Q: My pregnant wife has been bugging me to go to all her doctor’s appointments during her pregnancy. I want to be an involved dad, but I can’t see any real reason for me to go to the doctor with her. Can’t I just find out about being a new father, what our infant needs, how to raise children, and so on, by reading books for parents? Why should I go?
A: Most guys-unless they’re hypochondriacs-don’t really look forward to seeing a doctor. And seeing someone else’s is even farther down their list of fun ways to spend a few hours. But going to your wife’s medical appointments is really important, for a number of reasons.
First, it’ll help you be a better dad once your baby is born. Guys who get involved early on and stay that way right to the end have been shown to be as connected with their babies as their expectant wives are.
Second, it’s a great opportunity to ask a lot of questions and to satisfy your curiosity about exactly what’s going on with your growing baby. Sure, you’ll be bored out of your mind some of the time, and yes, you may be able to get some answered by reading a few books, but being there will help make you much more of a participant in the whole thing and much less of a spectator.
Third, going to the OB will go a long way toward demystifying the process and making it more real. Hearing your baby’s heartbeat for the first time (in about the third month), and seeing his or her tiny body squirm on an ultrasound screen (in about the fifth month) are experiences that simply can’t be described. Words on a page just don’t do the trick; you just have to be there.
Fourth, as time goes on, your wife is going to be getting increasingly dependent on you and she’ll need more tangible evidence that you love her and that you’re really going to be there for her. Going to see her OB together isn’t quite as romantic as a candlelit dinner and dancing under the stars, but it’s still an ideal way to show her how committed you are and to remind her that she’s not going to be alone.
And finally, the more appointments you go to, the more seriously the OB and his or her staff will take you and the more they’ll support you in your efforts to stay involved.