Most couples have many months to get used to the idea of bringing a baby into the world. However, it often isn't until the ninth month that reality hits home and both the mom- and dad-to-be are overwhelmed by their emotions. The ninth month is exciting, but it can also bring feelings of anxiety. Remember that millions of expectant dads have been where you are now. Whatever you are feeling is completely natural.
It's normal to feel anxious about your ability to cope with fatherhood and provide for your family, particularly during the final few weeks before the birth, says Jerrold Lee Shapiro, licensed clinical psychologist and author of "Becoming a Father." Tackle your anxieties head-on and take advantage of the time you have left to educate yourself. Grab the pregnancy and parenting books your partner is likely to have been engrossed in for the past few months, and start reading. Your anxieties may subside when you have a firmer grasp of the practical aspects of newborn care you will need to attend to. Looking at your finances in detail and budgeting for the year ahead can also help you reduce feelings of anxiety.
The prospect of witnessing labor and delivery may fill you with fear. It's easy to put those thoughts to the back of your mind during the first and second trimesters, but when the ninth month of pregnancy arrives, it all suddenly becomes incredibly real. The baby is going to come out, one way or another, and it may be extremely painful and traumatic for your partner. Even if you don't feel brave, act as if you are. Focus on being a good support to your partner during childbirth, and if it all feels too scary, remember that you don't have to go through the really painful part.
It's very possible that your partner will be more sensitive, emotional, impatient and irritable this month. This is all part of the pregnancy process, says pediatrician William Sears. Don't take it personally if she acts as if she can't be bothered with you. Whatever emotions you are feeling during the ninth month of pregnancy, hers are likely to be off the scale. As for sex, some women do feel more amorous during the third trimester, and may even ask their spouse to make love to try to induce labor (though there's no scientific proof that this works). On the other hand, she may be too tired, touchy or hormonal for any affection whatsoever. Just grin and bear it. You'll have time to rebuild intimacy again soon.
You may notice your partner's bump take a final growth spurt during the ninth month of pregnancy, as this is when the baby puts on fat at a rapid rate. As a result, she may feel increasingly exhausted and uncomfortable as her due date grows closer. You may feel as if you can't do anything to make her feel better, but you can. Sears recommends focusing on little things like encouraging her to rest as often as possible or bringing her snacks and plenty of water. Offer to give her a back or foot rub. Even tying her shoe laces for her will be helpful at this stage, as it may be physically impossible for her to do it.
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