Men Today

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How men can pitch in during pregnancy

The days of yore when men took a hands-off approach to pregnancy are largely a thing of the past. Men now play a more active role during their partners' pregnancies, helping in a variety of ways along the way to the day when the bundles of joy finally arrive.

Though veteran fathers might know what to expect and how to help, a first-time father may know little about how he can help make the next several months of his partner's life as easy as possible. The following are a handful of tips for expectant fathers who want to take an active role in their partners' pregnancies.

* Accompany your partner on prenatal visits. Pregnant women will make several prenatal visits to their doctors along the way to becoming a mother. Accompanying your partner on these visits will illustrate your own excitement about becoming a parent, and you might want to be there for certain milestones, such as the doctor showing you the results of an ultrasound where you may or may not decide to learn the sex of your child. Your presence on such visits will be appreciated as the pregnancy progresses and your partner finds it more and more difficult to get around on her own.

* Do your homework. Women often read up about pregnancy so they can understand what is going on with their bodies while they are with child. Do your own homework so you can better understand what your partner is going through. Gaining a better understanding of the physical and emotional changes taking place might help make you a more attentive and patient partner, which will make the pregnancy easier on everyone involved.

* Attend classes with your partner. If your partner wants to attend classes to learn about childbirth, accompany her to such classes as much as possible. Similar to accompanying your partner to the doctor's office for prenatal visits, going to class with her will make the pregnancy seem like more of a team effort, which can make things less stressful on her.

* Clean the house. Pregnant women should avoid exposure to household cleaning products, including cleansers and insecticides. Such products can harm your unborn child, so take over the cleaning responsibilities throughout the pregnancy.

* Reduce your partner's stress. Stress is potentially harmful for anyone, and pregnant women are no exception. Stress will only make the pregnancy more difficult and might prove harmful to mother and child alike. Take steps to make your partner's life less stressful during her pregnancy, encouraging her to participate in relaxation exercises and taking on more of the household responsibilities as her pregnancy progresses and her mobility becomes more and more restricted.

* Alter your diet along with your partner. Your partner will likely be on a restricted diet during her pregnancy. Pregnant women, for example, should never consume any alcohol. In addition, the American Pregnancy Association advises that women should avoid fish with mercury, smoked seafood, deli meat, soft cheeses, raw eggs, and raw meat during a pregnancy. Make these sacrifices easier by avoiding these foods and beverages around your partner or cutting them from your diet entirely during the pregnancy. This furthers the notion that your partner isn't going it alone during the pregnancy, which can make it that much easier for both of you.

Pregnancy can be an exciting and difficult time for expecting parents. Men can make things easier on their partners by taking steps to reassure them that the pregnancy is a team effort.