As a partner or father, there are various ways that you can take part in the pregnancy and get to know the baby before you get to hold the little bundle in your arms.
Becoming a parent is a process. The mother has a completely different experience since she is carrying the baby inside her. But the other partner can also contribute to creating a warm, supportive and close relationship with the baby before it is born. The baby will bond with both of you, although the mother often has a head start because she breastfeeds the baby. You will both provide the baby with security in a new and mystifying world.
Welcoming your baby and parenthood
Maybe you planned the pregnancy together right from the start and waited impatiently together for the extra line to appear on the pregnancy test. Or maybe you were told the wonderful news and can hardly believe the two of you are expecting.
It's still early and a lot can still happen. A little later on, you can start preparing mentally for becoming parents for the first time – or maybe again.
A pregnancy can seem incredible even to the pregnant woman herself. It often feels more when you have the first ultrasound scan sometime after week 12. Of course you'll want to be there. You might see a tiny heart beating inside a little person that's just waiting to have you as parents.
Soon the mother will be in constant contact with the baby through its movements, hiccups and kicking. Does this all seem a little unfair? There is actually a brand new invention that allows the father to detect even tiny movements the baby makes in the womb. Read about BabyBuzz in the list of tips below.
Tips for the expecting partner
Here are some tips to help you, as the expecting partner, participate in the pregnancy and gradually prepare for your life's most important job.
• Go along to the appointments with the midwife. As part of the expecting couple, your thoughts and questions are important. It's also useful for both of you to get all the information given by the midwife so you can talk about it later.
• Give the baby a nickname. This helps you picture the baby as a little individual and imagine what he or she will look and be like.
• Share your joy – and worries. When you and your partner share your expectations and concerns, it helps you feel less worried and to understand each other better. It's normal to worry, but feeling strong anxiety can prevent you from bonding with the baby.
• During the pregnancy, both and your partner might start reflecting over your own childhoods. Discuss what sort of a parent you want to be and what feels especially important.
• Write in a blog or diary, or join online discussions about pregnancy and babies. Putting your thoughts and feelings into words is an effective way of preparing for what lies ahead. Libero's parents' talk can give you tips, support, answers to your questions and some new insights.
• Would you like to know when your baby hiccups, kicks or moves around inside your partner's tummy? Libero BabyBuzz is a digital bracelet that we are currently developing. It helps both parents to be more actively involved in the pregnancy. When the baby kicks or makes some other movement, the mother presses a button on her bracelet, which sends a vibration to her partner's bracelet. This is a simple, intimate way to include the expecting partner more actively in the pregnancy.
BabyBuzz is already available in a limited number of prototypes that parents-to-be can test. Read more about BabyBuzz here.
• Sing to your baby, speak to it at tummy level and stroke the bump. The baby will recognise your voice when it's born. It's reassuring to hear something familiar when you've just arrived in the world.
Studies have found that newborn babies are especially receptive to other children's voices. This is thought to be partly because these voices were the ones closest to the foetus during pregnancy, and partly because they are slightly higher pitched. Babies prefer higher pitched voices. Have you noticed yourself using a higher voice when speaking to small children?
• Prepare your home for the child's imminent arrival. Create space for the baby, both mentally and physically. Preparing the physical space can help you imagine the little baby. Some people find this a useful way to prepare for parenthood. You might buy some items of baby clothing. Or a cradle or bed for the baby to sleep in. A pram and a changing table with nappies and other things you'll need right from the start.
• Has the expecting mother written a birth plan describing what she wants to happen during the labour? You can write one too, or read about childbirth and imagine how you would like to be involved in it.
Do you have any specific worries? Can you practise a skill that might come in useful during labour, such as massage? Do you imagine yourself cutting the umbilical chord?
Although only one of you is pregnant, both of you are expecting. Make the most of this journey together.
Here you can read about planning a home birth or being assisted by a labour coach or doula.