support during pregnancy will ensure you’re part of a winning team.

Have the right answers

Planned or not, the reality of hearing, ‘I am pregnant,’ takes some adjusting to.
What you do: Ask questions. NOT, ‘Is it mine?’ nor, ‘How did that happen?’ but, ‘How do you feel about it?’ “Even if the pregnancy was planned, she’ll be anxious about her career, her body, and what it means for you as a couple,” says Valerie Goedkoop, founder of Asking her how she feels shows you’re thinking about her – while also giving you time to formulate an appropriate answer to: ‘How do you feel about it?’ which will be her next question.

Be up for the cup

In a cruel twist of fate, a woman feels at her most tired, sick and bloated just as pregnancy causes her to look her most sexy.
What you do: DON’T see this as a good time to cop a feel. DO buy her some underwear from Hotmilk, a company that specializes in beautiful lingerie for pregnant women ( “During pregnancy a woman’s breasts gain 2-3lb in weight,” says Goedkoop. So investing in her breasts like this will make her feel more comfortable, not to mention attractive. Plus later, when she hits the horny phase (see ‘Don’t let love fade’, below), you’ll get a great return on your money.

Stop that sickening feeling

Let’s get this straight – morning sickness is not morning sickness, its any-time-of-day-or-night sickness.
What you do: Starting the day with something inside her (no, we don’t mean you) is one of the best ways to ward off the sickness, so bring her food in bed. “Eating lightly salted foods such as oatcakes or pretzels with sweet-tasting fruit and plenty of water will ease her queasy feelings,” says registered nutritionist Carina Norris, author of ‘You Are What You Eat: The Meal Planner That Will Save Your Life’ (Virgin, £9.99).

Keep a lid on it

Most women know they’re pregnant long before they tell the world – the reason being that around 50% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, usually before 12 weeks.
What you do: Tell only a close confidant – if anyone. “Nothing makes the emotional pain of a miscarriage any easier. Sometimes it’s better if people know you were pregnant, so they understand,” says prominent midwife Caroline Flint and former president of Royal College of Midwives. “Others prefer to keep their secret until later.”

Learn baby talk

She simply can’t get enough of it: names, nursery décor, nappies, breast or bottle – best you know this lingo too.
What you do: Buy a book written specifically with dads in mind. It shows you’re interested and want to be informed – but lets you do it on your own terms and in your own time, (It’s also perfect to snooze behind on the sofa.) We recommend Jon Smith’s ‘A Bloke’s Guide to Pregnancy’ (Hay House UK, £8.99).

Take a peek

“The first ultrasound scan is usually at about 12 weeks,” says Flint. “It’s very emotional for both of you to see the little baby busy in his or her cosy world. Many women don’t even feel pregnant until they see this proof.”
What you do: Hold her hand, wipe away a tear or grin like an idiot. Just make sure you’re there.

Stop ‘eating for two’

She won’t like hearing this (especially not from you, so let someone else break it to her), but she’s not really ‘eating for two’. In fact, she only needs to eat 300-350 extra calories a day during the final three months – that’s equivalent of a glass of milk and a banana.
Solution: Avoid getting pregnant yourself. When her diet goes to pot, it often results in a pot belly for you. Research has shown that many men gain weight in the nine months leading to their baby’s birth, not to mention a feeling sickness and fatigue as well. This sympathetic response is so common it’s even got a name: Couvade Syndrome. Ensure there are always plenty of healthy snacks in the house, such as fruit, yoghurts and cereal bars to help you both eat well.

Keep your hand in

Like Joey Barton your growing baby will kick out a lot – but not necessarily at the time when you’ve got your hand on her belly.
What you do: Don’t give up, no matter how boring it gets. And give your unborn baby a good talking to. “A man’s deeper vocal tones travel better in the liquid surrounding the baby in the womb,” says Brott. “Read out load from a book or just say whatever comes into your head.” It could be just the thing to get a kick out of your little one.

Lay down plans

‘Will that be to have at home or here?’ or ‘With drugs or without?’ That’s birth these days, like ordering fast food – or worse. Best get a birth plan sorted.
What you do: “Your choices come from knowledge, so it’s important to attend classes that fill you in on what is likely to happen and how your partner will feel,” says Flint. Antenatal gen-up courses are usually held at the hospital or via the National Childbirth Trust. If you can’t make them watch a DVD from

Don’t let love fade

Just as you’re getting used to not being allowed to touch her, that sex drive returns…with a vengeance. Problem is, there’s stuff getting in the way – her belly, your fear of hurting the baby or simple lack of attraction.
What you do: Go for it – once the baby’s arrived you’ll look back at every missed sex opportunity with suicidal regret. “Try the spoons position, where you both lie on your sides, fitting together like a pair of spoons,” says sex educator and relationship expert, Yvonne K Fullbright PhD, author of ‘Your Orgasmic Pregnancy: Little Sex Secrets Every Hot Mama Should Know (Hunter House, £10.99), “Woman on top is also good if she has the energy.”

Clean up her act

Supposedly a sign that the baby’s really on its way, ‘nesting instinct’ is when your partner feel an overpowering desire to spray, scrub and scour everything in sight.
What you do: Do the cleaning yourself, get relatives in to help, or pay someone else to do it. Why? Because her doing it could harm your unborn baby: a Bristol University study found that regular use of household cleaning products during pregnancy is associated with childhood asthma.

Say ‘bye bed, hi sofa’

Getting sleep in the last couple of months is extremely difficult – imagine a 12lb backpack attached to your stomach.
What you do: Sleep on the sofa or in the spare room if it means her – and you – will get a better night’s sleep. And sign up for a couple’s massage class. ‘This is the perfect way to maintain intimacy at a time when sex and cuddling can become physically difficult,’ says Brott. “It’s also a great way for both of you to relax, making sleep come easier.”

Prepare for take-off

Whether she’s terrified of the birth process or impatient to get started, chances are the last few weeks will be extremely frustrating. Sleeping is difficult because of the huge bump and needing the loo every hour or so, eating can be difficult, and she’s also realizing that soon she’ll have no time to herself.
What you do: Make yourself useful by completing this list: fill in all the child benefit forms (leaving the birth date blank); source phone numbers and addresses for birth registration; and check the parking situation at your chosen hospital.

Look after number one

Don’t neglect your own duties as a Dad-to-be. Check your rights. If you’re in full-time employment, you’re entitled to paid time off work, as well as unpaid leave. Go to for more info.
Get out often. See your mates at least once a week because you won’t have the energy in the first few weeks after the baby’s born.

Go out some more. Don’t forget to spend time with your pregnant partner too. Although you’ll be together a lot once the baby’s born, normal couple activities like going out for dinner require a lot more planning.
Strip for her. Get wallpaper off the walls and redecorate the nursery exactly the way she want it. It will make her happy, but just as important, it allows you to listen to Radio 5.

Pack her bags. No, you’re not throwing her out on the street, but repacking her overnight hospital bag means that when she screams for ‘That whale song CD!’ during labour, you’ll know exactly where to find it.