HED:Mate’s support needed before, during, after pregnancy
By M. Scott Morris
Longtime entertainer Carol Burnett compared childbirth to taking someone’s lower lip and pulling it all the way over their head.
By all accounts, pregnancy is no tour of pleasures either. With weight gain, morning sickness and other physiological changes associated with bringing a child into the world, mothers must bear the pain and inconvenience that keeps our species alive.
“During and after pregnancy women will go through all kinds of hormonal shifts,” said Bo Grace, one of the “veteran” dads at North Mississippi Medical Center’s inaugural Boot Camp for New Dads. “Things will happen that do not make sense, but you have to realize it doesn’t have to make sense.”
If ever a woman needed the support of her husband, bringing a child into the world is that time, Grace said.
“We get this mindset that marriage is a 50/50 proposition, but it’s not. Sometimes you have to do 100 percent,” Grace said.
That’s not to say men have it completely easy. Knowledge that there’s a new mouth to feed can add to a new father’s pressure to perform at work. It can be a struggle to leave those concerns at the office, said Jim Homan, veteran father of two children.
“I don’t care how hard of a day you have at work. If your wife is staying home with the new baby, you’ve been at a country club all day as far as she’s concerned,” Homan said.
Putting in extra time with the housework will help, but it’s not going to be enough. Besides, Grace said, “you can forget about a clean house when you start having kids.”
Sometimes, one of the most important things you can do to help your wife is give her free time. John Dudas, a father of two, makes a point to collect his infant son Zachary as soon as he comes home from work.
Dudas also makes plans for weekend trips around town so his wife can have some time alone to go shopping, visit friends or whatever.
“I take the kids and say,’These are our plans. You can come if you want to,’ ” Dudas said.
The veteran fathers agreed no matter how precious little junior’s smile is, he still places a strain on the husband and wife relationship.
“Statistically speaking for whatever that’s worth most marriages decline in enjoyment with an additional member,” Homan said.
To guard against that happening, new parents need a chance to forget they are new parents, at least for a little while.
“You need to keep that relationship like a husband and wife relationship,” said George Hand, a father of three.
The veteran dads recommend having regular dates and other outings with your wife.
“I take my wife out to lunch on a weekly basis every Friday,” Grace said. “That can be a challenge with a new baby. We end up taking him with us, but at least we’re spending time together outside the home.”
You may feel guilty putting your needs ahead of your baby’s needs even for a little while, but babies will benefit in the long run when parents take steps to improve their marriage, Homan said.
“If they see you as a loving couple, a team, then the baby feels more secure,” Homan said. “That’s going to help them for the rest of their lives.”