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A Dad's Guide to Pregnancy: Month
11 Big Fat Pregnancy Myths
Eating for Two
Genes From Mom & Dad Tied to Preeclampsia
Many Teen Boys View Pregnancy as Inevitable
Parental Drinking Stunts Brain Growth in Alcoholic Kids
The Preemie Population
It's Hip to be Pregnant
Hormone Changes During Pregnancy....In Men
A Man Took A Pregnancy Test As A Joke And Ended Up Finding Out Something Awful
Fake Crisis Pregnancy Clinics
Related Issues: Talking With Kids About Tough Issues, Teen Pregnancy, Teen Sex & Pregnancy, Reproduction, Reproductive Health, Condoms
11 Big Fat Pregnancy Myths
Pregnancy lasts nine months. "It's actually more like nine-and-a-half months," said Dr. Joanne Stone, an obstetrician at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City and co-author of "Pregnancy for Dummies" (For Dummies, 2009).
To make matters more confusing, doctors typically measure pregnancy's length as 40 weeks, counting from a woman's last period. Women usually become fertile 10 to 16 days after their period starts, so from this method of counting, the first two weeks of every pregnancy take place before a woman has conceived.
When you have sex determines the gender of your baby. Dads-to-be have two types of sperm: those that make baby boys and those that make baby girls. Some say that the body of a mom-to-be is more hospitable to boy sperm or girl sperm during certain times in her cycle. And so, the theories go, when a couple has sex can determine whether they conceive a Junior or a Bubette.
While a few small studies have supported timing methods for sex selection, larger, more recent studies have failed to find any correlation between the day within the fertile window a couple has sex and the gender of the baby, explained Dr. Rachel Vreeman, co-author of "Don't Swallow Your Gum! Myths, Half-Truths, and Outright Lies about Your Body and Health" (St. Martin's Griffin, 2009).
The only way you can reliably choose the sex of your baby is with the help of technology.
You can predict the sex of your baby without technology. Time to break it to grandma: Basketball-shaped bellies do not forecast boys. In a study of 104 women, published in the journal Birth in 1999, no correlations were found between a pregnant belly's size or shape and the baby's gender.
Similarly, predictions using the Chinese lunar calendar, the fetal heart rate and the Drano test (where the woman's urine is mixed with the de-clogging liquid and the resulting color allegedly reveals the baby's gender) were examined by physicians in Vancouver in 1999. None of them were reliable.
Neither is women's intuition dependably accurate, according to a 1996 article in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine. Of 110 women who professed having a strong sense of the baby's gender, roughly half were right the same number expected to be right if they were just guessing.
In all, scientists have found most folklore-based methods of predicting a baby's sex have the same odds as flipping a coin. "And 50/50 odds are not that bad," Vreeman said.
There may be a case for the predictive value of extreme morning sickness. Excessive, unrelenting morning sickness also known as hyperemesis gravidarum is slightly more correlated with having girls, Vreeman said.
Twins skip a generation. Fraternal twins do run in families, due to a gene that can make a woman more likely to release multiple eggs during ovulation. But the hyper-ovulation gene doesn't leapfrog over certain generations. It is passed on from parent to child just like all genes are.
Evidence shows that identical twins, however, occur at random, rather than running in families. If there are many sets of carbon-copies in your family line, "it is probably just a coincidence," Vreeman told MyHealthNewsDaily.
Breastfeeding makes your breasts sag. While infants certainly drain a lactating breast, their hunger doesn't cause long-term changes in breast firmness. Scientists have confirmed breastfeeding does not contribute to breast ptosis (the scientific name for saggy breasts).
However, multiple pregnancies, smoking and simply getting older have been correlated with droopier cleavage, according to a study of 132 women published in the Annals of Plastic Surgery in May.
The mom-to-be is the only one going through hormonal changes. She's not alone: Dad's dealing with hormone shifts, too.
A study published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior in 2000 found that over the course of his mate's pregnancy, an expectant father's testosterone levels go down and his prolactin levels go up. Researchers think this adjustment may help prime dudes to play daddy.
Your body shape will never be the same again. "With exercise and diet, it certainly is possible to get back in the shape you were in before getting pregnant," Stone said, adding that this is easiest for people who were quite fit before conceiving.
People tend to forget that the body changes with age, with or without a pregnancy, Stone told MyHealthNewsDaily. So before blaming your saddlebags on your offspring, try counting the candles on your next birthday cake.
Pregnancy makes your feet grow. While most women experience some swelling in their calves, ankles and feet during pregnancy, many can fit back into their favorite heels at some point postpartum.
But this one isn't a complete myth: Some women permanently go up a half-size over the course of a pregnancy and possibly even another half-size with each subsequent pregnancy.
"Hopefully, they're not having ten kids," Stone laughed.
Drinking any alcohol during pregnancy will hurt your baby. While binge drinking during pregnancy can cause severe problems, recent studies of thousands of women in the United Kingdom and Australia have confirmed earlier research suggesting that light to moderate drinking usually defined as one drink a week to one small drink most days may not be harmful.
Drinking during pregnancy is more culturally acceptable in Europe and Australia, where pregnant woman imbibe more openly than in the United States. But many physicians in the United States, such as Dr. Michael Broder, author of "Panic-Free Pregnancy" (Perigee Trade, 2004), also quietly allow their patients to have the occasional alcoholic drink particularly after the first trimester.
"Morning" sickness only happens in the morning. If only this were true! Thought to be caused by shifting hormones, morning sickness can strike (and often does) at any point in the day. And it's not confined to the first trimester, as many believe, Stone said. "It can last up to 16 weeks."
"Pregnancy brain" makes it impossible to concentrate. This may be true in the first few months, when a 30-fold increase in progesterone makes most women really, really, sleepy. And some researchers say pregnancy hormones may make it hard for a pregnant woman to remember where she placed her keys.
But pregnancy brain may not be all bad.
In a small pilot study of 10 women, Stone and colleagues found that women tend to have increased attention spans in their third trimester. If the results are confirmed in a larger group of women something the researchers are currently working on it may be an indicator of "neuronal nesting."
"This may be nature's way of increasing the attention a mother is
going to need to give a newborn," Stone said.
Genes From Mom & Dad Tied to
Eating for Two
Many Teen Boys View Pregnancy as
A new study shows that 75% of sexually active teenage boys said they had no plans for pregnancy, but 56% said there was at least some chance they might get someone pregnant.
Researchers say the results suggest that teen boys' intentions and beliefs about pregnancy may differ and should be addressed by sexual health counselors.
"Clearly, if you ask a teenage boy if he plans on pregnancy, he will probably say no," says researcher Cynthia Rosengard, PhD, of Rhode Island Hospital, in a news release. "But just because he doesn't plan to get someone pregnant, that doesn't mean he won't. In order to address teenage pregnancy, we need to ask the questions in different ways."
Intentions vs. Beliefs
In the study, published in the September issue of Pediatrics, researchers surveyed 101 boys aged 15 to 19 who were treated at a sexually transmitted disease clinic in Northern California.
The results show that the boys' intentions about getting someone pregnant were often in conflict with their beliefs about the likelihood of pregnancy occurring.
Researchers say the study suggests that boys who have inconsistent views on pregnancy may not want to get someone pregnant, but they may lack the motivation to avoid pregnancy.
Inside the Teen Boy's Mind
In addition, the results showed that the boys' attitudes about pregnancy were linked to their mother's educational status and beliefs about pregnancy.
For example, boys who said they intended to get someone pregnant or thought it was likely to occur had mothers with lower educational levels and less negative attitudes about pregnancy. These boys were also less likely to use condoms or other forms of birth control.
Researchers also found that some boys are worried that their partner may not trust them if they use condoms and suspect that they are unfaithful.
But by better understanding boys' attitudes and intentions about pregnancy, researchers say sexual health counselors may be able to provide better advice about condom use and prevent unintended pregnancies.
"The difference is that boys often determine, by their views about condoms and pregnancy, whether the girl will get pregnant," says Rosengard.
"If the male partner has negative views about pregnancy, he is more likely to use condoms. Likewise, if he believes that using condoms erodes trust in a relationship, he is less likely to use them, and potentially more likely to cause a pregnancy."
"If you find out what their intentions are, you may be able to
prevent them from causing a pregnancy," says Rosengard.
Source: Rosengard, C. Pediatrics, September 2005; vol 116: pp e114-e119. News release, Lifespan. my.webmd.com/content/article/111/109956.htm
Hormone Changes During Pregnancy....In Men
Might there be a parallel male sex hormone influence on male mood states during the postpartum period? Is it possible that male sex hormones would influence male mood states? Since sex differences in depressed mood emerge during adolescence and are maintained through adulthood, a look at the influence of male sex hormones in the manifestation of depression in men is worth a discussion.
The influence of the male sex hormone androgen begins to be manifest as early as the sixth week of fetal development. This makes it all important for expectant mothers to discuss medications, particularly steroid based medications and supplements, with their doctor. During this early developmental stage, undifferentiated tissues that are predecessors of sexual organs begin to differentiate, based on the presence or absence of androgen produced by the fetal testes. The influence of fetal androgen, driven by the presence of fetal testes, causes the differentiation of Wolffian ducts into parts of the male reproductive tract.
After birth, the function of the male sex hormones is relatively subtle until around 10 years of age. Coinciding with the onset of puberty, secretions of gonadotropin stimulate increased production of estrogen and progesterone in young women and testosterone in young men. Secretion of testosterone in young men results in the lowering of the voice, an increase in facial and body hair, and the development of secondary sexual characteristics that are associated with sexual maturity in our culture.
Could it also be that this increase in the production of testosterone has some protective influence with respect to the mood states of boys, resulting in the apparent decrease in levels of depression at adolescence that continues through adulthood? In light of the fact that the persistent sex differences in rates of depression emerge with puberty and adolescence, testosterone certainly could be implicated in this phenomenon as it pertains to young men.
My own research has found that men frequently have increasing amounts of depression during and immediately following pregnancy. Other researchers following a different path have found that testosterone levels decrease in expectant fathers during a pregnancy. These same experts find that these decreased levels generally return to normal following birth of the mens children.
Could there be link between hormones and postpartum depression in men? Were still chasing the answer to this question. But there is growing evidence that hormones may be a factor.
©2007, Bob Rodriguez
A Dad's Guide to Pregnancy: Month 1
Congratulations, You're Going to be a Dad!
Well, you did it, Big Guy your partner is pregnant, and you're going to be a father. Say it again: a father! Remember how deliriously happy you were when your team won the championship? When you bought your first hot car? When you landed the big contract and the boss gave you a promotion? Funny, isn't it, that those high points don't compare with how you feel right now: excited beyond your wildest expectations (and maybe a little freaked out). Kinda makes you want to crow like a rooster or puff up your chest like a gorilla doesn't it? Go for it, Dude (just make sure you do that crowing and puffing in the privacy of your own house). And be sure to share your joy and pride with her. She's no doubt feeling the same thrill. After all, you did it together.
What to Do: Month 1 of PregnancyGo out together now, while it's just the two of you and you're as mobile as you're going to be for a long, long time (you'll find that getting out once Baby makes three brings a whole new meaning to the phrase "carry-on luggage"). Keep in mind that even though she doesn't look pregnant yet, she's feeling it. If she's tired or sick, or just not up to socializing, cancel your plans and stay in. Stay sensitive and be open to the unexpected: no use taking her out to an elegant restaurant if one sniff of the salmon fillet sends her reeling to the bathroom to puke.
Check your employee handbook,or schedule an appointment with someone at your human resources department, to make sure you understand your company's rules on paternity leave and time off. You'll want quite a bit of it, both now (for her practitioner appointments) and later (when the baby arrives). Remind her to check her company's pregnancy policies too.
Whip out that calculator it's time to work out a realistic budget. You'll have quite a few new expenses coming up: maternity clothes, layette items such as clothing and bedding for your newborn, baby gear, and medical co-pays not to mention strange new grocery items she'll be craving (kumquats, anyone?). And don't forget about college!
Unless that Nigerian finance minister who e-mailed you really did send millions to your bank account, your household cash flow is going to be affected especially if you'll be going from two incomes to one. Talk about whatever changes you have to make in your spending now, so you don't get caught with your financial pants down later.
Find a new job. No, not a nine-to-five one with a paycheck (though that's always nice) a volunteer slot right there at home. Beyond what you're already doing in the domestic department, choose one thing around the house that she always does (preferably one that's physically challenging: vacuuming, scrubbing toilets, folding the laundry) and start doing it yourself, without asking her. Once you get into the habit pick another, and do that too and so on. (Do you have a cat? You'll be changing the litter for the next nine months; she's not allowed.)
Plan the pregnancy press release. Strategize about when to spread the news to friends, family, and colleagues. Maybe you're so anxious to spill the beans that you're about to burst but you'll need to decide together who you want in on the secret now and who has to wait a few weeks. (The guy you buy your morning paper from may be in the latter category.) A word of advice for when you do start spreading the news: "We're expecting" is fine. "We're pregnant" has an iffy biological ring to it that may make your hockey team buddies roll their eyes.
What to Talk About: Month 1 of Pregnancy
Get a little sappy, sentimental, and nostalgic or a lot. Spin "your songs" on the CD player, and tell her what made you fall in love with her back then, what you love most about her now. Swap stories about your first date, your first kiss, your first "I love you." Talk about what makes you a strong couple (and how becoming parents will make you even stronger). In the coming weeks, your relationship will undergo unique challenges. It's wise to expend a little energy reinforcing the foundation now.
Dad's Guide Tip: Month 1 of Pregnancy
Now's the time to practice the art of the back rub a skill
that'll come in handy in months to come (especially when her back
really starts to ache which it's guaranteed to do). Want to
score some extra points? Surprise her with some massage oil for that
back rub. But consider making it unscented. Her sense of smell is
probably as sensitive as a hound dog's right now, and even
once-favorite aromas may turn her off completely (and send her
straight to the toilet again). Another possibility to be alert to:
She may not be in the mood for touching of any kind right now. So
always ask, and if she shoots down your rubdown, remember that she's
not rejecting you, she's reacting to the changes in her body.
A Dad's Guide to Pregnancy: Month 2
The news of her pregnancy has settled in, but it still doesn't seem quite real (she's not showing, so there's no tangible proof unless you count all those bathroom runs and those weird aversions and those midnight trips she's been making you take to the 7-11.) The only thing that may actually feel real are your self-doubts, which may quickly be overtaking last month's delirium. Will I be a good father? Will I be a good enough provider? Will she love the baby more than me? But here's some heartening news you'll no doubt find reassuring: All these worries are completely normal. And the very fact that you're already losing sleep over them means you're on the right track (uninvolved fathers don't spend time obsessing about these things).
What to Do This Month
Pick up the slack. If you think you're tired at the end of the day, think about this: Your pregnant partner expends more energy lying down now that she's building a baby's body than yours does when you're, well, body building. Which makes her a lot more tired than you've ever known her to be. So even with all you've done for her in the past (and normally do for her in the present), now's the time to go the extra mile in helping out around the house. Pick the dirty clothes off the floor, throw in a load of laundry, whip up dinner, and do the dishes (if you haven't been already) and encourage her to put up her (weary) feet, catch her breathe, and take five (or ten or twenty...). After all, she's growing a whole other human being inside her, one who is completely and totally dependent on her, and she's going to need you, in turn, to take care of her.
Share a spot quiz. Quick: Whose health insurance will cover the baby? The right answer: It depends. On whose plan will provide coverage for the best price, whose network has the great local pediatrician you want to use, and which of you is most likely to remain with your current employer for a while. Double-check everything before making a decision. Find out what happens to your insurance (hers and yours) during and after your leave periods (back to those employee handbooks).
Get your guard up. It's not too early to think about who will take care of your child should something happen to you a guardian. Make sure you and your partner agree on someone who shares your values and expectations, and who has the best interests of your child at heart. Have a frank conversation with that person this is not an honorary title, it's a potentially huge responsibility. Make it official by adding it to your will. (You do have a will, don't you?)
Indulge her err physical idiosyncrasies. She's dealing with hormones lots of them. They've taken over her body and are doing really peculiar things to her taste buds. Which means that she might be completely grossed out by the same foods that she used to love, and she might be begging you to run out to the store for foods that she's never eaten before (often just when you're about to start watching the game). Don't ignore these cravings and aversions she's as powerless to control them as you are to understand them. Instead, indulge her (within reason, of course) by keeping the offending foods out of smelling distance (Love chicken wings? Love them somewhere else) and surprising her with the pickle-and-pimento loaf she suddenly can't live without (no one said you had to eat it). Your indulgence will make her feel better, and she'll appreciate the extra TLC she's getting from you.
Topic of Conversation
Ask her how she's feeling and what you can do to help. Does she want you to rub her feet? Is there anything special, or different, she wants to eat? Is there anything she'd like you to avoid doing while you're around her supersensitive self (skip the aftershave she now finds repulsive, not come home reeking of onion rings, hog the bathroom when she's most likely to need it quickly). Also, ask her how you can get involved. Does she want you to be there for the practitioner visits? Even if you can't get away for each and every visit, be sure to show interest and concern by asking questions ("So Sweetie, did the doctor give you any advice on how to keep those prenatal vitamins down?"). And whatever you do, plan to be there for the milestone appointments (when the heartbeat will be heard, at the ultrasound, at the amnio).
This Month's Survival Tactic
She may be irritable this month for a hundred different reasons,
not all of which she'll want to discuss with you and some of which
you do not want to ask about. "Honey, are you constipated?" is not a
great opening line but she may be, and you can help by
bringing home some high-fiber groceries (trail mix, oat bran muffins
from the health food store, a basket of crunchy apples). (Try some of
these fiber-filled recipes, too.) Do not mention this (or use the
word hemorrhoids ) to her, ever or at least not until she's
well past her due date and has recovered her sense of humor about
these things. On the other hand, if she brings them up (or any other
symptoms), be ready to discuss them openly and intelligently (and
without smirking of any kind). Get the lowdown on every pregnancy
symptom and solution to get a feel for what she's going through and
how you can help.
A Dad's Guide to
Pregnancy: Month 3
Your partner's pregnant breasts may be swelling and you think that's just swell. But before you do the obvious, think twice. Ask before you touch they may look irresistibly tempting to you, but to a pregnant woman, they're likely to feel tender, painful, and not at all sexy (especially around the nipple area, so definitely don't play with them like a radio tuner). She may be wary about sex and cautious about doing anything too wild (or anything at all) in bed. Sex during pregnancy is safe (unless her practitioner has put the brakes on it), but follow her lead on this one throughout the nine months. If she's not in the mood, if she's feeling too nauseated, or if she's just too plain tired, try again another time and be a good sport while you're waiting for your ship to come in. Remember, she's got a lot going on in her mind (and in her body) right now, and it's a safe bet that not one of those thoughts is "I wonder if his sexual needs are being met." Be patient your sex life is likely to perk up in the second trimester. In the meantime, keep repeating to yourself "abstinence makes the heart grow fonder. " (On the other hand, some women are in sexual hyperdrive in the first trimester, thanks to increased blood flow down there while some fathers are too weirded out either by (a) making love with a fetal audience or (b) making love to somebody's mother that they can't perform to their partner's satisfaction. Remember, what's normal in your relationship is what's normal just don't forget to communicate what you're both feeling.)
What to Do This Month
Lend an ear. At this month's checkup, which you must not miss, you may be able to hear your baby's heartbeat. Prepare to be blown away. Think about how to mark the occasion (and it certainly is a reason to celebrate). Take her out for a special lunch, and stop to buy her flowers. Later, write a letter to your future son or daughter about how you felt the first time you heard that miraculous sound; write another one to your partner to tell her what this means to you. (Sounds corny? Try it anyway. You'll be surprised at how much it'll mean to all of you one day.)
Watch your tongue. Your baby, officially a fetus, is still tiny but maybe, just maybe, is getting big enough to start making its presence known. As her tummy begins to swell, try to remember that for many women, "showing" often sparks the first fears of becoming fat. Heighten your sensitivity run your hand over that miraculous little swell and tell her how much you love her and the baby. But do not (repeat, do not) use the words fat, big,wide, round, or any variation thereof (including Buddha-like ).
Use your head. What some people call morning sickness can hit her at any hour of the day or night and it's an absolutely awful feeing (think stomach flu, motion sickness, and the worst hangover of your life all rolled into three or more miserable months). With luck, she'll get past it once she gets out of the first trimester, but until then do whatever you can to make her more comfortable. Bring her foods that quell her queasies and don't provoke another run to the toilet ginger ale, soothing smoothies, crackers. (But ask first what spells "relief" for one queasy woman spells v-o-m-i-t to another.) Be there for support when she's hugging the toilet for an hour straight (hold her hair back, bring her some water, rub her back). Encourage her to eat small meals throughout the day instead of three large ones (spreading out the load and keeping her tummy filled may ease her nausea). And remember, no jokes. If you'd been throwing up for ten straight weeks, you wouldn't find it amusing. Neither does she.
Topic of Conversation
Are you feeling a little left out? Maybe fathers do, even this early in the pregnancy. After all, she's the one getting all the attention (from the practitioner, from the grandparents-to-be) and the one with the physical connection to the baby (and the physical symptoms to show for it). Your impending fatherhood is only in the abstract right now. Don't let yourself become alienated from the process. An open and honest dialogue with your partner about your feelings will remedy any feelings of aimlessness that you might be having. Tell her about your concerns and anxieties, and encourage her to share her feelings as well. Even if your worries seem to pale in comparison to what she's going through right now (like hunching over the toilet throwing up), they are still valid and need to be shared with your partner. There's nothing more important than communicating with her so open up and spill your guts for a change. But also remember, the best way to keep from feeling left out is to get involved.
This Month's Survival Tactic
She's going to be, um, gassy. Let it go. And do not reply in kind;
she's pregnant, you're not.
A Dad's Guide to
Pregnancy: Month 4
"I Didn't Say 'Fat,' I Said 'Fantastic'!"
For the first time in months, your partner is finally regaining some energy and her appetite (and maybe, if you're lucky, some of her sexual appetite as well). All that good news is offset by her hormonally charged mood swings. Everything she does is frustrating to her (and everything you do is annoying). Can't figure out why you're getting on her nerves? Hint: It starts with the letter h and it's completely out of her control. That's rightit's those hormones again. So be a big man and let it all slide. And last month's rule about not mentioning the word fat ? It goes double this month and every month from now on. She's beautiful, and she needs you to tell her that morning, noon, and night.
What to Do This Month
Face your fears. By now your impending paternity may have caused you to think (suddenly) about your own mortality. She needs you, the baby needs you, and you need to keep yourself very much alive and healthy now. Does that make you feel a bit pressured? That's normal for a man in your position (especially if you've been the daredevil type until now). Be realistic: You may want to cancel that skydiving excursion, and by all means fasten your seat belt. But don't let endless worry turn your daydreams into horror movies needlessly. You can still step off the curb without panic (just look both ways first).
Give junior an allowance. Set up a separate bank account for baby-related spending. That's the easy part; it's tougher to find the discipline (and the cash) to contribute to the account with each paycheck. Choose an amount that's substantial enough to satisfy when the statement comes, but not so high that it makes you suffer when you renew your subscription to Sports Illustrated.
Get moving. Exercise is a great stress buster, for both of you, and it's something you can do together. She won't be heading to the squash court or shooting hoops with you, but you can still start an exercise plan together. Try a pregnancy yoga (yes, yoga) workout on DVD, or buy a pregnancy workout book and work out together. Take a daily twosome walk, either before work or after dinner (the exercise is good for both of you, and the togetherness will do wonders, too). One notable benefit: Exercise releases feel-good endorphins, which can give her a mood boost when you both need it most. Stick with it: If she sees you're serious about it, chances are she will be as well. (Check out more work-out options that work for everyone.)
Go to bed. Finish the day off by giving her one of your patented back rubs, and see what all that fresh air and exercise might have brewed up. She's now in her second trimester, famous for the sexual energy it can bring. (But as always, you can never tell which way the wind blows when it comes to a pregnant woman, so ask before you leap under the sheets for a little hanky-panky. She may not be in the mood after all.)
Topic of Conversation
It's ultrasound time and that means you could find out (if you both want to) if you're walk, either before work or after dinner (the exercise is good for both of you, and the togetherness will do wonders, too). One notable benefit: Exercise releases feel-good endorphins, which can give her a mood boost when you both need it most. Stick with it: If she sees you're serious about it, chances are she will be as well. (Check out more work-out options that work for everyone.)
This Month's Survival Tactic
Whatever you do, don't talk about other nonpregnant women's bodies
within earshot of your significant other or gaze longingly at those
bodies when you're around her. She's feeling very heifer-like now
(and those feelings will only increase as her girth does); the last
thing she wants to hear is how attractive you find that woman on TV
or how svelte the neighbor is looking since she started South Beach.
Embrace her new curves (literally give her a hug) and make her
feel loved love handles and all. Otherwise, you might just
find yourself in the doghouse.
A Dad's Guide to
Pregnancy: Month 5
It's Halftime, But There's a Lot of Game to Go
The halfway point of pregnancy is a big milestone so why does the second half seem so much longer than the first? It may be partly because you spent so much of the first trimester in disbelief (it can be so so exciting, but before she starts to show it's so unreal). Now that the reality of her pregnancy has hit home for the past month or so, the next ( is it really?) four can seem endless. Mark the midway point with a special dinner (a special present too, if you're feeling flush), take a deep breath, and settle in for the wait. There's a long way to go.
What to Do This Month
Get out of town. Or go into town. Or go somewhere, anywhere, that's not home. A mini-vacation is a good idea this month, whether it's modest or extravagant. What you both really need is the break. Make your plans soon: Air travel may be limited by the third trimester, and even road trips will get tougher (her back is aching and she can barely get across the room without taking a rest stop; this is not the time for that cross-country drive you've always talked about). A week at the beach, a weekend in the mountains, or an overnight at a luxury hotel will do wonders for keeping the romance alive. And it'll never again be so easy to travel with your child.
Go shopping. Yes, you. Don't send her off to the mall to choose nursery furniture and layette items without you. You may or may not care about curtains, wallpaper patterns, or gliders (when did they stop calling them rocking chairs anyway?), but a baby needs a lot of gear beyond that. You're on a team, and the whole team (both of you) needs to know about that gear. If looking at fabric swatches really would turn you to stone, participate in the other choices (shopping for a high-tech stroller will seem as complicated as choosing your first car, right down to the test drive you'll want to take down aisle five). Use the Buying for Baby Worksheet and work together to decide what your baby needs.
Stock up. Your partner, (even the one who used to eat just the right portions of food ever so daintily), has taken to eating everything in the house that isn't tied down (so much for that last slice of pizza you were saving for a midnight snack). Her truck-driver appetite is helping to grow your baby, so no snide comments about the alarming rate at which she's emptying the entire refrigerator. Take the rapidly emptying shelves as an opportunity (and a hint) to do some grocery shopping yourself. And make sure you buy in bulk! She'll appreciate not having to lug those shopping bags by herself.
Get serious about child care. Will one of you stay home after the baby is born? Or will you both work? In the first case, think about who'll be on call for your date nights (and you will need those). In the second case, you'll need to begin thinking about regular child care. What can you afford? Day care center, home-based care, private nanny, live-in au pair? The best price, of course, is free, but unless the sitter is a family member, that's probably not an option. (And remember that "free" child care from family often comes with its own price in unwanted advice and intrusion.) Ask friends, neighbors, and family members what they did when it came to child care, and check out local options. You don't don't have to make a final decision yet a lot can change in the next few months but do some legwork now so you don't get caught short later. (Make a point of looking into your employer's pre-tax child-care program; it can save you a bundle.)
Topic of Conversation
With your baby's birthday fast approaching (okay, it may not seem that fast these days), it's time to start giving some thought to all the childbirth options available. Ask her how she feels about pain relief during labor or whether she'd rather go unmedicated. Would she like a doula to help out? Would you? (You really might a doula can be as helpful for the dad as she is for the mom.) Familiarize yourself with the delivery options available and discuss them with her. But remember, it's her body that'll be going through labor, so back up and support her decisions when it comes to birthing that baby.
This Month's Survival Tactic
Take a look in the mirror. Step on the bathroom scale. Have you been eating for two as well? Cut it out.
A Dad's Guide to Pregnancy: Month 6
It really might seem that way as you watch your pregnant partner's belly lurch, peak, roll, and move. Your little guy or gal is packing quite a punch and a kick these days. So take a feel (but ask first). She'll love that you're getting into the action (and feeling the action), and it'll bring the two of you (and three of you) closer together. Stay hands-on in other ways too, like by writing down reminders for her if she seems forgetful (which she will; pregnancy does a number on her brain as well as her body, so be prepared for her to be a little scatterbrained in the coming weeks and months).
What to Do This Month
Experiment. Ah the second trimester. Her sex drive may be in overdrive but her body has gone from two-seater to semi. Suggest exploring new positions that are both comfortable and exciting. You've probably been doing it with her on top and/or with her facing away on her side; now try it from behind with her on her knees or sitting in your elongated lap as you lay down. More worried (about "hitting" the baby, or the baby "seeing" what's going on) than hot? Don't be. First of all, you're giving yourself too much credit the baby's way out of even your reach. Second, the baby is well secured in its uterine home, impervious to harm, completely unable to view the proceedings, and perfectly oblivious to what's going on when you're getting it on. As far as hurting her always ask what feels good and what doesn't. But take it from her practitioner for most women, sex is completely safe up until delivery. Still concerned? Let her know. Remember, open and honest communication about everything, including sex, is the best policy.
Renovate. Or decorate. If there's anything that needs doing in the house, do it now. You will not be building new shelves or regrouting the tile for a while after the baby comes home, so finish those unfinished projects soon. Pay special attention to the nursery you have a little time to finish the decorating, but any patching or painting should be on your to-do list soon. (Put the tools and ladder away when you're done.)
Date. Go out together, and make it special by suggesting you dress up a bit. Go where she wants to go (dancing, or to a chick flick, or a museum, whatever she loves), even if it usually makes you groan. Tell her how beautiful she is she has her doubts now more than ever. Score extra points by letting her sleep in the next day (or plan on lingering in bed together to extend your special night with some morning-after play after you've served up breakfast in bed, of course).
Be self-aware. Are you feeling curiously pregnant? Cramps, cravings, backache? Relax, that's couvade syndrome, a sympathetic (and relatively common) reaction of a male animal to his mate's pregnancy. Somewhere in your psyche you're dealing with your anxiety, stress, and (maybe just a little?) jealousy, as she's getting all the attention. But there's more to these sympathy symptoms than just sympathy. Believe it or not, your female hormones are kicking into high gear too as you approach fatherhood (and you thought she had the exclusive on those hormones ha!). Not enough to grow breasts, or anything, but enough so you're more in touch with your nurturing feminine side which is a good thing. So now that you're really feeling her pain, redouble your efforts to help her out (cook some dinner, clean the bathroom, pick up the dry cleaning). And don't forget to give yourself a break, too.
Topic of Conversation
Does it feel like there's a lull in your life as you wait for baby to arrive and for pregnancy to be behind you? Or does that due date seem as if it's approaching like a runaway train? Ask her if she feels like time is dragging, or racing. Talk about what's left to be done: Finding a doula? Ordering the furniture? Buying the layette? Choosing a name? Use the Baby Name Finder if you need help making your selection (or if you just want to have some fun with wacky choices you'd never really make).
This Month's Survival Tactic
Is the thought of childbirth classes thrilling to you or
terrifying? Both, you say? It's fine to let her know that, but you'll
go when it's time. To every class, no excuses (just say no to poker
nights, business dinners, and the big game when they conflict with
class time). Be enthusiastic about every drill they ask you to do
(even when you start hyperventilating during those breathing
exercises). And remember, these classes are for you too (even if they
seem a little lame sometimes). Ask your questions, pay attention,
take notes. And don't forget to ask questions about baby care
or read up on it yourself. You'll be prepared for whatever labor and
beyond throws your way, plus she'll think you're her hero
you already are!).
A Dad's Guide to Pregnancy: Month 7
"Hey in There! Want to Hear Some U2?"
As your partner's pregnant belly grows, your baby is growing like gangbusters all systems are go, fat is being deposited under the skin, giving your baby those pinchable cheeks (both kinds), and your baby's eyes are opened. What's more, he or she can very likely hear you now how cool is that? Put your mouth near your pregnant partner's beautiful round belly and start talking. What to say? How about, "Hey, you in there, we can't wait to meet you!" Also always appropriate: "We love you!" But don't stop there. Sing your favorite song to her belly, read a kid's book out loud (or the Wall Street Journal ), and add a little rubbing (Mom will appreciate that, and baby can also feel your caresses). Meanwhile, that little entity inside is causing your pregnant partner's mood to swing like a circus trapeze. Brace yourself for crying jags and flashes of anger, and close in for a hug whenever you can.
What to Do This Month
Keep it clean. On the home front, that is.Count your funds and see if you can swing a housecleaning service. If that stretches the checkbook too thin, step up your efforts to stay on top of things yourself. You should be the one bent over a mop and bucket, not her. And don't neglect the bathroom, which is where she spends a lot of her time.
Keep on top of things. Expectant women are absentminded women thanks not only to the emotional stresses of pregnancy (there's a lot on her mind, which leaves less room for everything else), but to hormonal changes. All those details she always kept in her head (so you didn't have to), like who gets a birthday card this month and what day the dry cleaning will be ready and when the electric bill's due, will be getting harder for her to remember. Step up to the plate, and start some lists of your own.
Survey your estate. Not yet a land baron? Even if you rent the tiniest apartment imaginable, you still have an estate (legally speaking, anyway). Estate planning lets you direct the distribution of your assets should you well if you suddenly aren't around anymore. Wills and trusts can help keep your estate within your family (they're particularly important if you two are not married). You can prepare some of the documents with do-it-yourself software, but if you have a considerable estate, let an attorney handle it.
Take a chance. This is probably the biggest she's ever been in her life (though, guess what she's on her way to becoming a lot bigger) and she can't even get comfortable enough in bed to sleep, much less roll in the sack with you. You're more than willing to work with her (you're such a good sport), but some positions just don't fly anymore. You can suggest the mutually satisfying and comfortable experience of oral sex. Bring up the topic gently, especially if this one hasn't been part of your regular habits. And, as always, no pressure she should have the last word, even if it's no.
Topic of Conversation
Having a boy (or don't know what you're having)? Now's a good time to discuss with your partner what to do about circumcision and to let her know whether you have any strong preferences (like about having your son match you). Something else to talk about now that becoming a dad is around the corner: What kind of father you had and the kind of father you want to be to your son. If it's a girl you're expecting (or may be expecting), talk about how the prospect of having a daughter makes you feel. Are you charmed at the thought of a little princess calling you Daddy? Terrified that the little princess will one day be wearing a bikini or bringing home a boyfriend? Or a little of both?
This Month's Survival Tactic
Her friends or coworkers are probably planning a baby shower for
her. Offer to help out, and protect her from well-meaning friends if
they're planning something you just know she'll hate. Be available to
stay if she wants you there and have somewhere to go for a
while if she'd prefer to go it alone. And for extra points plan your
own "shower" for her but make it a romantic one that's focused
on her (think candlelight dinner with her favorite foods) and buy
something for her (a necklace, bracelet, perfume, a day at a spa that
offers special prenatal services, or even that classic favorite
long-stemmed roses), instead of something for the baby.
A Dad's Guide to Pregnancy: Month 8
Are We There Yet?
Life suddenly feels like you're driving on the highway at 90 miles an hour with the top down. A baby is on the way! You can't wait to see it and hold it (and yet you're terrified that you'll drop it). Anticipation has never been greater, and the two remaining months may seem endless. How to pass the time? Make sure your employer is on the same page as you in terms of your paternity leave and knows (approximately) when you'll be taking it (no boss wants to be told, "My wife is in labor and I won't be back for a month"). And make sure your partner has what she needs from you during this final sprint (a sympathetic ear, some breakfast in bed, the toilet seat down ).
What to Do This Month
Stay up late with her if she has trouble sleeping (and if she wants you around). Many pregnant women suffer from insomnia around now, and it can be pretty lonely in the middle of the night. Help her get comfortable by bringing home a body pillow (and the bonus is that she won't be stealing your pillows anymore), give her a relaxing backrub, run her a bath, bring her a warm cup of milk and a muffin. You can also take advantage of the opportunity for some pillow talk if she's interested and cuddling if she needs it. And if it leads to sex, well, maybe both of you will sleep better.
Help, help, help. Think you're helping enough around the house? Help some more. It's getting harder and harder for her to drag that bellyful of baby around, never mind drag it and a vacuum cleaner.
Get packed. She's not the only one who'll need a bag for the hospital or birthing center. You've got stuff, too like a change of clothes, some snacks to keep you going (at least you can have more than just the ice chips she'll be sucking and the Jell-O she'll be slurping), and a game or two (a deck of cards, a backgammon set) to keep her busy and her mind off the pain (and to keep your mind from going numb labor can be really long). Hey, don't forget the camera and camcorder!
Get ready to double up on Daddy duty, if you have other kids. For months you've been talking up the new baby, and the other kids may be as excited as you or just really anxious about their new status in the household. Develop some special routines that you'll be able to continue after the baby arrives be sure they know there are things "big kids" can do with Dad that babies can't. Then be sure to do them.
Topic of Conversation
What will your parenting style be? For consistency's sake (and kids crave consistency), it's best to be on the same page or at least in the same book when it comes to parenting philosophies, so get yours meshing now. How much will you be like your own parents, and how much will you reinvent the roles? Ask her to tell you a story from her childhood she's never told you before, and you do the same for her. Talk about what your parents did right, what you think they could have done better (and what you hope to), and which family traditions mean the most to you. (Don't forget to mention the family "traditions" that you'd like to put a stop to!) Realize, too, that what sounds good in theory may not end up feeling right in practice, so you'll need to be flexible once there's actually a child to parent.
This Month's Survival Tactic:
Brace yourself for Braxton Hicks contractions practice
contractions that seem like the real thing, but really aren't (yes,
it's another indication that Mother Nature has a warped sense of
humor). How can you tell the difference? They'll stop if she changes
positions (real contractions won't) and they don't get progressively
worse (real contractions will). Plus, Braxton Hicks contractions are
focused up front (often tensing her belly into strangely contorted
shapes), whereas real contractions often radiate from back to front.
This is not labor. Repeat: This is not labor. Yet. But take advantage
of them to help her practice her breathing exercises (hey you
need the practice, too!).
A Dad's Guide to Pregnancy: Month 9
Coaching a Birth Is Labor-Intensive!
The childbirth classes are over, the nursery is ready for its soon-to-arrive occupant, the baby clothes are washed and put away, and now you wait. And wait. And think about the big day coming up (soon), and the call ("it's time!") that will change your life forever. All through those childbirth preparation classes, you both pretended to be in the delivery room, acting out the drama in your future, probably giggling a good deal as you did. Why does it suddenly seem terrifying and not the least bit funny? Will you be able to stand seeing her in so much pain? How will you hold up through the many hours (or days!) of her labor? (Do you feel guilty and selfish even thinking of that, when you know what she's about to go through?) And what if you can't cut through the umbilical cord? Take another deep breath these are all normal anxieties. You have reserves of nerves (and strength and endurance) you don't know about (and, fortunately, so does she). You will be able to do it. And you will be so glad you did. The delivery process is one of the most miraculous experiences of a lifetime and it'll bring you closer together both as a twosome and as a threesome.
What to Do This Month
Practice putting the car seat in and taking it out. (You do have that car seat already, don't you?) You'll want to become a pro at this, and do it without jostling its occupant too much (you'll learn to appreciate the value of a napping baby very soon). Make sure you know how it attaches to the car; it's very easy to do incorrectly. Get really wild and actually read the instruction booklet. Or better yet, go to a car seat clinic at your local firehouse or police station or baby store and have your installation technique checked by a professional.
Put the seat down. Urinary frequency, your spouse's constant companion in her first trimester, has probably come back to visit big time, now that her gigantic uterus is pressing down on her bladder, cutting way down on holding capacity. So if you haven't gotten the memo yet, keep the seat down (especially at night) and keep the hallway free of obstacles (your briefcase, gym shoes, basketball) and lit by a nightlight so she won't stumble or fall on her way to the toilet.
Do a safety check. Does the changing table have a guardrail or at least a strap? Is the path from your bed to the crib clear? (You'll both be walking it a lot, so, again, get in the habit of clearing the clutter. And buy another nightlight or two to guide your way.) Think six to seven months ahead, when the baby is crawling: Get down on your belly and take a tour of the house; see how many glass objects, cords, wires, and choking hazards you can easily reach. What can topple onto you? Secure it, or get rid of it.
Stock up. Running out to the store won't be that easy once your baby arrives (there will always be too many other things to do). So now's a great time to do a thorough shelf-filling of staples (from paper towels to pasta). If your cooking skills are up to it, fill the freezer, too, with meal-size servings of your specialties stashed in microwave-safe containers so they'll be ready to pull out and defrost when cooking's the last thing either of you will have the strength to do.
Look for a sign. If you're of a mind to announce the baby's arrival to the neighborhood, sign up now for one of those lawn-ornament storks. Figure about $100 for a ten-day rental. (Why a stork? They were once thought to bring luck and prosperity, two things every set of new parents need.)
Check your stocks of memory cards, film, batteries, videotapes, whatever you're planning to use to record the big day.
Print your list. The phone list, that is that all-important lineup of people who need to know when labor has begun and when the baby has arrived. Who simply has to know right away, and who can get an e-mail in a few days? Use the Who to Call Worksheet to sort them out. And don't forget to put the insurance company on it. Babies aren't automatically covered and you probably have only 30 days grace to add your new arrival to your plan.
Topic of Conversation
Remember Month One, when you talked about what makes you such a good couple? Have that conversation again. Let her know again how much you love her (more than ever before!), and how much you're looking forward to this baby and to sharing the lifetime of parenting (or at least the next 18 years) you have ahead. Tell her that you're happy, and scared, and excited, and worried, and thrilled. She's all that too, and she'll be glad to know you're feeling the same. Talking about it lets you share the joy and ease the anxiety. Remember, and remind her, you're in this together.
This Month's Survival Tactic
This is your last opportunity to be just a couple before you also
become a couple of parents. Plan some special two-time (a dinner and
a movie out, or if she's too pooped for that, dinner that you've
prepared or catered and a movie you've rented at home) that helps you
feel even closer before life changes forever. And be prepared (as
prepared as you can be, anyway) to get that call. And speaking of
that call, keep your cell phone or beeper with you at all times (even
when you run to the john at work).
A Man Took A
Pregnancy Test As A Joke And Ended Up Finding Out Something
You probably never thought youd read about men taking pregnancy tests, but its now happening around the worldfor a good reason, too.
It all started out as a joke, but what happens when the punchline ends up being something incredibly serious? When one man decided to take a pregnancy test he found in his medicine cabinet, he never expected the result to be positive. The real surprise, though, is that the positive result wasnt just a mishap, a faulty test, or a joke from an evil pregnancy test manufacturer. No, for this man, the positive result actually meant something.
Taking a pregnancy test can fill people with a wide range of emotionshappiness, sadness, excitement, fear, hope. Some take them hoping for a positive result after months of negatives, while others take them praying to see a single line instead of two.
No matter the persons situation, however, theres usually one thing all pregnancy tests have in common: theyre taken by a woman.
Why would a man take a pregnancy test? Most of us would guess itd be out of sheer curiosity about what would happen, on a dare from a friend, or just for a laugh while youre bored. The latter is exactly why one man said his friend took a pregnancy test.
He found it in a cabinet from his ex-girlfriend who had moved out. No big dealat least they never had a pregnancy scare to deal with, right? Unfortunately, this little joke, which the man thought would turn out to just be a funny story, turned out to be a lot more than what he bargained for. And imagine how shocked he was when it came back positive!
A positive pregnancy test is usually a happy time. Surprise or not, most women are excited about the new life developing. This man, though, has a different story to tell.
And after he shared the story on Reddit, men across the world are now taking pregnancy tests as well.
Why? To screen themselves for something no man wants.
Lets go back to the beginning: It all started off innocently enough. A Reddit user, who has since deleted his account, decided to make a crudely drawn comic about his male friends decision to use a pregnancy test.
The test had apparently been left behind in his medicine cabinet by his ex-girlfriend, so he decided to give it a try for a laugh, thinking nothing would really happen. Much to their surprise, however, the test came back positive.
The two clearly didnt think the positive result meant anything, but thought the outcome was hilarious nonetheless, so they decided to use it to gain some karma on Reddit.
What they got, though, was tons of advice that actually ended up saving the life of this users friend.
After the comic was posted, comments flooded in that suggested whoever took the test needed to see a doctor immediately.
There were so many that he decided the advice couldnt be ignored, and the friend went to the doctor shortly after. Believe it or not, doctors actually detected a small tumor in the friends right testiclebecause it was caught so early on, it was small enough that it hadnt spread to any other areas of his body and could be treated right away.
The Reddit user later posted a follow-up comic to thank everyone for giving him the advice that saved his friend from a much worse fate.
He urged other men to check themselves for testicular cancer regularly, and reminded women to give themselves at-home screenings for breast cancer every now and then, too.
But how, exactly, did a pregnancy test detect testicular cancer?
As it turns out, its all about the hormones.
Pregnancy tests are designed to detect the presence of a very specific hormone in the urine known as beta human chorionic gonadotrophin (hGC), which is produced during pregnancy.
Though youd probably never expect it, there are quite a few varieties of testicular cancer that also produce that very hormoneaside from testicular cancer and pregnancy, there arent really any other reasons why this hormone would appear in the body.
According to the American Cancer Society, however, men shouldnt rely on a pregnancy test to tell them if they have testicular cancer or not. As with women, false positives are always possible, and theres always a chance that men with testicular cancer arent producing enough of the hormone for a pregnancy test to pick up.
Though it might feel a little strange to follow the advice of someone on Reddit, he was correct in telling men to screen themselves for the disease often. And yes, that means self-exams. Dont know what were talking about? Read on.
While performing a self-exam for testicular cancer might feel a little awkward at first, its a necessity for men of all ages. Thats righttesticular cancer can affect men of all ages, not just those who are middle-aged or elderly.
Fortunately, its a disease thats usually easy to treat and cure, especially when you discover it early on.
Its best to perform a self-exam right after you get out of the shower of bathtub, so that the skin in your nether region is softer and more relaxed. Youll take one testicle at a time gently roll it between your thumbs and fingers, using both hands. Youll be feeling for any hard lumps or bumps, abnormal swelling or changes in size, and areas that feel thicker than the rest.
Rest assured, thoughits not abnormal for one testicle to be larger or for one to hang lower. Once you begin checking yourself regularly, itll be easier to tell what feels normal for you so youre aware of any changes.
Finding a lump on one of the testicles is what most people think of when they think of testicular cancer, but there are other signs to look out for, too. Unfortunately, a lot of them might now show up until the cancer is advanced, but it might not show many symptoms even then. The additional signs you need to look out for include:
If your cancer has spread beyond the testicles, you can also develop other symptoms that will vary based on where the cancer has spread.
For any women out there wondering if pregnancy tests can detect anything other than pregnancy in women, the answer is actually yes.
Though ovarian cancer is somewhat rare in the United States, its also possible that a pregnancy test could detect the presence of this type of cancer in a womans body. It would do so in the same way that it would for testicular cancer in menby picking up on the presence of beta hGC produced by the tumor.
The only obvious caveat for women is that a positive pregnancy test could also very well mean theres a pregnancy happening so, if you find out youre not pregnant after a positive pregnancy test, the threat of ovarian cancer is worth exploring.
We all know, however, that false positives are a thing, so it
really is best to just discuss the outcome with your doctor before
you assume the worst.
Pregnant women, during the time they are with child, must tell the child they're carrying everything they see when they're walking through the woods. - Rigoberta Menchu