Why expecting fathers need as much support as an expecting mum
Expecting fathers need the same support as an expecting mum and this can only be done by providing them with the same love and care
Becoming a new father can be quite a daunting task. After all, this phase of life brings with it immense responsibilities and the pressures of being an ideal parent. This leads to them needing as much psychological support as any expecting mother.
"Expecting fathers undergo immense stress and psychological pressure during a pregnancy. There was a time when they never wanted to be included in this phase. But now things have changed. Educated urban fathers-to-be want to share the load equally. They want to be an integral part of the pregnancy. Therefore, they need the same support as an expecting mum and this can only be done by providing them with the same love and care. After all, the child needs both father and mother," says prominent Delhi-based psychologist, Anuja Kapur.
An expecting father's fears of pregnancy
She spoke exclusively to theIndusparent and explained why expecting fathers need as much support as the expecting mothers. Kapur says that apart from pressures of responsibilities, expecting fathers are also laden with the following fears during a pregnancy.
- Relationship fears
- Performance fears
- Paternity fears
- Morality fears
- Fear of the partner and child’s health
- Security fears
In many Indian households, it’s often seen that expecting fathers are not involved in a pregnancy because they are perhaps considered inexperienced and their 'primary' job is to earn and not to participate in household’s activities.
Kapur says, "The woman of the house also believes they will not be able to handle the pressures of a pregnancy. Since childhood, the husband has seen it as a woman's job and how men are usually kept away. But in today’s world, the mentality of the society has changed. Many fathers-to-be are happily coming forward and accepting and supporting the mum throughout her pregnancy. They equally take part in it and consider it their responsibility as well. They even look forward to go into the labour room and witness the most beautiful moment of their life."
Greater need to focus on men's psychological health during a pregnancy
"It’s about time that men should also be considered an integral part of this phase. They are also susceptible to experience panic attacks and psychological pressure. They too need to be guided, loved and nurtured as the mothers-to-be," says Kapur.
She adds that involving men in a pregnancy helps them in three different ways.
- They become responsible fathers
- They realise the pain the expecting mums are going through
- They become more sensitive and are able to give their support and love to their family in a whole new way
In fact, the government of India has a provision for paternity leave for its employees, keeping in mind the importance of their role in their newborn's life.
"In India, the Central Government in 1999 made provisions for paternity leave for a male Central Government employee who has less than two surviving children; for a period of 15 days. This is to take care of his wife and new born child. He can avail this leave 15 days before or within six months from the date of delivery of child," she says.
According to the provision for paternity leave, he shall be paid leave salary equal to the pay last drawn immediately before proceeding on leave. Also, the same rule applies when a child is adopted. "We must not forget that for a vulnerable new mother and her newly born child, father is the most important person to be around," says Kapur.
Continue reading to know how expecting fathers can ease through the pregnancy without any problem.
8 ways for expecting fathers to ease through a pregnancy
Kapur list the ways in which expecting fathers can be support or get the requisite support when needed to ease them out from anxiety during a pregnancy:
- Go for a counselling section
- Accompany your wife each time for her regular check-ups
- Direct your queries to the expert
- Read books and gather information related to the pregnancy and the baby's birth
- Take care of your diet and monitor your wives' as well
- Equally participate in the household chores
- Go for baby shopping and decorate the room for the new one
- Plan your expenses and think about future investments
How can families support expecting fathers?
Since dads play a very important role during the pregnancy phase, it is essential they even they are supported and feel confident about stepping into their new role. Therefore, family support is very important at this time. Kapur lists the following ways families can help expecting fathers:
- Families can physically support the expecting fathers and even the mothers by indulging in various activities like sitting with them, playing cards, watching movies, eating with them and spending quality time with them
- Emotional support by the family makes expecting fathers realise that they too are a part of this big change and they are being understood. This layer of emotional support for them can really shape their confidence throughout the pregnancy, and have a huge influence over their role as a father.
- Reassurance that all is going to be 'OK.' Expecting fathers should be reassured that the health of the mother and child will be just fine since experts are taking care of them. This will automatically decrease any unnecessary stress, which in turn makes for a much more positive labour and birth experience.
Kapur advises, "In my experience as a parent and a counsellor, expecting fathers should try to stay as calm as possible and research their way around the pregnancy. Also remember to share and explain your dilemma to your family members. These basics will help you be prepared for the baby and overcome any anxiety you may be facing through the pregnancy."
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