Pregnancy is an amazing, scary, beautiful, anxiety-inducing, nine-month ride...for both moms-to-be and dads-to-be alike. If only we all could have a little first-hand knowledge before we're expecting for the first time! To that end, we asked dads to share the lessons they learned about pregnancy by experiencing it alongside their partner—and what they wish they'd known before their baby was born.
"You're going to be terrified, you're going to question everything you do and you're going to be perfectly fine. When my first son was coming along, my wife decided to have an at-home birth in our living room. I was perfectly okay with it because I know humans have done it for centuries. From the painting of the walls, furniture selection, carpeting, foods, car seats, insurance writers, availability, etc., I questioned everything I did and I was anxious until our fourth kid came along. You'll be just fine. I know it sounds cliché, but, in the end, you'll be fine." —Trave H.
"In the movies, a couple finds out they're pregnant and morning sickness follows. She eats peanut butter and pickles, gets bigger, her water breaks and the baby is born an hour later. My wife didn't have morning sickness, she refused my offer of peanut butter and pickles and gave birth about 24 hours after her water broke. We now have two kids and I've only just learned that each pregnancy is completely different, right up until birth. With our first, my wife's goal was to keep an open mind and attempt a drug-free childbirth. That was quickly abandoned when she had to be induced. Read the books, take the classes, but still expect the unexpected. It rarely goes according to plan." —James A.
"I'm married to a strong woman, but also I know that there are moments I'll be needed. However, during both pregnancies there were times of discomfort or pain that I couldn't mend. Being there physically is helpful, but there will be times when your partner just wants to be left alone. Don't take it personally—is she asks you for some space she just may need to handle things on her own." —Stuart C.
"During my wife's pregnancy, I learned she was incredibly sensitive to smells. My advice is to be careful with anything—and I mean anything—that can be fragrant. Once our dog farted in our bedroom and my wife instantly threw up from the smell! If I ate something at lunch with garlic or onions, she would smell it on my breath and become nauseous. I avoided cooking or ordering foods like curry. I had to put things away very quickly, like peanut butter jars, since she could smell it from across the house!" —Airto Z.
"During my wife's first pregnancy, she experienced severe morning sickness. Our ob-gyn told us it was common and would go away around 16-18 weeks. When we reached that period and it continued, she was diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum." —Sean H.
"When my wife was expecting I was focused on the physical things I'd eventually have to do for my kid. I never imagined the emotional grit I'd have to muster through (i.e. postpartum depression, kid illnesses, work troubles). Most men don't like talking about their emotions, but fatherhood requires talking about emotions. Otherwise it can be a pretty rough ride." —Patrick C.
"There are so many times during pregnancy that you're going to want to help your wife, and she's going to want you to help her, but she can't verbalize or even really come up with a way for you to help. Being familiar with her love language and having a default list of things you can do when you don't have clear instructions is key. In my case, when my wife couldn't tell me what she needed, I bought chocolate, cookies, put my phone in the other room and sat on the couch next to her while rubbing her back." —Raz S.
"I wouldn't say I'm the most romantic man in the world, but I certainly tried my best to take my then-girlfriend and now-wife out on at least three dates per month. When she got pregnant, however, I definitely slipped up. I knew she couldn't enjoy that glass of wine with her dinner that she always ordered and, well, I sort of assumed she'd prefer takeout instead. Now that we have a toddler I realize how much free time we could have taken advantage of while she was pregnant." —Trevor K.
"I remember being so nervous—about everything—when my wife was pregnant. I didn't think I could handle changing a diaper, let alone being a decent dad. I was so relieved when we had our first, because I felt comfortable and things fell into place (though it falls apart pretty quickly when you can't figure out why your baby's crying!). I do wish I tended to her worries and anxieties more when she was pregnant—she was just as nervous as me if not more!" —Dan H.