The first prenatal visit is an exciting – and often nerve-wracking – time in a woman’s life. Should an expectant mother head to that first appointment alone, or should dad-to-be accompany her?
It’s a question many prospective mothers may ask themselves – just how many prenatal appointments should I bring my partner to? Is the first appointment the most important?
What The Experts Say
Ultimately, it is up to the expecting couple to decide if dad should attend any prenatal appointments or not. However, doctors do recommend that fathers-to-be show up for at least a few sessions.
Kathryn Kohler, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Laramie, WY, says she loves it when a father comes to prenatal visits, and believes having him there early on is definitely a good idea.
“It makes the pregnancy more real for him, and gives him an understanding of what his mate is going through,” she tells Parenting.com. “When parents-to-be hear the baby’s heart beating for the first time, a look passes between them that tells me this is the most marvelous sound they’ve ever heard.”
Daniel Kalb, M.D., a family physician at Baton Rouge General Medical Center, also encourages men to attend.
“I usually advise one visit during the first trimester, one in the second and more often as the pregnancy advances to term,” he says.
A typical pregnancy will have 10 to 15 prenatal checkups. The first appointment would be especially beneficial for a dad-to-be to attend since it allows easier charting of family history. There is also the huge benefit of dad and mom hearing baby’s heartbeat for the first time and possibly seeing the first ultrasound, together.
Speaking for myself and my husband, we were thrilled to share that special moment together when I was about eight weeks along in my pregnancy. Seeing our first ultrasound, hearing our little girl’s heart beating and receiving that first priceless picture – it was all such an emotional and powerful experience.
Mens’ Involvement In The Pregnancy Process
Up until the end of the 19th century, birth was considered to be an event solely for females that took place at home and often with an experienced midwife present. As time went on however, women began to choose physicians more frequently than midwives, and physicians would often prohibit relatives and friends from being part of the birthing process.
Many men may have felt cut off as they were sent to nervously await the arrivals of their children in all-male waiting rooms. It was during the late 1940s that they started to demand their rights to be part of the birthing process.
In the 1950s and 1960s fathers began entering labor rooms, and, in the 1970s they were finally permitted into delivery rooms. Today, many men are happily and willingly present during the births of their children, eager to help calm and coach their wives through the process.
Aside from being present at prenatal appointments and in the delivery room, there are other ways an expectant father can feel more involved with a pregnancy. Here are some ideas.
Five Ways To Include Dads-To-Be in the Pregnancy Experience
1. Make Sure To Make Your Announcement Together
This should be a given, but when making your announcement to other people, whether in person or on social media, make sure the dad-to-be is in on the fun and mentioned too. Think of cute ways to announce the new arrival in your lives, together. Check out these cute pregnancy announcement ideas.
2. Read Together As A Family
My husband and I did this early on in my pregnancy and I have some cute photos and sweet memories of him reading to my growing belly. Reading books to our daughter together was such a great bonding time. Now our daughter is a little bookworm, so I like to think those special moments contributed!
3. Create Nursery and Baby Registry Together
Let your man help with the nursery! Ask for his input or if he has any special touches/ideas he would like to add. When it comes to the baby registry, talk about and decide on the bigger purchases together, such as a crib or stroller.
For the smaller items, if you each want different things for baby, that’s OK. Come to a compromise about what to put on the list. Dad will feel like you two are a team, you care about his opinion and you’re not just trying to control everything.
4. Take A Childbirth Preparation Class
Taking a childbirth preparation class can be very beneficial. My husband and I took a day-long class together and I think it was definitely worth it. Not only did we learn about what to expect during labor and tips for caring for a newborn, we also learned how he could help calm me during labor with breathing and massage techniques.
He also learned technical information about the actual labor process itself (the men were even asked to attempt to make a cervix out of modeling clay!) as well as the changes my body was going through.
5. Give Him A Dad-To-Be Survival Kit
Gifts for new moms are quite popular, but what about gifts for dads? Make a new dad feel special with a dad-to-be survival kit. Give him “What To Expect When Your Wife Is Expanding” and positive books about fatherhood. There are also some fun, ready-made kits available, such as this new dad tactical bag.
Enjoy the experience and have fun!