A Dad’s Guide to Pregnancy – Third Trimester
As the third trimester of the pregnancy dawns, so does the realization that this journey will culminate in a baby very soon. All the planning and preparations are for this one purpose and it can be both an exciting and slightly alarming conclusion for the expectant dad.
As the delivery draws near, the bright and buoyant woman of the second trimester has faded. Your partner has, once again, become easily tired and has little energy for much of anything. This is due to the baby’s increased growth and the demands the added weight makes on your partner’s frame. Furthermore, many women have difficulty sleeping late in their pregnancy as the weight of the baby and shape of their body makes it impossible to be totally comfortable in bed. You may find your own sleep is disturbed, and your bedmate absent, as she tries everything from the rocking chair to the sofa in order to get some rest. Try to be sympathetic as she struggles with exhaustion and remember that any disruptions you are experiencing are only a fraction of the difficulty she is dealing with.
Visits with the medical staff assisting during the birth will become more frequent as the due date approaches, and it is important that you make yourself familiar with the plans as they are being formed. Attending appointments with the obstetrician or midwife will not only support your partner but keep you informed and help build a rapport with the people you will need to work with when the time comes. Midwife Lois Wilson, author of A Note to Fathers: It’s You She Wants, notes that while your disposition will determine how you approach different aspects of the birth process, a man’s role during the delivery is usually to support and encourage their partner and to liaise with the medical staff to ensure her wishes are followed as much as possible.
That being said, you need to prepare yourself for the tension and stresses of the birth process too. Leah Hazard, author of Beyond Fear, Tension and Panic: Helping Men Enjoy the Birth Experience, writes for expectant fathers and has worked extensively in the field of midwifery. She believes that while women experience the physical pain alone, men can suffer the same psychological trauma during delivery as their partners. The best way to deal with this is to be informed about the processes and to discuss any fears or concerns ahead of time with each other and the medical staff. It has been suggested that the reason some men seem to act totally out of character during labor is that the situation triggers a primal ‘fight or flight’ instinct. While no one can completely prepare for seeing the woman they love in pain, or for the first cry of their new child, the key to preventing a total meltdown is being involved in the planning and having clear expectations of what is ahead.
Every pregnancy is unique, and your experience will be different from any other guys. However, the central themes of communication, consideration, and careful attention to what is going on with your partner will help to reassure that whatever you go through, you will come out the other side together and stronger for it.