From curbing your boozy nights out to babymoons, and even baby tracking, Ben Smithurst calls out some must-dos before the big day. No.1 — no freak-outs.
A pregnant partner will be your toughest audience. They will demand many things, including fealty, nourishment, back rubs, and the precognitive ability to predict their next desires. Their emotions can pirouette on a five-cent piece. But you will get through this. Stay ahead of the game with these easy wins.
1. Don’t freak out
Look, it’s perfectly possible that a couple who’s been trying for a baby for ages may only be sideswiped by the life-changing implications of their conception after the fact.
And it could also be that a drunken Tinder shag reacts with tenderness and emotional intelligence when she texts him, “We’re having a baby LOL!! 👼 🍼🍼 😬” two months after having sex in a Portaloo at Splendour.
But whatever your circumstances, whatever internal screaming has begun in your head, you need to stay cool. No anger, no accusations about her saying she was on the pill, no pretending your name’s Gaspar and your phone’s cutting out and then throwing it into the harbour.
Be OTT happy if that’s your knee-jerk, but as a minimum, you need to be calm, positive and supportive. If your first reaction is negative, and especially if you’ve been together for a while, you’ll break her heart. Don’t do that.
2. Give her a break
Pregnancy is a body-destroying shit sandwich of wonder and joy, and at the end of the day you should be thankful that you’re not the one who has to carry the kid to term.
Pregnant women are in thrawl to hormones, especially in the first trimester. Anything can piss her off — a song; a woman on TV who looks like that bitch from work who had her kids young and is now free; a three-year-old stain on the rug; your face.
Pregnancy can be like a constant bad hangover without the fun bit to look back on. Double your efforts in terms of washing up, cleaning, cooking and grocery shopping.
3. Curb your excesses
There is a school of thought that expecting fathers ought to pretend that they, too, are pregnant. This dictates that dad-to-be follows mum’s lead in going teetotal, going to bed at 8pm, and slowly inflating a small beach ball inside themselves over a period of months before suddenly yanking it out through their arse. (Note: the third one is less popular.)
For my wife’s first pregnancy I ignored this rule, drinking for three as she ate for two. We’re now expecting a second sprog, and while I’m not really on the wagon, I’ve reigned myself in appreciably and she’s seems much more cheerful.
You can go too hard. A colleague and friend of mine went the full monty here, bedding down early and staring at the ceiling beside his wife, no drinking/seeing friends, any TV he wanted to see after 8pm he’d bring in and watch on a portable player at lunchtime.
I’ve never seen someone more obviously emasculated, nor wear a heavier barrage of workplace slings and arrows for being under the thumb, but his pregnant wife was happy as a clam — a scary one. Decide for yourself if it’s worth it.
4. Indulge her baby tracking
There are a variety of pregnancy tracking sites that allow you to see where your kid is at in terms of growth and development in the womb.
Gestation can be a grind and stressful, and so a — for example — Sunday morning ritual where you lie in bed and read about what sort of fruit your foetus is now the size of can be nice for both of you.
5. Go to every obstetrician’s appointment
It can be lonely for her, sitting in the doctor’s room by herself, and being prodded by internal probes isn’t everyone’s cup of Darjeeling.
Absenteeism here will make her feel abandoned, even if she’s booked it for halftime on grand final day and you’re Ray Warren. Not to mention: miss it, and miss news of a surprise miscarriage, and she’ll be distraught and alone while you’re frantically, uselessly jabbing a lift button across town as I did.
The first time you see that kid’s heartbeat, and each subsequent kick or twitch thereafter, will stay with you forever. BE THERE.
6. In fact, just get involved generally
It’s not that hard. It’s a little like planning a wedding: you have to go along, and know your lines, and you’ll occasionally have to pretend to have an opinion on what colour the nursery curtains/bridesmaid’s dresses should be.
But there’s a big special day coming at the end! And you’ll only probably do it once or twice more in your life. Just like a wedding.
7. Consider a babymoon
Personally I think that the third trimester is precisely the wrong time to jet off to a resort somewhere to drink mocktails and decide between ‘Britney’, ‘Britnee’, ‘Brit’nhey’ and ‘Gavin’. Luckily for me, my partner was of a similar opinion.
“I am fat and hot and uncomfortable and I hate being pregnant,” she said. “I don’t want to spend five grand going to a f*cking resort where you go surfing all day and I can’t even drink a f*cking cocktail. I look like a whale.”
And yet, finder.com.au says that almost a quarter of expecting mothers under 30 look forward to one last romantic trip before the grub arrives. If that’s your thing, lock it in early — having something to look forward to will help distract her from the grinding worst days of her gestation months.
Get through this and then you’ll get to meet an even hungrier beast: fatherhood.
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