There will be lots for dads-to-be to think about in the second trimester including planning, attending antenatal classes and more.
Once the initial excitement of becoming pregnant has dissipated, you are into a long planning process for the baby’s arrival. While some parts of this are fun, such as deciding on names, you may also be worrying about money, what kind of dad you will be, and your relationship.
You’ve had the dating scan and your partner will have a more pronounced bump and look more obviously pregnant in the second trimester. At about 16 weeks, the baby’s limbs and organs are fully formed. Morning sickness may have eased off and mum-to-be may have a new burst of energy. At the same time, she could have developed some strange cravings for certain foods or smells.
While you are probably more excited about the pregnancy now, you may also find that as the reality of fatherhood looms you have some jitters. Having different emotions about becoming a dad is a common experience and one that you should not keep to yourself.
From about 16 weeks, it is possible to tell the sex of the baby. Whether or not you find out is a decision you need to make together. You may be able to do so during the 20-week scan, also known as the anomaly scan.
Seeing the baby onscreen is a great moment, but the serious side to the scan is that it can reveal any problems with the major organs as well as any other conditions.
The joy of seeing your baby, the possibility of having to support your partner – and cope yourself – if there is bad news is another reason you should try and be at this scan.
If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to get enrolled on antenatal classes. Your local midwife or hospital will run these and they are usually free. NCT also runs antenatal courses in most areas. See if there are any classes in your area.
Even if you are already a dad, or have been reading about pregnancy and labour, classes give you the chance to refresh your memory, and ask about things that you don’t understand. Classes will cover topics in more detail and provide more practical preparation for labour and parenthood. They will also look more closely at feelings about pregnancy and birth, preparing for life with a new baby and birthing positions.
Classes are important for fathers in other ways too.
- You will meet couples who may well become lifelong friends. There will be many times in the future that you will be desperate to talk to someone who can swap experiences, advice and sympathy.
- During labour one of the most important things a dad can do is to remain a calm and relaxing presence for his partner. Antenatal classes will prepare you for what’s ahead, and provide reassurance if you are nervous about the birth. The more you know about what will happen, the better prepared you will be.
- Classes also underline some of the choices that are open to you in terms of the type of birth your partner wants, pain relief and what can happen if things are not going to plan. This is all information that you can see when it comes to writing your birth plan.
Don’t hang back at this stage. Get involved in as many ways as you can – attending classes, reading up on being pregnant, and talking to other parents. It will prepare you for the months ahead.
Ensuring you have sorted out your finances and work life before your baby arrives will be one big worry off your mind. If you haven’t already told your manager at work, now is a good time, especially if you are thinking of asking about more flexible working arrangements.
Some dads now take over as chief carer, allowing mum to return to work, or parents may share the load by adopting flexible working patterns. Your employer has to seriously consider an application for flexible working and can only reject it on business grounds.
Different employers may have more or less generous set ups in place for dads, but legally you are entitled to two weeks paternity pay. This is applicable to the baby’s biological father, the husband or the partner, including a same sex partner providing they expect to have responsibility for bringing up the child.
Money worries can be a big concern and it is easy to feel pressured to buy lots of new things in preparation for the baby’s arrival. In the first instance, baby’s requirements are fairly small – somewhere to sleep, some baby gros, nappies, blankets, a car seat (if you have a car) and a pram or buggy.
If you have children already, re-use the baby items, or ask family and friends for theirs. You can also buy them for a fraction of the new cost at NCT’s Nearly New Sales. Websites such as Freecycle are also a great source of free second-hand baby items, and can be used to recycle them when you no longer require them.
Some research suggests that babies learn to recognise certain sounds while still in the womb. Help your partner by massaging oil or cream into her bump, and talk or sing to the baby at the same time.
NCT's helpline offers practical and emotional support with all aspects of being pregnant, birth and early parenthood: 0300 330 0700. We also offer antenatal courses which are a great way to find out more about birth, labour and life with a new baby.
Directgov has information on paternity leave and outlines what you are entitled to along with your full rights.
Freecycle is a good source of second-hand baby items.