A man’s role during his partner’s pregnancy and the subsequent birth is crucial to the health and happiness of both mother and baby. His role is underlined even more when deciding to bank the baby’s stem cells.
Pregnancy is an exhilarating time for an expectant mother, even as her body undergoes dramatic changes and she encounters new challenges regularly. The changes are sometimes difficult for first time mothers, because they do not know what is ‘normal’ during the pregnancy and what requires a doctor’s immediate assistance. Hence, pregnancy can be frightening and joyful all at once.
The myriad of emotions a woman goes through are compounded if she has to work through the pregnancy alone, without much assistance from her partner. However, it must be stated that a man certainly cannot comprehend the bodily changes his partner goes through, and hence, he may not be immediately empathetic towards the same. He may understand that his partner feels afraid, nauseous, heavy and moody all the time. But a careful study of what a woman’s body goes through (and why) and how she needs assistance to alleviate the many symptoms of pregnancy can help her sail through one of the most testing times in her life.
As we celebrate Father’s day, here are some tips for all would-be fathers to ease their transition into fatherhood.
Understanding the changes
Start by researching how the foetus develops in the mother’s body week after week. You will be astounded to learn that the unborn baby grows every single week and his progress can be charted through a sonogram or ultrasound. From a pinhead size to larger than a melon, the baby – and his mother – progress through the various growth stages together.
In the early weeks, the woman can feel tired all the time, as well as suffer frequent bouts of nausea. Certain smells and tastes can make her vomit, so know what these are and help her avoid them at all costs. Most women feel their energy returning in the second trimester, after which they are able to cook, clean, go grocery shopping, attend office and do all the things they have always done. However, it is nice to ease the strain on her by taking on these chores – lifting heavy bags will ease her back, doing the cooking will keep her away from smells that nauseate her, and going shopping, handling the laundry, and letting her sleep for longer periods of time will keep her healthy for longer.
If necessary, you can take her out for walks or help her in her exercises. Your involvement will keep her motivated and she will feel supported as well. The same applies to her doctor’s visits – accompany her whenever you can so that you can get first-hand information on her pregnancy and the baby’s vitals. Plus, you can ask any questions you have that will help both mother and child get through the pregnancy better. Learn her medication chart and replenish her meds when needed so that she does not need to make frequent pharmacy runs.
Banking the baby’s stem cells
This is an area that requires the father’s involvement because the woman cannot decide to do this alone. The parents must decide together if they wish to opt for their baby’s stem cells preservation. The father must conduct due research on the subject, even visit a few private cord blood banks if necessary. The decision to preserve the baby’s stem cells must be taken after due consideration of many factors – is there an incurable genetic condition in the family, and which can be treated with stem cells in the future? Or does the couple wish to bank the cord blood cells for the baby’s sibling or a close relative? Or does the couple simply wish for their child to have a healthy life, free of many types of serious cancers, haematological (blood-related) and immune-deficiency disorders? Umbilical cord blood cells show great promise in treating as many as 80 serious disorders, and the list of stem cell treatable diseases is ever growing, so both parents need to choose the right cord blood bank and authorise their attending physician to collect the cord blood immediately after the baby’s birth.
When choosing a cord blood bank, research their various plans and study each bank’s agreement carefully. If possible, visiting their cryogenic storage facilities would be a good idea. The blood bank stores the unit of cord blood stem cells for a period of 21 years against an annual fee. If at a future date, there is a diagnosis within immediate family members which is treatable using stem cells, the parents can retrieve the cord blood unit with written authorisation from their doctor.
Helping after the birth
The birth process is gruelling enough, but the mother’s body takes days to slowly return to normal. The uterus contracts slowly and may cause some amount of mild cramping and discomfort. Some women also undergo postpartum depression, which might make them morose and tearful all the time. It is advisable that the male partner takes on the baby’s responsibilities as early as possible.
Getting the baby adjusted to her new life, spending long periods of time with her so that she is happy to be picked up and comforted and attending to her during the night if she cries will all help the woman rest and recoup after the pregnancy. Other duties include preparing nutritious meals for the woman so that her body recovers well and she is able to generate sufficient milk for the infant. She might also need assistance in other chores around the house – taking care of the house while she attends to the baby is very helpful. While she may not appreciate the man treating her like an invalid, it is enough to know that he is at hand to help her when she needs him.