Advice for Dads-to-Be: 9 Tips for the Next 9 Months

If you are the man in a relationship, helping to make the baby might be the easiest thing you'll have to do.

Hopefully you will be excited when your partner tells you she is expecting, but then comes the next nine months — and then the rest of your life. Just like the expectant mother, you are sure to feel a mixture of emotions, but you don't have the changing hormones as an excuse to act a little crazy.

So, how should you deal with the big news? What can you expect in the first, second and third trimesters — and beyond?

In its second edition,"Your Pregnancy for the Father-to-Be: Everything Dads Need to Know About Pregnancy, Childbirth and Getting Ready for a New Baby," Dr. Curtis B. Glade and Judith Schuler give men the low-down on what to expect when they are expecting a baby.

Curtis, who is board-certified by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the father of five grown children, said he wrote "Your Pregnancy Week by Week," about 20 years ago, but felt the male point-of-view had been left out, which is what prompted him and Schuler to write the first edition of this book in 2004.

"I still think women will primarily buy this book," Curtis told in a recent phone interview. "But, hopefully, this will get men more involved in the pregnancy."

Here are some tips Curtis took from the book:

1. Keep a Positive Attitude

One of the most important things an expectant father can do is to be a positive influence on his partner during the pregnancy, Curtis said.

Curtis emphasized that pregnant women are beautiful and their partners should remind them of that.

“Sometimes the women start to feel fat or unattractive and they hear negative comments,” he said. “Maybe tell them they look sexy. But, I think it’s important for a guy not to play into the beached whale comments.”

2. Be a Good Support System

Allow your partner to talk about her feelings during the pregnancy, Curtis said.

“Ask her how she is reacting to this pregnancy. If she wants to cry, let her cry. Cry with her, be a support.”

3. Discuss the Changing Dynamics

Curtis said he hopes this book opens a door for couples to discuss how their family will grow from two people to three.

“Men should take this opportunity to discuss how their relationship will change,” he said.

4. Know About Your Finances

Perhaps the most important part of the book is the chapter titled “The Financial Realities of Parenthood.”

“We’ve actually gotten input from CPAs and there’s a lot of advice on how having a baby will impact your income, debt and how to put aside money for college,” Curtis said.

For example, one of the chapter’s subsections advises couples to keep a record of their expenditures for one month. At the end of the month, examine how much you have spent and how much money you have left over. At this point, you’ll be better able to determine where you can save and how you may be able to get a hold of any debt you have.

The chapter also delves into topics such as child care costs and making a will.

“It might be nice if you read it before you get pregnant,” Curtis said, although he realizes this is not always going to happen. “I learned a lot just in doing this, I wish I had known all this when my kids were younger.”

5. Attend Important Prenatal Visits

“Ask your partner about her prenatal visits,” Curtis said. “Most guys can’t go to all of these visits, but you should be there the first time she hears the baby’s heartbeat, which is around 12 weeks, and for the first ultrasound, which is around 18 to 20 weeks, and then towards the end of pregnancy when planning for labor and delivery.”

Curtis suggested the male partner should make it a point to go to these visits so he can talk to the doctor about having sex during the pregnancy. The woman may be uncomfortable about talking to the doctor, or maybe the couple is having a disagreement about the safety of sexual relations.

“If the man comes along to discuss that, he can hear what the doctor is saying,” Curtis said.

6. Delivery Expectations

Here’s another big one, guys: Ask your partner about what she expects from you in the delivery room. Does she want you to cut the umbilical cord? Do you even want to cut the cord? Does the delivery process and thought of blood make you squeamish? Do you mind if her family is in the delivery room? She might want you to take pictures or videos, so these are issues that definitely need to be discussed, Curtis said.

7. Get the House Ready

One thing the man can do to take something off of the woman’s plate is getting the house (or apartment) ready for when the baby comes home.

“This includes baby-proofing, or addressing any pet issues,” Curtis said.

8. Get In Sync

Pregnant women often need to alter their diet and exercise habits, Curtis said, so her male partner may want to think about altering his as well. For example, if the woman is going to eat six small meals a day, perhaps the man might do the same. Or, if she is going to start a walking routine, consider going along with her.

“Those habits can carry on after the pregnancy and it’ll mean something,” Curtis said.

9. Don't Stop Helping — Ever!

Don’t stop asking questions – mainly, 'What can I do to help?' – after the baby is born, Curtis advised.

“I have a son whose wife had a baby about five weeks ago,” Curtis said. “But, he’s changing as many diapers as she does. Even though she’s breastfeeding, he will get up and bring the baby to her instead of rolling over and going back to sleep."

Curtis said it's the little things that count.

"When my first child was born, that’s when I learned how to do laundry," Curtis said. "Guys are willing to do more than you think — but they need a clue!”