For the past few years, I have accompanied future fathers in prenatal classes in Montreal. A nurse presents the general information and I take the future fathers aside for a little discussion amongst men. Future mothers and the nursing staff always wonder… What are they talking about? Hockey, cars, computers? What are future fathers thinking about? To answer this intriguing question, I have written this non-scientific article to summarize what I have gathered by talking with over a hundred of future fathers.
The future mother
The first thing men talk about is the expecting mother! Of course, all pregnant women are charming, touching, endearing and absolutely beautiful…! That being said, they sometimes have reactions that confuse the fathers-to-be: they cry at the sight of a Winnie-the-Pooh pyjama, their hormones are playing tricks on them and transform otherwise gentle women into raging lionesses, they start hating their bodies, etc. Here’s a sound advice for men: it’s always better to stay quiet when their spouse gets nauseated, has heartburn or back aches, gets sick, pees every half hour, speaks about babies 24/7…Let’s just say that this can shake up a future father!
Usually, the second topic to be discussed is sexuality. Can we still have sex? Will it hurt the baby? What are the best positions? Is it normal for her to have less desire? Is it normal for me to feel more desire? How long will it take for everything to go back to normal? Fathers-to-be often have a hard time discussing these things with their wife or girlfriend and find it comforting to talk with men and get information.
Experiencing a major lifestyle transformation worries men a lot. Will I still be able to play hockey three times a week? Go on fishing trips with friends? Get drunk and stay up until three in the morning? Invite my friends over? The classic question always is: How will I be able to work if I don’t sleep because of the baby?
Many men are convinced that their entire social life - or life itself - will be completely over once the baby is born. It is important to put things into perspective by telling them stories about fathers who have managed to maintain a balance between their personal and family lives. Men love to hear about quick-tips to help manage the family. Don’t forget that they love practical advice.
Expecting fathers also feel a lot of pressure to provide for their family. Therefore, if their professional or material situation does not please them, they will stress out about it and hardly ever talk about it with their spouse to avoid humiliation. This anxiety will put a distance between the women’s thoughts and emotions and their own as future fathers. Sharing these worries with other men can lift a huge weight off their shoulders.
Most men love talking about setting up the baby’s nursery because they feel in control over the situation. Men love concrete projects. This crucial step helps the future fathers understand what is happening since they can physically see the home changing. Even if the nursery’s colours are most often chosen by the future mothers and the shopping is done together, the nursery often remains the men’s responsibility!