By Dr Michelle LIM, Associate Consultant and Associate Professor Tan Thiam Chye, Visiting Consultant, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital

It takes two to tango, as they say. How true — especially when it comes to pregnancy! Mummy is carrying the baby and she needs all the support and encouragement she can get from daddy. Where to begin, daddies might ask. Here are some simple and practical ways dads can get involved.

#1 Rekindle the Fire

Keeping the fire burning is something daddy can do. While both want to focus on the baby, it’s still important for married couples to spend quality time together, on each other.

Start with the little things like making a point to ask about each other's day. Make time to go on dates regularly to focus on yourselves as a couple. Get your parents, a helper or a friend to babysit if you have children.

Spending time together and talking to each other can reduce tension, stress, jealousy, insecurity and other negative emotions you may face along the way.

Take this time to nurture and strengthen your relationship, and build a strong family foundation before and after your baby's arrival.​

#2 Deal With the Changes

Asian father-to-be spending some quality time with his wife

An event as momentous as this is going to bring about changes to the balance in your relationship. Your wife is growing a new life inside her, so it’s not surprising that she will focus on the baby, which may make you feel a bit disconnected or a little left out of some parts of the process.

This is perfectly normal, but rather than feel left out, encourage your wife to share her feelings — both physical and emotional — with you, so that you can experience every foetus kick, get through morning sickness, and read up on pregnancy-related information as a team.

What’s more, don’t forget to make time for “non-baby” moments. Not everything in your life has to revolve 100 percent around the pregnancy. Plan activities just like you used to, from binging on TV shows to packing a Sunday picnic at East Coast (maybe bring extra surprise portions of whatever your wife is craving right now).

#3 Manage Stress and Anxiety

Asian couple holding hands and supporting each other

That awestruck realisation of “I’m going to be a father” happens at different times to different dads. It might be at the first pregnancy test or scan, as you begin to paint your baby’s room, or even at delivery. It’s a big moment that may come with some stress or worries, which is normal.

You’ll only discover how common it is when you share your feelings, ideally with someone who has been through it. A chat with your father or a friend who has kids might have them saying, “Ah yes, I remember feeling exactly like that!”

Another great way to stop stress from overwhelming you is to leap into action. Each task done or preparation ticked off your long to-do list will help you feel more in control. Figuring out what to pack in your go-bag when labour kicks in or planning baby names for your little one can help build up your confidence!

Additionally, me-time always helps. Preparing to be a good father doesn’t mean obsessing about it every minute of the day. Remember to engage in your usual hobbies, relax, and enjoy the process.

#4 Deal With Finances

Asian couple looking at baby clothes

Sometimes, we are so caught up in the emotional preparation for being a dad that it’s easy to forget to plan the financial side as well. Reach out to those who have done it before, be it your parents or close friends — they will likely be able to give you genuine and realistic advice.

A good place to get basic information is your doctor’s office. Many medical professionals will have materials that outline estimated medical fees.

This is also a great time for you and your wife to do a stock-take of your personal and shared finances. You might find that you have funds that aren’t earning interest and can go into a savings account, ready to accumulate over the years for when your child heads off to university.

Don’t forget that there are professionals out there such as financial consultants, who will be able to lend you their expertise in managing your finances efficiently.

#5 Help Your Wife Manage Her Emotions

Father-to-be giving his wife a back rub

Your wife will be experiencing a heady mix of hormonal changes that will affect her physically and emotionally. Mood swings, fatigue and anxiety about the upcoming labour are normal.

Offering a range of practical advice like reading self-help books or taking vitamins might be a solution, but sometimes the best answer is just to be there with a warm smile and a listening ear — and maybe a foot rub or two.

#6 Share Information With Each Other

Asian couple visiting the doctors together

The information you share doesn’t always have to be practical. A cute baby meme or motherhood-related joke might be just the thing to put a smile on her face.

Many couples find it both useful and fun to keep a shared journal of the pregnancy journey, to monitor changes, vent frustrations (yes, a single page with “Today I’m grumpy!” is perfect) and in years to come, be a treasured keepsake.

#7 Go For Antenatal Classes and Care Visits Together

Asian couple visiting ante-natal class together

It's important to make sure that your wife doesn’t feel like she’s going through the pregnancy alone. Accompany her to antenatal classes. It is a great way to pick up information to prepare for labour. Going as a couple may also help you make new friends who are also undergoing this journey.

#8 Help During Labour and Delivery

Doctor examining a pregnant woman's belly

The big day has arrived! Having read up and gone to classes, you will know roughly what to expect, though every labour is different and special. Here are some tips for you during labour:

  • Don’t shy away. Be close by to provide reassurance to your wife.
  • Discuss the types of pain relief during labour with your wife and with the obstetrician if needed.
  • Physical contact can be a great calming influence. Hold her hand, wipe her face and stroke her hair — whatever she wants.
  • Assign yourself the role of chief hydrator and feed her regular sips of water.
  • Many mothers experience back pain and sore muscles during labour. Ne at hand to give a gentle and soothing massage
  • Changing positions may also help to relieve sore muscles. Your wife may find it difficult to shift on her own. Be there to help her
  • With the stress and disorientation brought on by her labour, your wife may have forgotten the breathing techniques she’s learnt. Remind her and take long slow breaths alongside her,

There you have it. These tips should help you and your wife embark on your most incredible journey together. We’ve saved the most important tip for last: Remember to enjoy every moment!

Visit Parent Hub, for more useful tips and guides for a healthy pregnancy.

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