[...] if you’re willing to put in the time and effort, you’ll be able to have—and maintain—an active, involved relationship with your children. Here are some things you can do:
• Get off your butt. If you don’t start taking the initiative, you’ll never be able to assume the child-rearing responsibilities you want—and that your kids deserve. So instead of letting your partner pluck a crying or smelly baby from your arms, try saying something like, “No, honey, I can handle this,” or “That’s okay; I really need the practice.” There’s nothing wrong with asking her for advice if you need it—you both have insights that the other could benefit from. But have her tell you instead of doing it for you.
• Get some practice. Don’t assume that your partner magically knows more than you do. Whatever she knows about raising kids, she’s learned by doing—just like anything else. And the way you’re going to get better is by doing things too. Research has shown, for example, that lack of opportunity may be one of the biggest obstacles to fathers’ being more affectionate with their children. Once they get to hold them, fathers are at least as affectionate with their children—cooing at, looking at, holding, rocking, and soothing them—as their partners are. (So much for the stereotype about men being emotionally distant by nature.)
• Don’t devalue the things you like doing with the kids. As discussed in the preceding chapter, men and women generally have different ways of interacting with their children; both are equally important to your child’s development. So don’t let anyone tell you that wrestling, playing “monster,” or other “guy things” are somehow not as important as the “girl things” your partner may do (or want you to do).
• Get involved in the day-to-day decisions that affect your kids’ lives. This means making a special effort to share with your partner such responsibilities as meal planning, cooking, food and clothes shopping, taking the kiddies to the library or bookstore, getting to know their friends’ parents, and planning playdates. Not doing these things can give the impression that you don’t think they’re important or that you’re not interested in being an active parent. And by doing them, you make it more likely that your partner will feel comfortable and confident in sharing the nurturing role with you. But try to log some private, “quality” time with the kids too. Sure, somebody has to schlep the kids all over town—to doctor appointments, ballet lessons, or soccer practice—but that shouldn’t be the only contact you have with them.
• Keep communicating. If you don’t like the status quo, let your partner know. But be gentle. If at first she seems reluctant to share the role of parent with you, don’t take it too personally. Men aren’t the only ones whom society has done a bad job of socializing. “Many women have been raised to believe that if they aren’t the primary caregivers (even if they work outside the home as well), they’ve somehow failed as mothers. A 2010 study done at the University of Texas at Austin found that the more involved dads are with their children, the lower the mother’s self-esteem. “We believe that employed mothers suffer from self-competence losses when their husbands are involved and skillful because those mothers may consider that it is a failure to fulfill cultural expectations,” said Takayuki Sasaki, the lead researcher. If your partner works outside the home, you might want to remind her of what the late Karen DeCrow, a former president of the National Organization for Women (NOW), once told me: “Until men are valued as parents, the burden of child-rearing will fall primarily to women and frustrate their efforts to gain equality in the workplace.”
• If you’re in a position to do something for other men, do it. All things being equal, try hiring a male babysitter once in a while. Or consider asking a male friend instead of the usual women friends to do some babysitting when you and your wife want a night out. If you need to ease yourself into it, try the responsible teenage son of some friends. Continuing not to trust men and boys will keep men and boys thinking of themselves as untrustworthy and will make it difficult for them to be comfortable enough in their role as parent to take on as much responsibility as they—and their partners—would like.
• Get your partner to be your publicist. Pamela Jordan writes that “men tend not to be perceived as parents in their own right by their mates, co-workers, friends or family. They are viewed as helpmates or breadwinners.” The cure? “The mother can mitigate the exclusion of the father by others by including the father in the pregnancy and parenting experiences and actively demonstrating her recognition of him as a key player,” Jordan says.
• Get some support. Even before your baby is born, you’re likely to become aware of the vast number of support groups for new mothers. It won’t take you long to realize, however, that there are few, if any, groups for new fathers. And if you find one, it will probably be geared toward men whose contact with their kids is limited to five minutes before bedtime.
Despite the many obstacles, some of us have risked our careers and jeopardized our finances to try to break through the “other glass ceiling” that keeps us at work and away from our families. But in many cases, when we finally get home, we run smack into another barrier—this one imposed by none other than our partners.
Although most mothers feel that fathers should play an important role in the kids’ lives, research has shown that they want that role to be “not quite as important as Mom’s.” In fact, researchers in one nationwide study found that two out of three women seem threatened by equal participation and may themselves be “subtly putting a damper on men’s involvement with their children because they are so possessive of their role as primary nurturer.” Bottom line? As I’ve said before, like it or not, you’ll be as involved with your children as your partner will let you be. The more encouraging and supportive she is, the more you’ll do.
THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN BOYS AND GIRLS
Back in the 1970s and 1980s, all the politically correct people insisted that there were no real differences between boys and girls—except for the obvious anatomical ones, of course. Any behavioral differences were supposedly the result of socialization, and were imposed on children by their parents and their environment. But in the past few years, researchers have started questioning this theory, and their answers are confirming what most parents have always known: boys and girls are just not the same. And the differences may even be present in our children’s brains before they’re born. Here’s what we know:
• Within hours of birth, girls are much more interested in people and faces, while boys seem just as happy looking at an object dangled in front of them, says Ann Moir, Ph.D., author of Brain Sex. At only four months, girls can tell the difference between photographs of people they know from those of strangers; boys can’t.
• The same applies to toys. When given a choice of two objects to look at—a doll or a toy truck—three-month-old girls tend to prefer the doll and boys prefer the truck, according to researcher Germaine Alexander. At a year old, boys prefer mechanical motion over human, choosing to watch windshield wipers going back and forth over people talking. Girls choose just the opposite.
• Infant boys and girls are hardwired to imitate adults. But even at three hours old, girls are better mimics than boys.
• Boys tend to take in less sensory data than girls, according to gender roles researcher Carole Beal. They’re generally less discriminating when it comes to food, and less sensitive to touch and pain. They also hear worse in one ear than the other, meaning they don’t pick up background noises as well as girls can, which may explain why your parents always thought you were ignoring them when you were little. It may also account for why girls typically learn to speak before boys do, usually by a month or two.
A COUPLE OF WARNINGS
• Never shake your child. This can make their little brains rattle around inside their skulls, causing bruises or permanent injuries (commonly referred to as Shaken Baby syndrome).
• Never throw the baby up in the air. Yes, your father may have done it to you, but he shouldn’t have. It looks like fun but can be extremely dangerous and just isn’t worth the risk. Even small bumps can cause concussions, which we now know can have serious, negative long-term consequences.
PLAYING WITH YOUR BABY
You might not think that you can play with your newborn, but you can—and should. Playing with your child is one of the most important things you can do with him or her. Kids learn just about everything they need to know from playing. And to top it off, it’s fun for you too. In general, babies love physical play, and by the time they’re just a few days old, they’ve already learned which of their parents will play with them which way—and they’ll react accordingly. Here are some important things to keep in mind about playing:
• As a rule, men and women have different play styles. Women tend to stress the social and emotional type of play, while men are much more physical and high-energy. Neither kind of parent-child interaction is truly better than the other—each is different and indispensable, and there’s no point in trying to compare or rate them. Ross Parke and others have found that playful dads seem to have smarter kids than dads who don’t play with their kids as much—they’re better at math and score higher on intelligence tests. Physical play—particularly the dad kind—helps encourage kids’ independence. Both boys and girls who are exposed to high levels of physical play are more popular among their peers and more assertive (in a good way) in their interactions later in life. They also do a better job of reading others’ emotional cues and regulating their own emotions than kids who don’t get as much chance to play.
• Pay attention. Even though your baby is nowhere near being able to catch a fly ball, sink a jumper, or even hold on to a rattle, you can still have fun together. Take all that wild arm and leg flailing. Surprisingly, it has a real purpose, as do many of the baby’s other natural reflexes. The arm swinging, for example, may be a protective device designed to push dangerous things away. And you’ve probably noticed that your baby starts sucking the second anything—finger, nipple, thumb—gets in her mouth. This reflex helps ensure that they get nourishment in the days and weeks before they learn how to control their sucking muscles.
• Use moderation. It’s perfectly fine to play with a baby as young as a few days old, but restrict each session to five minutes or so. Too much playing can make your child fussy or irritable.
• Start simple. Imitation games are a good beginning. Stick your tongue out or make an O with your mouth, hold it for a few seconds, and see if the baby will do the same.
• Take your cues from the baby. If you pay attention, your baby will give you some pretty strong hints about whether he’s interested in playing or would rather not. If he tries to raise his head, turns to look at you, or his eyes and face look bright, this is a good time to interact together. If he cries, squirms a lot, looks away from you, seems bored, or his face and eyes look glazed over, stop what you’re doing and take a break.
• Put on some music. Doesn’t matter what kind, but try to expose the baby to a nice variety. Baby ears are pretty sensitive to noise, so keep the volume low, particularly if you have a preemie.
• Schedule your fun. The best time for physical play is when the baby is active and alert; reading and other calmer activities are best when the baby is quietly alert. Choose a time when your full attention can be devoted to the baby—no phone calls or other distractions. Finally, don’t play too vigorously with the baby immediately after feeding. Believe me—I learned the hard way.
• Get comfortable. Find a place where you can get down to the baby’s level—preferably on your back or stomach on the floor or bed.
• Be patient. As mentioned above, your baby is not a trained seal—don’t expect too much too soon. And certainly don’t expect him to perform on cue.
• Be encouraging. Use lots of facial and verbal encouragement—smiles, laughter. Although the baby can’t understand the words, he or she definitely understands the feelings. Even at only a few days old, your baby will want to please you, and lots of encouragement will build his or her self-confidence.
• Be gentle—especially with the baby’s head. Because babies’ heads are relatively large (one-quarter of their body size at birth vs. one-seventh by the time they’re adults) and their neck muscles aren’t very well developed yet, their heads tend to be floppy for the first few months. Be sure to support the head—from behind—at all times, and avoid sudden or jerky motions.
The stereotypical image people have of postpartum sex is that the moms don’t want to and the dads are getting blue balls. Turns out that’s not true. That same drop in testosterone that Anne Storey identified leaves many new dads less interested in sex. And sometimes those birth images are hard to shake. But according to University of Michigan researcher Sari van Anders, couples’ lack of sexual desire wasn’t necessarily related to what she eloquently calls “messy vaginas.” In fact, the most common reasons for low sexual desire are fatigue, stress, not having enough time, and the baby’s sleeping habits.
Since two-thirds of SIDS babies don’t fall into any of the highest-risk categories, there are a few things you can do to minimize the risk:
• Put your baby to sleep on his back. Experts used to think that babies who slept on their backs would choke on their vomit if they spit up. Turns out that’s not true—babies are smart enough to turn their heads. People also preferred to put their babies on their tummies as a way to avoid getting a bald or flat spot on the back of the head. Now we know that tummy sleeping may double or triple the risk. Since the Back to Sleep campaign began, SIDS deaths have dropped 43 percent. One thing, though: babies who sleep on their backs don’t get to exercise their arms as much and take longer to learn to push themselves up and roll over. So make sure your baby spends plenty of his awake time on his belly working out that upper body.
• Don’t smoke, and don’t let anyone who does near your baby. While it’s not possible to say that smoking directly increases SIDS risk, there does seem to be a connection.
• Don’t overdress the baby (see page 267).
• Put the baby to sleep on a firm mattress: no pillows, fluffy blankets, plush sofas, waterbeds, shag carpets, or beanbags. The crib mattress should fit snugly into the crib so the baby can’t slip in between it and the frame. And take out anything else, such as stuffed animals or extra blankets that might accidentally cover the baby.
• Breastfeed. As with not smoking, while there’s no definitive proof that breastfeeding actually reduces the risk, there seems to be a connection.
• Give your baby a pacifier. No one is sure why, but there’s a lot of evidence that pacifiers reduce the risk. Wait until breastfeeding is well established before starting with the pacifier. And if it falls out of the baby’s mouth, leave it alone—there’s no need to try to jam it back in there.
• Don’t panic. Although losing a child to SIDS is a devastating, horrible experience for any parent, remember that 999 out of 1,000 babies don’t die of it.
Despite everything you’ve heard about how gorgeous babies are, you may have a slightly different opinion—at least for the first week or so after your baby is born. If your baby was born vaginally, the trip through the birth canal may have flattened his nose and made him look a little cone headed. Calm down. His nose will pop out and his head will get rounder over the next few months.
Do those green, tarlike bowel movements make you think there’s something wrong with the baby’s intestines? There isn’t. Those first few loads are normal and will be replaced by a much more pleasant-looking concoction as your baby starts breastfeeding. Is the baby’s skin splotchy—especially on the neck and the eyelids—and does she have strange-looking birth marks or tiny pimples? Relax. Just keep her clean—no scrubbing or zit popping—and she’ll be fine. Does your infant seem a little cross-eyed? It’s fine. As soon as his eye muscles get a bit more developed and coordinated, he’ll be able to look you straight in the eye. Do his hairy back and shoulders have you worrying about what’ll happen to him when the moon is full? Don’t. That fuzz is called lanugo and it’ll fall out pretty soon. I’m mentioning all this because there’s a strong connection between depression and unmet expectations.
Here are a number of ways you can help your partner cope throughout the labor and delivery. Some of these are drawn from The Best Birth, which I wrote with childbirth educator Sarah McMoyler (see page 163 for more about her approach).
• Remind her to slow her breathing down. Just taking in long, deep breaths—inhale for five seconds, exhale for five seconds—can be very calming.
• Encourage her to moan during the contractions and rest in between. Screaming isn’t very effective in coping with pain, and neither is the patterned breathing taught in many childbirth prep systems. Instead, go for low, growly, guttural sounds—deep and loud—the kind of sounds you’d make if you tried to lift a car. This is no time to be dainty or to worry about what the people in the next room—or on the next floor—will think. They’re probably making plenty of noises of their own.
• Help her relax. People coping with pain often clench their jaws, make fists, tense their shoulders, or hold their breath. None of this helps. In fact, it does more harm than good.
• Get in her face and be direct. This may seem a little aggressive, but it really does work. In early labor, lock eyes with her and tell her what to do: unclench your jaw, un-fist your hands, drop your shoulders, breeeeeeathe … As labor progresses, skip the words and just show her what you want her to do by letting your body melt, unclenching, and moaning. Doing this is especially important between contractions. Staying tense—or tensing up in anticipation of the next uterus-wrenching contraction—will make it harder for her to recover during those all-too-brief breaks.
• Offer sips of water, ice chips, and cold compresses.
• Offer a massage. Back, hands, feet, or whatever she’d like (if she wants anything at all). Sometimes, when massage is annoying, sustained counter-pressure can be just the ticket. Ask her which helps more: high or low on the back, or closer to the tailbone.
• Verbal anesthesia. Tell her she’s doing a great job—it means a lot more coming from you than from a nurse she doesn’t know. Simple things like “Great job!” or “Stay with it” are remarkably effective.
• Make sure she hits the bathroom at least once every hour. If she’s not peeing that often, she’s not drinking enough.
• Get her up and moving around. Being upright, if at all possible, makes gravity kick in and help the baby descend. Walking around keeps her body in motion and maximizes the effect that relaxin (a hormone that does just that) can have on the pelvic joints. You may be able to do this during the contractions in early labor. But once she’s deep into active labor, do it between contractions.
By now, your partner has probably experienced plenty of Braxton-Hicks contractions (“false labor”), which have been warming up her uterus for the real thing. Sometimes, however, these practice contractions may be so strong that your partner may think that labor has begun. The bottom line is that when real labor starts, your partner will probably know it. (This may sound strange, especially if she is carrying her first child. Nevertheless, the majority of mothers I’ve spoken to have told me it’s true.)
[...] remember the words of obstetrician J. Milton Huston of New York Hospital: “In all of my years of practice, I’ve never seen a baby stay in there.
If she hasn’t stopped working, encourage her to do so. Especially if she doesn’t like her job. In a recent study of women in southern California, researchers found that those who took leave in the last month of pregnancy (starting around three to four weeks before delivery) had a C-section rate that was four times lower than women who didn’t take leave. And while she’s on leave, encourage her to get plenty of sleep. Exhaustion during the final weeks of the pregnancy also increases the C-section rate.
Your partner’s increased dependency is considered a “normal” part of pregnancy. But thanks to the ridiculous, gender-specific way we socialize people in this country, men are supposed to be independent, strong, supportive, and impervious to emotional needs—especially while their partners are pregnant. So, just when you’re feeling most vulnerable and least in control, your needs are swept under the rug. And what’s worse, the one person you most depend on for sympathy and understanding may be too absorbed in what’s going on with herself and the baby to do much for you.
This results in what Dr. Luis Zayas calls an “imbalance in interdependence,” which leaves the father to satisfy his own emotional needs and those of his partner. In addition, in many cases this imbalance essentially becomes a kind of vicious circle that “accentuates the stress, intensifies feelings of separation, and heightens dependency needs.” In other words, the less response you get to your dependency needs, the more dependent you feel.
Kids who grow up with disposable diapers tend to become potty-trained later than those who use cloth, because the disposables do such a great job of sucking up moisture that babies have no real incentive to get out of them.
Please remember that when acquiring anything for your baby, safety should be your primary concern. Before you spend a fortune on Queen Victoria’s original bassinet or drag out the crib that you (or your parents or grandparents) slept in as a kid, consider this: your baby will do just about everything possible to jeopardize his or her own life (and scare the hell out of you), from sticking his head between the bars of the crib and throwing himself off tall changing tables to burying herself under a pile of blankets left in the corner.
Dude, it’s not just about Mom. Over the years, I’ve interviewed many men whose experiences were very similar to mine. Generally speaking, they felt all but left out by the instructors, who focused almost exclusively on the mothers. Of course, that’s important. But she’s not the only one becoming a parent. As British researchers John Lee and Virginia Schmied put it, “Men are not present at the birth solely to support women—they are there in their own right, as father of the child.” Sure, guys learn some important things, but with their concerns all but ignored, they usually walk out feeling more like mommy’s little helper than dads.
ROWE (Results-Only Work Environment). Basically you work whenever, wherever, and however you want—as long as you get the job done. This option can only work if your employer is not only incredibly flexible but also incredibly clear on what you’re supposed to accomplish. At the same time, you have to be extremely well organized and self-directed.
If you’ve had a suspicion that your partner seems, well, a little more odiferous lately, you’re probably right. A pregnant woman’s digestive system operates a lot more slowly than yours, which means that everything she eats has more time to ferment. For beer, wine, cheese, and bread, fermenting is a good thing. But in humans, it causes gas. And the longer the fermenting goes on, the smellier the farts. Your partner may try to cover it up by blaming it on the dog or the sewage treatment plant just down the road. But you can disarm the situation by simply saying, “Thank you.” According to some new research about farting (yes, amazingly, there is such a thing), hydrogen sulfide, the stuff that gives rotten eggs—and farts—their delightful aroma, may offer some significant health benefits, including reducing blood pressure, improving survival rates for victims of stroke or heart attacks, and treating diabetes, arthritis, and dementia. Beans, anyone?
I had already done a lot of reading, but I felt I still didn’t know what fathers are really supposed to do. Doesn’t it seem a little strange—scary, really—that you need a license to sell hot dogs on the street or to be a beautician, but there are absolutely no prerequisites for the far more important job of being a father?
Some men express their financial worries by becoming obsessed with their jobs, their salaries, the size of their homes, even the rise and fall of interest rates. Expectant fathers frequently work overtime or take on a second job; others may become tempted by lottery tickets or get-rich-quick schemes. Clearly, a new baby (and the associated decrease in household income while the mother is off work) can have a significant impact on the family’s finances. But as real as they are, write Libby Lee and Arthur D. Colman (authors of Pregnancy: The Psychological Experience), men’s financial worries “often get out of proportion to the actual needs of the family. They become the focus because they are something the man can be expected to handle. The activity may hide deeper worry about competence and security.” In other words, calm down.
If you think about this, it makes perfectly good sense. Right now, besides being in a relationship together, you and your partner have your own individual lives, hobbies, friends, jobs, and interests. You’re both growing and developing as people—as individuals and as a couple. That’s what has made you the lovable guy you are and the lovable woman she is. But once your baby shows up, you’re going to be making an abrupt change to the all-baby-all-the-time channel, constantly thinking about, talking about, and doing things with your baby. All that personal growth stuff is going out the window, at least for a while.
The cure for this is to set aside fifteen minutes every day to talk about something, anything, other than the baby. I know this sounds awfully simple, but if you get into the habit now, while your life is still relatively calm, you’ll be taking a huge step toward keeping your relationship fresh. It really does work, and making a commitment to doing it every day is absolutely critical. The more satisfied you feel in your relationship before you have children, according to researchers Chih-Yuan Lee and William Doherty, the more time you’ll spend with your child during the first year of his or her life.
Perhaps the most bizarre couvade ritual I’ve come across is one that enabled dads-to-be to literally share the pain of childbirth. Apparently, the Huichol people of Mexico used to position the dad in a tree or on the roof above his laboring wife. Ropes were tied around his testicles and with each contraction she could yank on the ropes and give her husband a taste of what she was going through. Seems a little much to me, but I’m sure there are plenty of women who would disagree.
While there’s nothing that can be done to prepare for or prevent a miscarriage, telling your partner how you feel—either alone or with a member of the clergy, a therapist, or a close friend—is very important. And don’t just sit back and wait for her to tell you what she’s feeling. Take the initiative: be supportive and ask a lot of questions.
Avoid the temptation to try to “fix” things.
Some good friends of mine, Philip and Elaine, had a miscarriage several years ago, after about twelve weeks of pregnancy. For both of them, the experience was devastating, and for months after the miscarriage they were besieged by sympathetic friends and relatives, many of whom had found out about the pregnancy only after it had so abruptly ended. They asked how Elaine was feeling, offered to visit her, expressed their sympathy, and often shared their own miscarriage stories. But no one—not even his wife—ever asked Philip what he was feeling, expressed any sympathy for what he was going through, or offered him a shoulder to cry on.
There’s no guaranteed way to prevent preeclampsia, but there are a few things that could reduce the risk. Staying well hydrated, cutting back on salt, and getting enough exercise may help your partner keep her blood pressure under control. So can increasing her fiber intake. One study found that women who ate over 25 grams of fiber every day cut their risk by 50 percent. And in one of the greatest pieces of good news for pregnant women, Elizabeth Triche and her colleagues found that “women who had five or more servings of chocolate each week in their third trimester were 40 percent less likely to develop preeclampsia than those who ate chocolate less than once a week.” Apparently, there’s a chemical in chocolate, theobromine, that dilates blood vessels and reduces blood pressure. But do you really think your partner needs an excuse to eat more chocolate?
Learn to cook simple, quick meals. There are plenty of cookbooks specializing in meals that can be made in less than thirty (or twenty or ten!) minutes. Easier yet, there are quite a few blogs and websites that can help. I like realfoodbydad.com, www.stayatstovedad.com, cookingfordads.net, and dadcooksdinner.com.
Here’s a great example of what happens when people get something only half right. Remember what I said about smoking causing low-birth-weight babies? Well, in Great Britain, smoking during pregnancy—especially among teen girls—is disturbingly common. These young girls somehow got the idea into their head that having a smaller baby would make labor and delivery less painful. What they didn’t understand was that low birth weight is only the beginning. Smoking also increases the odds of miscarriage, birth defects, stillbirth, and premature birth. Babies born too soon have a higher risk of all sorts of problems later in life: respiratory illness, cerebral palsy, mental retardation, and heart problems, just to name a few. And they often go through nicotine withdrawal right after birth, just like crack babies. It also affects the mom, by increasing her risk of developing placental previa (where the placenta covers the opening to the uterus) and placenta abruption (where the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus before delivery), as well as of going into labor prematurely. Am I scaring you? I sure as hell hope so.
Most e-cigs use liquid nicotine, which, besides being addictive, can cause high blood pressure and other heart-related issues in your wife, and can reduce blood flow to the placenta, potentially doing permanent damage to your baby. E-cigs may also contain propylene glycol, which, when heated, can turn into a powerful carcinogen. They also produce nanoparticles, which can irritate the lungs and aggravate asthma and other lung issues.
If she was overweight before getting pregnant, this is not the time to go on a diet. At the same time, the fact that she’s “eating for two” is not a license to eat anything she wants. In fact, a growing body of solid research is finding that what a woman eats while she’s pregnant can directly—and permanently—affect the baby’s long-term health and risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and other diseases.
Overdoing it. If she can’t carry on a normal conversation while exercising, she’s working too hard.
[...] there’s Canadian neuroscientist Dave Ellemberg, who found that compared to couch-potato expectant moms, pregnant women who did twenty minutes of moderate exercise (leading to slight shortness of breath by the end) three times per week had babies with “more mature cerebral activation.” Translation: their brains developed more quickly. Ellemberg believes that those babies could “acquire speech more rapidly” and reach developmental milestones sooner.
The rationale was simple: the more you understand about what you’re going through, the better prepared you’ll be and the more likely you’ll be to take an interest in—and stay involved throughout—the pregnancy. Research has shown that the earlier fathers get involved (and what could be earlier than pregnancy?), the more likely they are to be involved after their children are born. And that’s good for your child, good for you, and good for your relationship with your child’s mother.