Just for Dads
Although your partner is still in the relative calm and comfort of the second trimester, you may be bone-tired as her tossing, turning, and expanding territorial stake of the bed has you sleeping fitfully. Some earplugs or perhaps an occasional night on the couch or guestroom bed to recoup sleep losses can be invaluable. You could also be thinking more, perhaps with some apprehension, about your impending dad duties. Instead of worrying, take action.
Practice Makes Perfect
It's often said that a new baby doesn't come with an owner's manual or instruction book, but that's not completely true. Most hospitals and birthing centers will offer you a small forest of literature on how to care for your child once you get him home. Between this, prenatal education classes, and the hundreds of baby books at your local library and bookstore, you can at least gain an understanding of how all the components are supposed to work.
If you're feeling a little insecure about your capabilities, however, getting some hands-on experience with a living, breathing baby can be a real plus. Offer to take care of a niece, nephew, or neighbor's child so you and your partner can get some baby care practice. (Hint: don't use the word “practice”when offering babysitting services to the parents.) If you're not quite up to the flying solo skill level yet, the next time you're visiting take the opportunity to hold, feed, or (if you're feeling daring) change the baby.
The Second Time Around
Perhaps you're an expert at all of this dad stuff already, and you've been coasting through this pregnancy with ease. You still have some unknowns to deal with, including how your existing child or children is/are going to handle the mantle of siblinghood. Don't forget that every pregnancy is different, and what could have been smooth sailing last time may be tougher this go-round.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, up to 15 percent of women experience restless leg syndrome (RLS) in late pregnancy. Characterized by pain or unpleasant sensations in the legs, RLS may be related to nerve compression or a folate and/or iron deficiency. If RLS is keeping you awake, talk to your doctor about treatment options.
Also keep in mind that even if you don't have new dad anxieties to contend with, your partner still has to do the heavy work. Share childcare duties, take time to pamper her, and make her feel like a supermodel mom-to-be rather than the old lady who lives in a shoe. (For more on second or later pregnancies, see Chapter 11.)