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Becoming a New Dad

Pregnancy and the birth of a baby can be an exciting and anxious time for everyone including a new dad.  Taking the time to prepare yourself for the big event may help make the experience a little less stressful and more rewarding for all of you.

Get to know what’s happening

It’s a good idea to find out what to expect during the different stages of pregnancy so you can help support your partner.

Pregnancy symptoms

Every pregnancy is different and the type and severity of pregnancy symptoms can vary.  Some women may only experience a few symptoms and feel fine for most of the time, while for others symptoms can be severe or last for most of the pregnancy.

When your partner is pregnant there are lots of hormonal changes going on in their body which can cause a range of different symptoms. Common early pregnancy symptoms your partner may experience include sore breasts, feeling tired, food cravings and morning sickness (which is feeling sick and vomiting, and can actually be at any time of the day or night not just in the morning).

During the later stages of pregnancy, when the baby is getting bigger and other changes are beginning to happen, the range of symptoms may also include things like backache, constipation, indigestion and mood swings.   As the end of the pregnancy approaches, the baby can begin to feel heavy and your partner may become more tired and irritable, and may find it harder to sleep.

Your baby’s development

Typically, a pregnancy lasts for about 40 weeks and during that time your child will grow from being a tiny mass of cells to a fully developed baby. At around 17-20 weeks your partner may start to feel the baby moving and by placing your hand on your partner’s stomach you may soon start to feel your baby kick too.

For more read Changes during pregnancy

Where to find out more

There are lots of different ways to find out more about what to expect during pregnancy, labour and the birth of your baby, including:

  • Going along to antenatal classes
  • Talking to other dads-to-be
  • Reading books, magazines and reputable websites.

You can also check out online pregnancy tools and trackers to find out more about the week-by-week changes during pregnancy. See our Pregnancy Tracker and Baby Development Tracker.

Getting involved

Providing your partner with practical support during the pregnancy shows you are a team. You may want to:

  • Attend antenatal appointments and check-ups with your partner where you can talk to the doctor or midwife directly, make decisions together and share the scan moments
  • Help support her healthy eating by doing it together
  • Give up smoking or drinking at the same time (it’s good for you too!)
  • Be her birth partner and plan things like cutting the cord together. For more information read Your Birth Partner.

Look after your relationship

Unless your midwife or doctor tells you otherwise, it’s okay to have sex during pregnancy. Your partner may not feel in the mood early on so you’ll need to show patience and sensitivity. Some dads-to-be also don’t feel comfortable having sex – don’t worry this is perfectly normal.   For more information read Sex in Pregnancy.

It’s normal to have all sorts of conflicting feelings – you and your partner may feel excited and nervous at the same time.  It’s important to make time to talk so you both know what you’re both feeling.


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