Dad Plays A Huge Role in the 3rd Trimesterby Elizabeth MacDonald
This is not the time to sit back and watch a sporting event. It’s time to get in the game. I know you thought you had a few more months before you’d be called from the bench – maybe to change a diaper, make silly faces, or hold a baby while your partner showered. But you were wrong. It’s game time.
Welcome to the third trimester. I’m going to help you figure out the best way to support your partner through the last few months of pregnancy, labor, and into fatherhood. The first thing you should know is that you are needed. No matter how independent and all-knowing your partner is, she needs you. Together is the best way to enter any situation, especially parenthood.
The Third Trimester for Dads
You want to be on the same page, or at least understand the best you can what she is going through and what she would like for her birth. Talking about your feelings may not be your strong point, but it’s time to start talking. Opening up about your fears and hopes will help her to see that you are an active and invested support partner.
Become Educated about Birth
Read “Husband-Coached Childbirth” and any other childbirth book geared towards you as the partner. You want to skip the “What to Expect” series and others like it because they will not paint the proper picture of pregnancy and birth. You want to know what is happening and how to be there for her. As a Bradley Childbirth instructor, I highly recommend registering for the 12 week course. I know it is a time commitment, but I promise you it is worth it. When John and I took the class over 7 years ago, we didn’t really take it serious – until the second class. Four children later, John recommends the course to every one of his friends. The class is not geared to the mother, but to both of you. I promise you will feel prepared for the end of pregnancy and the labor and birth after completing the course.
She is feeling tired and unmotivated right now, and as her coach, it is your job to help her stay active. Go for long walks together, swim, hit the gym, or take yoga. This is a bonding experience as well as a healthy lifestyle habit.
It is hard to reach for the right foods when you are craving something else entirely. While a midnight run for chocolate chip cookie dough is ok once, try to keep your diet in check so it is easier for her. Include over 70 grams of high quality protein a day and limit or eliminate processed foods. Read more about the Brewers Pregnancy Diet and all of the benefits it poses for her and your baby.
Practice Relaxation Together
The key to a natural labor is relaxation. Practicing emotional, physical, and mental relaxation during the third trimester will help prepare you both for the big day. There are many techniques to try: massage, reading, singing to the baby, breathing rhythms, etc. Try practicing something each night with the goal being to relax her to sleep. Mentally note what techniques she enjoys and throw out the ones that made her laugh. One thing you can do is wake up in the middle of the night and look at her sleep position. This is the time she is in her most relaxed state. Help her try to mimic that position in the evenings when you work on relaxing.
Stress can cause issues with the baby and the pregnancy. Help out however you can so that she feels minimal amounts of it. It you have an argument, work it out. Any internally harbored feelings that aren’t sorted through can disrupt labor and ruin a birth plan. This goes for stress over in-laws, setting up baby items, friendships, fears, finances, work, etc. Speaking of finances, try to take the burden off of her going back to work immediately by taking over bills and money. Try to live off of your earnings and save to allow her the option of extending her maternity leave.
If you have the chance to go grab a beer with friends, or catch a baseball game, do it. Invite your partner of course, but don’t be disappointed if she would rather lay around. Your world is about to change in the best way possible, and your hobbies may slow down until you all get into a good flow at home. On that note, enjoy a few more date nights together too!
Plan Your Time Off
Talk to your place of work about taking time off for the birth and afterward. Ask for flexibility, as you will either leave when labor begins or call in if it begins at home. Talk to your partner about what she would like. I love that my husband stays home for 3-4 days after we have a baby, and then he takes off 1 day a week for the next month or so. This gives me a break in the middle of the week.
Be Involved in the Birth
Don’t stand against the wall and watch. This is your baby being born! My husband has ‘caught’ a few of our babies and said there is nothing in the world like it.
Marinate over your childhood experiences and your parents’ relationship
This is important. Look back on your relationship with your dad and pull from what you learned. What would you change? Also, look at the bond between your parents. How do you want your relationship to be with your partner? It takes effort to make these things last. Revisit these goals every so often to ensure that you constantly working toward the family life you want.