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Teamwork: Going Through Pregnancy Together

Whether you say, "We're going to have a baby," or, "I'm pregnant," or "Guess what, you're going to be a daddy," once the words are out, life will be different for both of you. There's so much to talk about, think about, plan for, and dream of. All of this is very personal for the two of you, but I do have one word of advice: When you move into this phase of your relationship be sure you make a conscious effort not to leave your spouse behind. It is your body and your pregnancy, but your partner has a major interest in the way things turn out.

It might take a detective to find out exactly how your husband wants to be involved in your pregnancy. Some husbands want to be involved in every detail; others hope you'll handle everything yourself and tell them when it's over. Ask your partner if he wants to come with you on your doctor visits. He might jump at the chance to meet the doctor and get first-hand medical information. Or, he might say no. Maybe he's busy that day or maybe he'd like you to take care of "all the medical stuff." Or maybe he's scared of the medical stuff. Don't assume he really doesn't want to hear about everything that's going on. If he seems uncomfortable with the idea, invite him to go on major visits, when you'll hear the heartbeat or see an ultrasound, for example.

If your husband doesn't come with you to your medical checkups, plan to keep him up-to-date. Even if it appears that he's not listening, tell him everything. And be sure to ask him every single time you go if he'd like to come along. Don't take offense if he adamantly says no over and over again; just keep the door open to the possibility.

Pregnancy Facts

An old piece of folklore says that if a woman with child steps over a rope to which a horse is tied, her pregnancy will be prolonged to the twelfth month.

Share your books on pregnancy and childbirth with your husband. Most of them (like this one) are written for women, but the information in them should be shared with your partner. (There are a few good books out there for "pregnant" men, also.) Leave the books where he'll see them while he's sitting around reading the paper or watching TV. If you know he's sneaking a peek, start underlining the things you'd especially like him to know. His eye will naturally gravitate to these passages. Share the things you're reading. Tell him, "Wow, it says here that men should give their expectant wives kisses at least three times a day!" That'll get his attention.

Beware of seeming secretive—of making your pregnancy "a woman's thing." If your husband hears you talking incessantly about your pregnancy with your mother or your friends, but you have little to say to him, you're unintentionally sending him the message that he's not really part of this experience.

From the second you get the positive test result, you'll be making plans. You'll start thinking about baby furniture, baby clothes, baby names, baby everything! Include your husband in this obsession. Even when he says, "Oh, I leave that stuff up to you," he really means, "If you don't ask my opinions I'll feel left out." This is a great time to get to know each other better (yes, even better than the intimacy that got you into this situation to begin with!). As your body changes, it's a great time to take showers together or sign up for a couple's massage class. This will give your spouse permission to touch and explore areas that he might be afraid are now off-limits to him. The more comfortable he is with the changes you're experiencing, the more fun you'll both have during these exciting months.

Husbands are unpredictable creatures. Without the biological excuse of hormonal changes, they, too, can become emotional and irritable during the pregnancy; some have sympathy pains and nausea, and many gain weight right along with their wives. Whether he admits it or not, your husband is very interested in your pregnancy. This is a team activity.

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth © 2004 by Michele Isaac Gliksman, M.D. and Theresa Foy DiGeronimo. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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