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Friday, May 9, 2014

Father may know best, but many new Dads need more educating

INDIANAPOLIS – Yeah, sure. She’s the one sporting that baby bump. But Dads, too, have important work to do in the months ahead.

As a father-to-be, you play a key role in supporting your partner and helping to ensure a healthy pregnancy. “Dads often express not feeling the reality of a pregnancy, especially in the first two trimesters,” said Ann Clute, RN, childbirth education coordinator and educator at Franciscan St. Francis Health. ”Dads don’t experience firsthand the discomfort and the fetal movements like moms do.

“That’s why childbirth classes are a great way for him to get involved,” she added. “He will meet other dads who feel exactly the same way he does.  He can learn and practice ways to support Mom through the rest of pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum. ”

Dads are also an integral part of the breastfeeding family so we can teach him ways to reassure Mom when she is feeling frustrated and unsure those first few weeks of nursing, said Clute. Newborn care classes allow for hands on practice with diapering, dressing, swaddling and holding a newborn; skills that scare many expectant fathers.

“And dads ask the best questions in class and are often the ones who lighten the mood in a classroom setting so childbirth educators love interacting with them,” said Clute.

It takes two
In addition to signing up for childbirth classes, here are some other ways to be more involved. Find out what it’s all about. From books to websites, try to learn more about pregnancy, childbirth and parenting. You and your partner might quiz each other and share pointers.

Go to her prenatal care visits. At one of the earlier appointments, you may hear your little one’s heartbeat. Later, you can even see the baby—and perhaps learn whether you’re having a girl or a boy.

Don’t light up. If you smoke, you may never have a better reason to quit. Secondhand smoke can harm your baby even before he or she is born. In the meantime, be sure not to smoke around your partner. And talk to your doctor if you need help quitting.

Help her have a healthy pregnancy. There are a lot of other ways you can help your partner and the baby stay healthy. For example:

·        Eat a healthy diet together, and avoid alcohol and illegal drugs so that it’s easier for her to do the same.

·        Take walks together, as long as it’s OK with her doctor. It’s a great way to bond and help her get some healthy exercise.

·        Help her steer clear of things that may be especially harmful to her now, such as harsh chemicals. If you have a cat, don’t let her empty the litter box.
·        Help prepare for the new arrival. You and your partner can decide how to set up the baby’s sleep area. And you might shop together for a crib, baby clothes and other items you’ll need for the baby. You can even put your mechanical skills on display by installing an appropriate infant safety seat in your vehicle well before your precious cargo’s first ride home.

Childbirth classes can help both mom and dad prepare for baby. Register for a class by calling 528-5554. To learn more about the classes Franciscan St. Francis Health offers, visit