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Important Things a Father Can Do to Help the Mother of His Unborn Child

by Dr. Sonya Lott

As a father you have an important role in your partner’s pregnancy. Your emotional support can decrease her experience of stress. According to a study published in the April 2013 issue of “Clinical Psychological Science,” pregnant mothers who perceived their male partners to be loving and emotionally supportive were less likely to experience depression during pregnancy and afterwards. Helping your partner in meeting her physical needs will also have a positive impact on your unborn child’s development.

Emotional Well-Being

Her emotions may have a direct impact on your unborn child’s development. A review of the research on anxiety during pregnancy, published in the July 2012 issue of “Current Opinion in Psychiatry,” reported that high levels of pregnancy related anxiety are associated with premature birth. The review also reported evidence that pregnancy related anxiety can have an impact on many aspects of development from infancy to adulthood. If she has concerns about the baby’s development, changes in her body, diagnostic tests, or any other aspect of the pregnancy, it is important to encourage her to talk with you about these concerns.

Prenatal Care

Regular prenatal care is crucial to a health pregnancy. You can help her choose the obstetrician or a certified nurse midwife. Accompany her to the prenatal visits as often as possible. She will appreciate you driving on those days that she is fatigued. Being with her will ease her concerns about diagnostic tests provide an opportunity to share in the excitement of experiences like hearing your baby’s heartbeat.

Healthy Lifestyle Factors

Your partner will be taking prenatal vitamins, but she will also need to have a well-balanced diet. Share the responsibility for preparing healthy meals. Moderate exercise such as yoga, swimming and walking during pregnancy is usually encouraged. Try exercising with her. It is a great way to be supportive, build intimacy and reduce stress levels for both of you. Adequate sleep is also important during pregnancy. As the pregnancy progresses, comfortable sleeping positions become a challenge. You can help her rest more comfortably at night by making sure the bedroom is a quiet and peaceful space.

Preparing for Birth

Most women have some anxiety about the birth process. Taking a childbirth class together will give you the skills that you will need to be supportive at one of the times she will need you most. You will also learn about caring for your newborn. These additional skills will allow you to continue supporting your partner and begin providing the best possible care for your newborn.

About the Author

Sonya Lott, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in Pennsylvania, who offers online and in office counseling to individuals struggling with grief, loss or a life transition. She also facilitates mental health workshops for educational, professional, and community groups and maintains a blog on her website www.drsonyalott.com.

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