Health Library Home>Wellness Centers>Men's Health>Article

A Pregnancy Survival Guide for Men

Your wife's belly is swelling, baby furniture needs to be setup, and you have not had sex in weeks. Somehow, pregnancy is not exactly what you or your wife thought it would be. Your once loving, carefree wife has become cranky and nauseous. Welcome to the world of expectant fatherhood.

Getting ready for a baby creates a lot of change in one's lifestyle and environment. If you are wondering how you or your spouse will make it through the next 9 months, you are not alone.

The First Trimester: Hormones, Exhaustion, and Morning Sickness

Your wife may feel fine during the first few months of pregnancy or she may be exhausted and need a couple of naps a day. Her hormones are working hard to shape the new life she carries within her. Sad movies, baby clothes, or even a minor disagreement may lead to a crying spell. Hormonal shifts are temporary. Your wife's moods and emotions will return to normal.

Morning sickness affects only some women. It can also happen during the day or at night. Certain smells or foods may trigger nausea. Some men find that the sight or sound of their spouse getting sick is enough to send them running to the bathroom as well. Luckily, most women find that it goes away in 2 to 3 months.

Here's What You Can Do

For Your Wife

  • Help her find foods that do not cause problems for her. Ask her healthcare provider for advice. She will want to avoid foods that upset the stomach, such as those that are fried or spicy. Some women find that crackers, ginger ale, or lemonade help. Some women may find that an empty stomach causes nausea. Suggest eating frequent, smaller meals. Remind her to drink plenty of water during the day
  • Give your wife support. Do some research. Learn more about this problem and how to manage it. A nutritionist or healthcare provider can help.

For Yourself

  • Stay active. Stick to your weekly physical fitness routine and activities. Find a friend who enjoys the same sports or hobbies and get out of the house.
  • Talk to a trusted friend, such as one who is also a new dad. Or maybe even your own dad. You will be surprised that the concerns you may have are very common.

The Second Trimester: Sex? What's That?

Your wife's body will begin to change during this period. She may gain weight quickly and the baby will begin to make her belly larger. During this trimester, you will hear your baby's heart rate and be able to see your child on ultrasound.

Some fathers note that their wife's interest in sex changes during the second trimester. Each woman responds differently to the changes taking place inside her. Some women are easily aroused and want sex more often. Others may be too tired or worried that sex will harm the baby. There are no right or wrong approaches to your sex life.

Try to talk openly about the changes that are taking place. A woman may fear that her body is no longer sexy, which may affect her sex drive. Be honest with your spouse about the changes that are happening and talk about your needs to her as well. Learn to compromise. It will be great practice for the upcoming challenge of parenting.

Here's What You Can Do

For Your Wife

  • Share the work in doing daily chores to ease stress.
  • Give your wife positive feedback, even when she does not feel like she is at her best. Tell her how excited you are about being a dad and that you know she will be a great mom.

For Yourself

  • Join a support group for fathers. It can help to talk to others who are going through the same thing.
  • Think about what you expect being a father will be like and what type of parent you want to be. Share your thoughts with your wife. It helps to talk about parenting styles and discipline ahead of time.

The Third Trimester: Preparing for Labor and Delivery

The final weeks of your wife's pregnancy may seem to last a long time. You may begin to wonder if the baby will ever arrive. Your wife may have an aching back, heartburn, or problems sleeping. Preparing for baby, increasing discomfort, and carrying the weight of a full-grown baby begin to take their toll.

A childbirth class can help. It can also help you connect with other new parents. Ask as many questions as you can. The instructor may be a registered nurse or certified labor assistant. Do not be embarrassed by your questions. The teacher has usually helped to deliver many babies in many situations. You may also be able to watch a recording of a live birth.

Last Minute Worries

Common pre-delivery worries are around the baby's health and financial concerns. These are normal worries that every mother and father think about during pregnancy. Share your concerns with one another.

Fear of Birth

Your wife may begin to fear the pain of giving birth. Show her that you care by offering your support. Ask her what you can do to help before and during the birthing process.

Here's What You Can Do

For Your Wife

  • Prepare a birth plan with your spouse. This is an outline of how you want the childbirth experience to progress. Think of a birth plan as more of a wish list that may or may not come true, since neither of you can control the events during childbirth.
  • Help your wife pack her hospital bag. Include support items for both of you. Bring snacks, money, magazines, and things to distract you both, such as music, a favorite hobby, or a deck of cards. Do not forget to bring clothes for the baby.

For Yourself

  • Be prepared. Participate and play attention in childbirth classes. Read as much as you can about labor and delivery.
  • Realize your limits. No amount of preparation, reading, or support can make you feel ready enough for childbirth and parenting. Know your limits and keep in mind that it may be hard to see your wife in pain during labor and delivery. Be supportive and do the best you can.

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Healthy Children—American Academy of Family Physicians


Health Canada

Women's Health Matters


A partner's guide to pregnancy. American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: Accessed June 21, 2021.

Nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed June 21, 2021.

Tips for your birth partner. NHS website. Available at: Accessed June 21, 2021.

Last reviewed June 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board  Last Updated: 6/21/2021