When you’re a mom-to-be, your pregnancy is always on your mind. You are tuned in to every aspect of your baby’s life and physically experience your growing belly and your baby’s first kicks.
Dads-to-be, on the other hand, may not feel quite so connected until they are actually holding your little bundle of joy in their arms. Although this is normal, it can be understandably frustrating—and even worrisome—for expectant moms.
There are many reasons that expectant fathers can seem detached during pregnancy, and most of them are not cause for alarm. Here are a few common reasons why dads-to-be may seem a bit disconnected and what you can do to help:
1. Unchanged routines.
One of the reasons that it can be difficult for expectant fathers to get excited about your pregnancy is because their life hasn’t really changed all that much … yet.
While you have been busy dealing with an array of pregnancy symptoms, lifestyle changes, concerns and worries, your partner has largely kept his same pre-pregnancy habits and routines.
As your due date approaches, you might try to get your partner involved in preparing for the baby’s arrival. Try to find a task he would actually enjoy doing, like painting or setting up the crib if he is handy, or choosing some outfits with a favorite team logo if he is into sports. This will help to get your pregnancy on his radar in a subtle, fun way.
2. Worry about parenting abilities.
Even a dad-to-be who doesn’t have a ton of experience with kids knows that babies are a lot of work and can, at times, be exhausting. It’s totally normal for dads-to-be (and also moms-to-be) to experience fear and anxiety about their future parenting abilities, and sometimes these worries can manifest as a lack of interest in your pregnancy.
If you have a feeling that your partner is worried about his ability to be a good father or take care of his child, try to give him some low-key experience via a parenting class or babysitting for a friend or relative.
Be careful, though, that you don’t overwhelm him; small doses, such as asking him to read an article or watch a short parenting video, might be enough to boost his confidence and get him to take more of an interest.
3. Fear of changes in your relationship.
It is an understatement to say that babies are game-changers in a relationship.
If your husband is indifferent about your pregnancy, it could be because he is worried about how your new addition will affect how you interact with each other.
First-time dads may have concerns about how your pregnancy—and the baby—will affect your ability and desire to have sex, or may worry about changes in household finances or responsibilities. They may even be worried that you will forget about them and your relationship after your baby arrives.
It’s important that you remember to give your partner some TLC, too. Try tabling the baby banter for an evening and scheduling some time for you and your partner to reconnect. By providing your partner with the reassurance that your relationship is, and will continue to be, a priority, he may become more comfortable with the impending arrival of the tiny human in your belly.
4. Not having a chance to “meet” your baby.
You and your baby are together 24/7 for nine months. But because your husband isn’t experiencing morning sickness, indigestion, a growing belly and mood swings, he has no clue what you are physically going through. And, he also isn’t able to experience those magical milestones, such as a first kick or a case of baby hiccups, which make all the discomfort worth it.
Whenever possible, involve your partner in important milestones such as hearing your baby’s heartbeat during your first prenatal visit, attending ultrasounds and feeling those first kicks. Those tangible reminders of your baby’s presence might just help him to become more attuned to your pregnancy.
Thanks to modern technology, busy dads who can’t attend your prenatal appointments can still “check in” on the baby at their convenience. A home ultrasound Doppler, such as the Fetal Heart Monitor by 1790, will allow your partner to safely and easily hear your baby’s heartbeat anytime, anywhere.
If your partner is game, it might also help to discuss potential baby names in advance. Deciding on a name before the baby is born may help your partner to start viewing the baby as an actual person—his son or daughter—before your due date.
5. Not able to visualize the future.
For months, you have probably been having daydreams about what your daughter’s prom dress will look like, where your son will go to college, family vacations you will take, holidays you will spend together and sports your child will play.
Although these musings probably seem crystal clear to you, your partner may not be able to visualize the future with that level of detail—or with any detail at all.
Try to find out what is important to your partner and learn more about what traditions he would like to pass along to your child. Is there a special family pastime, secret recipe, favorite sport or holiday tradition he would like to incorporate into your child’s life? Or, you could talk about values that are important to your partner and things you might be able to do to instill them in your child.
6. Not knowing what you need.
During your pregnancy, your partner has watched you physically change before his eyes. And, at times, you have probably been sick, cranky, sweaty, exhausted, hungry—or a combination of all of these. It can be tough for your partner to keep up! He might be feeling confused, helpless or even anxious about doing something to upset you.
If your partner seems distant, it is entirely possible that he simply doesn’t realize that you need more support, doesn’t know what to do to help or isn’t aware that he seems disinterested in your pregnancy. And instead of asking what he can do to help, your partner may simply shut down or start walking on eggshells.
If this is the case, the fix is easy. You need to make your partner aware of what you want and need—in the nicest possible way. A little guidance and direction may be all that he needs to get him to step up and take an interest in your pregnancy.