The Guys guide to A Woman’s perspective on pregnancy, giving birth and kids
Your pregnant partner
This is a time when a woman’s hormones are raging, her moods go up and down and half the time she doesn’t even realise it! Those 2 am prods to wake you up as she needs chocolate now and needs you to drive her to the 24 hour MacDonald’s to get it, are out of her control! Here I am going to explain to you the woman’s perspective on being pregnant and my hubby will try to explain to us ladies on how guys feel.
Finding out you are pregnant creates mixed emotions. There are those of excitement that there is a little person growing in you and then the feeling that you are responsible for this little one. Life for a woman changes the minute she sees those 2 little blue lines on a pregnancy test or sees the ultrasound.
We have to watch what we eat as some foods can be harmful to the baby and this can be quite frustrating i.e. if you used to eat your steak blue and now have to eat it well done. For some women this can be quite constricting as it takes away the option of choosing for yourself. It’s not just about you anymore but eating for two. It can also create a mild panic because as the pregnancy progresses and we start to pick up weight, we start to feel unattractive and unhappy with our once thinner bodies.
As the pregnancy progresses, we might get cravings for things that normally we would not have wanted. The easiest way to describe a craving, for me, would be that feeling when you are playing a Wii, PlayStation or a computer game and you are on that last level and can’t get something right to pass it. In some levels you can figure out what it is quickly and move alone but this specific level will keep you up at night, be in your dreams and bug you until you have Googled the cheats for the game or played it so many times that it pops into your head and you just do it. A pregnancy craving is just like that. Some cravings she know exactly what they are i.e. milk at 2am and others are like that last level. She it will bother her and she may go through the all the food in the fridge to get to pinpoint what it is but she will eventually! This is also where your patience will come into play. You can either pick a fight about the fact that you have to drive to MacDonald’s for a McFlurry at 01:00 that will end up making either one of you feel bad especially when the craving is really bad or you can both go and get it and treat it as an outing/adventure. Denying her will only make it worse!
It is important that you are also be aware that there are some cravings that are a sign that the mum should be checked out as there could be a shortage of a vitamin or a mineral or something more serious. If she starts to want to crave the following it is called Pica and you should call your Gynae, GP or Midwife asap as it is very dangerous to both mom and baby:
Ash, coal, petrol, chalk, gas or soil.
Can you remember that time that you went drinking and got so pickled that you started throwing up? Well some woman really suffer with Morning Sickness and the worst is that it doesn’t only have to last the morning or for a month or two!!! Some women get it for their entire pregnancy!! Some foods may also make her nauseous like her favourite old chicken burger and often at inconvenient times. It can be quite embarrassing for her so try to be supportive about it. Nausea, in some parts is her body’s way of telling her not to eat something because it does not want it i.e. I could not stomach the smell or taste of chicken for the whole of my pregnancy but after giving birth, I am can eat it again! Just keep an eye on her so that she doesn’t dehydrate and if it gets very bad, take her to your gynae or gp just to make sure that she and the baby are ok.
There are some products that you can recommend that she uses to help with the nauseous and the fact that you will know this will also make her feel that you are taking an interest. A good tip is for her to have crackers like Salti Cracks or Marie Biscuits next to the bed and before she lifts her head from the pillow, to have one to help settle her stomach before she gets out of bed. Another trick is to cut fresh ginger into thin slices and put it into a cup with boiling water and leave it to fuse for a few minutes. When it has cooled down a bit, take the ginger out and she will be able to drink it. Purity has also brought out Preggi Pops for Pregnant Women and they are also ginger bases but in the form of a lollipop. They are easy and convenient to carry in her bag! If she likes them, buy a box and keep them in your car, just to in case you travel with it or her supply runs out, then you have them on standby! The most important thing you can do is to be supportive, rub her back when it needs to be, make her a cup of tea and listen to her moans and groans if she has any!
With a lot of guys, during pregnancy this can be a touchy subject. You may be one of the guys that get some during pregnancy but you could also not have any for the entire pregnancy.
“Why does it change” you ask, it is of course the activity that got you here in the first place? Let me explain.
In the first trimester of pregnancy, a lot of women do not want to have sex as they feel nauseous, sick and their bodies are adapting to being pregnant. Often they will sleep a lot! Most woman in the second trimester seem get their libidos back and this can be the time when woman are the most sexually active. In the third trimester, it can go back to being like the first trimester and decrease, stay at the same level or just be non-existent. Some women have a high libido for their entire pregnancy and will want to have sex thought out her pregnancy. You will not be able to hurt the baby while it is in the womb as the baby is protected by the amniotic sac (a thin-walled bag that holds the fetus and surrounding fluid) and the strong muscles of the uterus. An important thing to remember that a woman cannot lie on her back during pregnancy a it can hamper the blood flow to the baby!
Her belly may come in the way so you will have to become creative with the sexual positions that you try! Be a bit creative and dry different things that feel comfortable for you both!
The lack of sex can be quite frustrating for a guy and the most important thing to do is to explain to her in a rational manner how you are feeling. Do not make her feel bad if she does not want to have sex as this will create a negative connotation with it in her mind. There are other ways that she can help you and it is best to discuss this with her to stop any resentment from forming.
When women are pregnant, we start to get this feeling whereby the house has to be perfect for our new little one. This is referred to as Nesting and you will notice that in the last few months of pregnancy, we will try our utmost to get the nursery or baby’s room painted and decorated as soon as possible. Often we are also indecisive about how it should look as there are so many examples! During this time, to save the peace and to give yourself some time, try to do the baby’s room as soon as possible and make good comments on the progress that is being made. She can’t control this feeling any more than she can control the sun!
Remeber that you don’t have to spend a fortune to make the room beautiful and to suit your needs! Google some ideas, look at books in book shops as well at libraries! Magazines also have many buidling or paint ideas!
Often a pregnant woman’s feet will swell up due to water retention and the fact that the ligaments in her body relax to be able to carry the extra weight. This can often be referred to as Cankals but unless your partner has a sense of humour, I would not mention this to them. It is quite awful for the woman as the shoes that once fit her often don’t anymore and it can make her a bit blue. It can swell especially during summer due to the heat. Best thing that you can do is give her a daily foot massage and to try to make her as comfortable as possible. Also keep an eye on it as it can be a sign of Edema, which is a collection of excess fluids in the tissues and is best to be checked by a doctor.
If your partner is someone that hardly ever got sick before being pregnant but while being pregnant seems to catch every cold that is out there, bear in mind that her immune system is being suppressed in order for the baby to grow and the body not to see it as a foreign entity and to prevent it attacking and maybe killing the baby. Remember that it is very frustrating for her so be supportive and bring her a cup of tea and a biscuit in bed, she will be very grateful for it!
The best you can do for a pregnant woman
Here are some important things that you can do for a pregnant woman and in doing them, you will save yourself the lot of trouble as well as make her feel special:
- Read up as much as you can about pregnancy and babies and chat to her about what you have read. This will show her that you are taking an interest in the baby as well as it can help to bring you closer as you will have more to talk about and discover
- be supportive and listen to her moans and groans
- pay attention to what she is eating and drinking but don’t try to bully her if she doesn’t want to eat a specific thing, she will in her own time
- run her a nice big lukewarm bubble bath, fill the room with candles and give her some time to relax. If she likes to shower more, buy her some soothing shower gel, wrap it up prettily and give it to her before she gets into the shower
- give her lots of compliments and say she looks amazing even when she doesn’t. Send her little notes, emails, bbm’s or sms’s to say that you love her and to tell her how much she means to you. Pregnancy can create a lot of insecurities like “Does he still find me sexy?” and the more you encourage and be there for her, the better she will feel.
- After a few months of being inside, all the emotions that the mother feels, the baby will be able to feel as well so it is best not to stress them out
- When in doubt, say “Yes dear” and don’t argue!
This is like flipping a coin. On one side you feel excited, can’t wait to meet the little person inside of you and then on the other side it can be quite a scary and daunting experience for a woman. Please don’t miss understand me, it is also scary for a guy but the thought of something the size of a watermelon coming out of something the size of a pin head can create a little bit of stress!
There are two main ways of giving birth, namely Natural and Caesarean and it is important that you discuss which option would suit you best. If you choose Natural, it is also important that you read up about Caesareans so that should she need to go for an Emergency Caesarean for any reason, you will be prepared. A lot of hospitals do walking tours of the Maternity Ward and it would be good for you to go and do it. If she has any fear, it can help to ease it a bit as she will know what to expect and the same for you!
Important things to remember:
- Make sure you know where the baby bag is and the quickest route to your hospital of choice.
- Familiarise yourself with the procedures of both Natural and Caesarean
- She is going to be very scared and is going to need you to support her. It is ok to show that you are scared, we don’t need Hercules and you are a person as well. Try to be as encouraging as you can and try to keep her calm, especially during contractions.
- Unless you have to go to the toilet, get food or she tells you to, do not leave her alone especially when it is your first child and you are unsure of what to expect. She will need that comfort that you are nearby and even if it is to just rub her back, to know that you are there.
- When taking photographs during the actual birth, remember to push the button to take the photos! Many people have not gone any photos from the birth as they forgot this important step!
- Some woman when they see their babies for the first time, do not have that surge of emotion that you see in movies whereby they cry and sob into the babies hair and won’t let them go. Some of us are in shock and when seeing the baby, it can make it more real and it also depends on the surge of hormones in our bodies. We as they say “Need a moment” and this does not mean that there is anything wrong with her so be patient and give her time If after a few hours or days the mom wants nothing to do with the baby, it is important to call your gynae or midwife as she may be suffering from Ante-Natal Depression. This can be quite serious so keep an eye out for it.
- Do not allow anyone into the hospital room once both mom and baby are there, give them some time to breath and it is also a bonding time for your new little family. Seeing too many people straight after the birth can cause confusion for both you and the mom and can be overbearing.
- If your partner has had a Caesarean, try to stay the first night to help her with feeding and changing the baby’s nappy as the pain can be quite intense when she moves. Try to help her when she is at home with as much as possible as it will be difficult for her to move and take longer to get around
- Talk about how you are feeling. If you are freaked out, say so because by not saying anything but bottling things inside, the day that you explode will probably cause more pain than you intend
- Enjoy it, you are a Daddy now!
6am wake ups, changing dirty nappies, baby puke on your clothes, sticky jam finger marks on your windows, toys in many of the rooms in your house and often, a lack of sleep. This will describe many households that have kids. But it is not all bad, there are many wonderful memories and things that you will discover as the years go by.
You might notice that your partner seems to be constantly running around and trying to do as many things as possible. This can cause a lot of stress for her as she might feel that she never has enough time for everything. By helping her with the kids and around the house you will notice that there will be a positive balance in your relationship. If she constantly has to do everything, she will start to resent you and may become a bit frosty towards you and if this is not discussed, can lead to bigger problems.
Something that I have noticed seems to crop up with all woman and men don’t really seem to understand is that once you have children, your partner is not just your partner anymore. She is a mom, a wife, a cleaner, a cook, a driver, a lover, an entertainer, a problem solver, has to be responsible for another being and be on queue to take away and sooth any physical and emotional pain that might be felt. There is only one of her and she will often put her own emotions and desires on a backburner so that she can take care of everyone else. Some moms find it difficult to balance all the aspects that she has to become and the best you can do is to support her and to encourage her to take time out for herself. If you don’t understand the above concept, the easiest way to learn is to do arrange with your wife to do everything that she would normally do in her role as mom. Offer to take the kids for the day and let her have some time to herself. You will notice that they more you help her and share the load, the more you will grow with not only building a relationship with your partner but also with that of your child.
Another thing that men also seem to forget is that at a braai, a mom would also like to enjoy herself and not have to run after the kids the whole time. Moms also want to sit back with a glass of wine and relax for a few moments. To show her that you understand, take some time to relieve her and look after the children for a little while. She will really appreciate it and you might get a few more kisses than normal!
Remember that you are a wonderful dad and it is ok to feel confused or have mixed emotions but also remember to talk about how you feel. It is ok to want “Daddy Time” with the boys but talk to your partner about when it is best suited. You will see that a woman is very understanding when she knows what her partner is feeling rather than not knowing at all!