Dr Krishna H Kumar, Obstetrician & Gynaecologist Specialist, Consultant for Byond28, and Past President of Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society of Malaysia (OGSM)
Starting a family is a big decision to make and while there are many challenges that await you and your spouse, the rewards can be highly satisfying. It is also important that men take the trouble to learn more about their pregnant spouses’ situation.
It is important that the roles of husband and wife be discussed and agreed upon beforehand. Remember that no detail is too small; after all, your day-to-day life is about to change profoundly!
A pregnant lady will undergo both physical and emotional changes throughout her pregnancy. These changes are largely caused by the hormone Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) aka the pregnancy hormone, as well as other hormones such as Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH).
Besides a growing belly and some weight gain, some changes may be unexpected such as bigger breasts, more lustrous hair or faster growing nails. Some other changes that are less welcomed can include swollen feet, stretch marks and sudden rash of pimples.
It is also common for pregnant ladies to be on emotional roller-coaster rides, not to mention the stress from periods of fatigue, morning sickness and mental fuzziness. Irrational bursts of emotions ranging from euphoria to inexplicable bouts of crying are also common. Spouses should make allowance for this trying and tiring period. Be sure to communicate and share concerns and thoughts with each other.
Don’t neglect your/her emotions
As parents-to-be, it is crucial to prepare yourself emotionally for baby. You will have about nine months from the time you learn about your pregnancy to accept that, your family is about to grow and to prepare for it. Learn as much as you can and remember to work with each other.
Communication is key, so take as much time as you need to sit down and talk through each others’ expectations, worries, fears, etc. This is also the time to revise household chores and responsibilities.
Make your plans early to avoid uncertainty when it is time for delivery. This includes where you will have baby and how you intend to deliver (natural birth, C-section, etc.)
It takes two to tango
Spread the workload – the father-to-be should play a more active role during her pregnancy, i.e. accompanying her during visits to her doctor, shopping together for baby items, helping to prepare your home for baby, etc. It's a good idea to also discuss midnight feedings, laundry, late-night store runs, and overall household tasks that are going to seem to triple once you've got a baby.
Do make an extra effort to help out more at home since her pregnancy will limit what she can do in terms of housework. Be more supportive of your partner – if you smoke, now is a good time to quit. It is also a good idea to go for healthy meals and exercise together during your partner’s pregnancy.
For the pregnant mother, know your limits – pregnancy does not make you an invalid, but you should also be mindful of chores that make you liable to falls or requires crouching. Take the opportunity to delegate household chores to your partner. In addition, take extra care of your health – you now have your unborn child’s health to consider as well. That means no smoking, drinking alcohol, or any physical activities that may affect your pregnancy.
No need to eat for two
The old adage ‘eating for two’ is often misinterpreted. It is not uncommon to see no weight gain during the first trimester, however subsequent months will see an increase in energy requirements in pregnant women. It is true that you will need to increase your intake of vitamins, minerals, fibre, calcium, protein, iron, etc. However, it is not necessary to eat twice the amount you normally take. Your nutrition during pregnancy is important, so make it a point to get an expert’s advice – talk to your doctor or a nutritionist for a clearer understanding of what and how much you should eat.
Take some time out
So make sure to take time to arrange for date nights once in a while to keep things going between each other. Go out for dinner, see a movie, or just take an afternoon away from home to reconnect with each other. Enjoy your pregnancy without the checklists and worries, and spend your days with loved ones to relax and rejuvenate.
An educational collaboration with Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society of Malaysia
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