What do I do now that my wife is pregnant?

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Answered by: Camille, An Expert in the Dads and Pregnancy Category
Congratulations! You're going to be a dad!

Whether this is a planned pregnancy or a surprise, your first child or your fifth, once the initial surprise has passed, you might be left thinking...what now?

The short answer is: LOTS! Pregnancy and childbirth are exciting, but that doesn't mean they're easy or fun all the time. Now that your partner or wife is pregnant, you'll need to do a little research of your own. But don't sweat it - here are some insider tips that will put you ahead of the game compared to most new dads!

1. The Numbers

You've always heard that pregnancy lasts for nine months, and while that's roughly true, the more accurate way to measure pregnancy is by weeks. Get used to hearing things like "I'm 17 weeks along" and "I'm finally 36 weeks today!" A full-term pregnancy lasts 40 weeks - that's how the due date is typically calculated - although many babies are born before that date or even a week or more overdue.

Here are some more numerical tidbits:

• Pregnancy is divided into three trimesters: 0-13 weeks, 14-27 weeks, and 28-40 weeks (the exact cutoffs may vary depending on your doctor).

• In a typical low-risk pregnancy, the baby's gender can be determined at the 20-week sonogram (sometimes sooner).

• Pregnant women who start out at a normal body weight are advised to gain between 25 and 35 pounds throughout their pregnancy.

2. The Nitty Gritty

It's true; pregnancy can be a rough time for expecting moms - getting used to their changing bodies, dealing with mood swings, feeling overly tired, and handling a host of other changes would be difficult for anyone. And that means it can be rough for expecting dads, too. But if you keep these things in mind, you'll fare a lot better than you would going into it blind!

• When your partner or wife is pregnant, there's one thing you can count on: hormones. Lots of hormones. So don't take it personally when she suddenly becomes upset over nothing. And don't always attempt to pinpoint the exact cause of her bad mood; there might not be one! Instead, try to be as kind and sympathetic as you can.

• Pregnancy brings many different "symptoms" for different women. Your partner might have headaches, heartburn, nausea/morning sickness, indigestion, gas, swelling, insomnia, nasal congestion, and more. Sounds fun, doesn't it?

• A pregnant mom will gain weight. Don't criticize her weight gain, even if it seems to be happening too quickly. Her doctor will address any legitimate weight-related concerns. Your job is to be her companion in living a healthy lifestyle - and to aid in obtaining the occasional random craving.

3. What You Can Do

If you're reading this, chances are you're going to be an involved and invested father. Good for you! So what can you do NOW to get involved in your child's life?

• -Be aware. Know your partner's current stage of pregnancy - you don't have to memorize that she's 25 weeks and 6 days, but at least know a ballpark estimate. Keep yourself informed of what's going on with the baby.

• Be kind. Now is the time to practice a little extra forgiveness and compassion - and yes, that includes giving back rubs whenever they're requested!

• Be excited. If your partner or wife is okay with it, put your hand on her belly to feel the baby move (in the second and third trimesters). Verbally express your excitement to meet this new baby!

You can probably tell that this is just the tip of the iceberg, but don't get overwhelmed. With this information under your belt, you're well on your way to being the most supportive and helpful new dad your partner could ask for!

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