Fathers: The Third Trimester
by Robert G. Rodriguez
almost there! You and your partner are in the last trimester. In
a mere 90 days you'll be a father, a "family man". The
wonderful experience of being able to join your partner and new
baby has nearly arrived. Your partner's body is making the final
adjustments in getting ready for labor and your baby is beginning
to mature in preparation for birth. You may have finally adjusted
to "being pregnant" when a new flood of feelings arise
within you as you get ready to welcome your baby to the world.
men at this stage begin to wonder what they will be like as fathers.
Whether you'll be able to fulfill the expectations of this new role
as parent? Reflecting on your father as a model may not fit how
you see yourself as a dad. Fatherhood from generation to generation
has changed significantly. The social and societal expectations
for fathers, even twenty years ago, are quite different than today.
Fathering and parenthood are not fixed roles. Dads' roles are influenced
by the society in the time when they live and the needs of each
thinking about your own father and other significant fathers in
your life is a good place to start. What did you most enjoy about
your father? What will you do different? Do you see any of your
friends or family members who you feel are fathering the way you
would like to? This last trimester is a good time to re-examine
your relationship with work and think about how you may want to
make adjustments before, for and after the birth. Remember to allow
yourself flexibility in your planning. No one can anticipate exactly
what it will be like when their baby arrives, and the best made
plans often need to adjust to circumstances and feelings you may
not be aware of before the baby has arrived.
you've been participating in a prenatal class, you've acquired a
good foundation for the immediate future with your partner and baby.
More important, if you've been part of a prenatal class with your
partner you can begin prepare as a couple to share the birth experience.
You should begin discussing the role you'll take during birth with
your partner. What are your partner's expectations? If you travel
in your work, where will you be when the delivery is likely to occur?
Can you make suitable arrangements to be close at hand? Plan with
your partner the things you may need at the time of delivery and
when she brings the baby home.
physical changes your partner has been going through will intensify
during the last trimester. These physical changes will also have
an effect on her psychological state. As men, there is no parallel
experience as to the body hormonal changes a woman undergoes during
pregnancy. The enthusiasm she may have experienced in the second
trimester as the pregnancy was beginning "to show" does
not guarantee she will feel the same way in the last month. You
may also be feeling tense and anxious. Concerns about the health
of the baby and your partner become more troublesome. Continue to
accompany your partner for prenatal visits and ask any questions
regarding this stage you may have.
may feel some distress at your partners needs for increased help
during the final month. No matter how much a couple can do in preparing
for the birth of their baby, or getting their home ready for its
arrival; there are always a few things that feel incomplete. Be
patient with each other. Remember to keep the channels of communication
open, neither of you can know exactly what birth and parenthood
will be like.
men during this last stage report symptoms stage similar to those
of their partner such as weight gain, lethargy, and other somatic
type complaints. This is called "couvade sydrome" and
is frequently seen in expectant fathers. Just remain patient because
although the weight may not immediately disappear after the delivery,
many of the other somatic issues will likely resolve themselves.
you find yourself overwhelmed between working and getting ready
for the baby, it would be wise to talk about this with your partner.
It is also a good time to talk to other dads who have gone through
what you are experiencing. Friends, family, the dads in your prenatal
class, other dads whom you may work with can all be sources of support
Here are here are a few practical tips that pregnant dads have shared
with me about the third trimester of pregnancy.
For your wife/partner:
Get things physically ready for the baby. Begin getting things for
your baby, such as baby furniture, getting the house ready, preparing
extra meals. Do these things together if possible.
* Try and maintain a routine to your relationship. Going to the
movies may be the most comfortable experience for your partner,
so plan on renting a good film once a week. You might want to go
light on the action flicks.
* Discuss your partner's needs and ask what you can do to make things
easier for her at the birth.
* Take a tour with your partner of where your baby will be born.
Check and see how flexible you work will be both about time off
for birth and after.
* Ask at least two new fathers about their experience of their baby's
* Find an exercise program that you feel you could continue after
the baby is born.
Rodriquez, Ph.D., M.P.H., is a psychologist and research expert
with over 30 years experience working with expectant couples. Dr.
Rodriguez is available for conference speaking engagements, seminar
presentations, and training sessions, including Continuing Educations
Unit programs. For more information, visit: www.DrDad.info