Being an expectant mother is easy to spot, after all – you are the one with the tell-tale baby bump and the ever-growing hips (among other body parts). But picking out expectant dads is a little tougher.
This year alone, there will be 4.2 million expectant fathers, and according to a new book by Doctors Michel Hakakha MD and Ari Brown MD, they are much more involved than ever before. So much so, that they’ve come up with a name – the Couvade Syndrome.
Couvade syndrome is also called sympathetic pregnancy. It is the condition in which a husband or partner of an expectant mother experiences some of the same symptoms and behaviors as the mom-to-be, such as weight gain, nausea, insomnia, and even (in extreme cases) labor pains.
In their book “Expecting 411”, Drs. Hakakha and Brown offer advice to hundreds of the most pressing questions about pregnancy and birth. While the majority of the book is geared to expectant mothers, they do offer these 7 tips especially for expectant dads:
Mind your own baby bump. Are you eating for two right along with your wife? Newsflash: Your wife will lose a lot of her weight automatically when she has the baby--you won't! Studies show expectant fathers often gain extra pounds of "sympathy weight" during their wife's pregnancy.
Take one for the team. Get your TdaP shot as well as seasonal flu and H1N1 vaccines to protect your precious cargo, who will soon be joining the family. Seventy percent of babies who get whooping cough are infected by immediate family members like you.
Baby yourself. Have you even been to the doc lately? Studies show many men ages 25-45 don't even have a primary care physician. Go get a checkup. Find out how you're doing, healthwise. Your baby needs a healthy dad who will grow old and wise.
Mind your moods. Research shows that partners are not only at risk for gaining sympathy weight, but may also suffer postpartum depression. Seek help if you feel overwhelming feelings of sadness, lack of desire to be around family and friends, severe fatigue, or trouble eating or sleeping after delivery.
Prepare for a dry spell. Hate to say it, but there can't be intercourse 6 weeks after the baby is born. The good news? Barring any health issues, you and your wife can have sex up until the last day before she delivers. And, no, sex does not trigger labor--that's an old wives' tale.
Engage in baby talk. We now know that babies recognize their parents' voices inside the womb. So go ahead--sing Hank Williams songs, recite your favorite poem, or just shoot the breeze with your unborn baby. When your baby is born, she or he will already know you.
Dads can nest too. Expectant dads are allowed to nest too--and often feel an overwhelming need during their wife's pregnancy to rev up the power tools. Feel free to paint, spackle, drill, and build to your heart's content--but avoid toxic materials and fumes in the baby's room.
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Expecting 411: Clear Answers & Smart Advice for Your Pregnancy can be purchased at www.expecting411.com for $14.95. It is the only pregnancy guide written by two MDs who are also moms, and part of the bestselling book series that includes Baby 411 and Toddler 411
(This article was written from materials adapted from "Expecting 411", used with the authors’ permission.)