Dads in the Military: Supporting a Pregnant Wife

My wife and I are expecting our first child. The problem is that I’m in the US Marine Corps on tour in Iraq. I have been here since the beginning of the pregnancy and I might not be there for the birth of our child. My wife is having a hard time doing this on her own and I feel that there’s nothing I can do to support her. I’m reading your book, The Expectant Father, which I find very helpful. But do you know of any resources that are specifically aimed at military dads and/or their families?

There are over 700,000 children under five in military families who are separated from their father or mother. As a former U.S. Marine myself, my heart goes out to all of them. Here are some great resources you and your wife can use to get the support you need. And because I know many military dads will be reading this column, I’m also including some tips on staying in touch with the kids and maintaining relationships while away. [Read more...]

Dads in the Military: Bonding before Birth

I’m in the military and I’m going to be sent overseas for at least a year. The problem is that my wife is pregnant and due to deliver right about the time I’m supposed to ship out. I can probably finagle things so that I’ll be here for the birth of our child, but the year abroad is unavoidable. What kinds of things can I do to try and bond with our infant early on, before I am deployed overseas? Equally important, are there things I can do to try and maintain a bond with such a young baby while I’m away?

What terrible timing. Try to spend every second you can with your baby as you possibly can before you have to ship out. You don’t need to plan any special activities with newborns-holding, changing, bottle-feeding (either formula or breast milk), reading to her, taking her out for walks, etc–the most mundane and basic stuff but that’s what relationships are based on.
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Miscarriage: Men Grieve Too

My wife just had a miscarriage. I’m trying to be as strong and supportive as I can but it’s affected me too. I wanted to be a dad so badly, and my wife really wanted to be a mom. We are both devastated. I want to talk to someone about what I’m going through but I’m feeling guilty about not focusing completely on my wife. What can I do?

Miscarriages, like the pregnancies they end, have almost always been thought of as having an emotional impact only on women. But this simply isn’t true. There’s no question that men don’t suffer the physical pain of a miscarriage, but our emotional pain can-and often is-as severe as women’s. Expectant dads, like expectant moms, have hopes and dreams and fantasies about their unborn children, and most of us feel a profound sense of grief when those hopes and dreams and fantasies are dashed. And like our wives, most men feel inadequate and guilty when a pregnancy ends prematurely.
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Smoking and Drinking While Pregnant

My wife is smoking while pregnant and is a recovering alcoholic—or at least she was. Her doctor told her to quit smoking immediately and forever and she promised she would. But just a few weeks later she started up again. And she’s started drinking again too. She says she’s only having a few glasses of wine but I’m going nuts with worry and I can’t understand why she would do this to our unborn baby. What can I do?

I generally don’t like to scare people but in cases like these it’s necessary. When a mother-to-be inhales cigarette smoke, her womb fills with carbon monoxide, nicotine, tar, and other gunk that keep the baby from getting the oxygen and nutrients he needs. Sounds healthy, doesn’t it? Your wife’s smoking increases the risk of low-birth-weight babies, miscarriage, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
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Dealing with Morning Sickness

My wife is two months pregnant and is nauseous pretty much all day long. Isn’t morning sickness supposed to be in the morning? Is there anything I can do to help her calm her stomach? Will her morning sickness last throughout the pregnancy? Does morning sickness hurt the baby?

About half of all pregnant women experience morning sickness. Despite the name, the nausea, heartburn, and vomiting can strike at any hour of the day. No one’s quite sure what causes morning sickness. Some suggest that it’s a reaction to the pregnant woman’s changing hormone levels. Others, such as researcher Margie Profet, suggest that morning sickness is the body’s natural way of protecting the growing fetus from "teratogins" (toxins that cause birth defects) and "abortifacients" (toxins that induce miscarriage). Either way, for most women morning sickness disappears after about the third month.
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Workouts To Do With Your Wife

My wife is pregnant and I’d really like to work out with her. I have always been a bit of a jock, and I think it would be good for her to get some exercise too, but I’m worried that it might hurt the baby. Are there any exercises that are safe for us to do together?

If she’s already in good shape and her doctor approves, there’s no reason she can’t keep doing pretty much what she’s been doing. If she wasn’t a regular exerciser, this isn’t the time to take up rock climbing or start training for a marathon. At the same time, she shouldn’t plan on spending the entire pregnancy on the sofa. The key is to start easy and not push her if you see she’s feeling winded or tired.
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