So, your wife is pregnant. She’s excited, you’re excited, and you have good reason to be. One of the biggest things people struggle with, or at least I did, was whether I needed to be at the baby appointments. We went back and forth for a while, trying to decide. Can I get work off? Do I need to be there? What even happens at the appointments? All questions that came up that, frankly we didn’t know the answers to.
Dealing with work when your wife is pregnant.
The first big thing most people must factor in is work. If you don’t have vacation time to use, your work may not allow you time off to go to the baby appointments, and unfortunately that may be the end of it. However, if you do have vacation time, you want to be careful that you don’t use all of it up before the baby comes, your little one and wife are going to need you when it’s baby time. The best solution I found was what we called Make-up time. I had a sit-down meeting with my boss, and her boss as well. I asked if I could make up hours by coming in early/working late throughout the week so that I could go to the baby appointments and still get a full 40-hour paycheck. This worked great for me. I’d come in an hour early twice a week and then leave half hour to an hour late those days as well and voila, half day, was banked and I could go to the baby appointment stress free. Obviously the other alternative if to take unpaid time off. This wasn’t an option for my wife and I unfortunately as we were a little under water debt wise. So, if you can take unpaid time, comfortably then go for it.
Do I really need to be there?
Well this question is very subject to your spouse. Let me just point out, that none of the appointments medically speaking, require the father to be there. No, the health of your child doesn’t depend on your attendance, so you can breathe easy. However, if your wife is an independent woman, and doesn’t need the support, then you also are in the clear. If your wife is a little more emotional and or less independent, it may be a good idea to re-work your schedule. I tried to make it to all major appointments, but I could tell my wife would get these little panic attacks on appointment days when she realized I wasn’t going with her. The thought of going alone wasn’t usually what scared her, it was more the thought of receiving bad news and having to deal with it alone. Or received the news then having to deliver it to me personally, instead of hearing it from the doctor. Make sure you talk to your wife, about her needs and whether she needs/wants/ or would just prefer your presence.
What happens at these appointments?
What happens from appointment to appointment can vary greatly. Here is the general rundown of the appointments.
First appointment: Ultrasound and quick test to confirm the pregnancy (can vary slightly depending on how far along she is) Father’s should not miss this appointment.
If you do not hear the heartbeat at the first appointment, I STRONGLY recommend fathers attend every appointment until you do. I went to the first two appointments and we didn’t hear the heartbeat, unfortunately on the 3rd appointment, which was supposed to be a “pee and measure” appointment, the doctor found the heartbeat and I missed it, it was a major downer.
12 to 14-week appointment: This appointment is one of the pretty standard “pee and measure” appointments, however they asked a lot of questions at this one. Such as genetic testing. This can be a tough decision for some couples, and nowadays can also tell you the gender of the baby. So, unless you research and make a firm decision before hand, I think that the father should try to be there.
20-week appointment: This is the big ultrasound where they can usually define the gender. If you didn’t find the gender out from a blood test, then this is probably the “biggest” appointment for most couples. Even if you did find out the gender earlier, this could be the only other time you get to see your baby before they are born. A lot of hospitals / doctors won’t do anymore ultrasounds if they see nothing to be concerned with.
All the appointments between here and about 36 weeks are just show up and pee in a cup, then get measured to make sure everything is looking normal, so if you can make these then great! If you are unable then I wouldn’t worry too much.
36 weeks and on: So, once you hit 36 weeks you will be going to the doctor’s office every week. This may be a little tricky, but I highly recommend Dad attend all these appointments. Around this time, you should have your hospital bags packed and ready to go. With the increased safety standards, Doctors will induce pregnant women more often if there is even the slightest hint of concern. Maybe too much fatigue, lack of appetite, or the big one, High blood pressure. You don’t want to miss an appointment only to get a phone call from your wife saying she is being induced. That can be very stressful for women, especially a first-time mom.
The above appointments are the ones I would say are the most important for a father to attend. Obviously if your schedule permits it I would say go to all of them.
Why you should attend Baby appointments with your wife.
I’m sure people can come up with plenty of reasons why you should be at the baby appointments. I think it’s all about supporting your loved one. They need your support, or at least want it. It’s a lot to process and it’s easier when you are not alone. Also, you may have questions for the doctor and a lot of them may come up in the moment. Or, if your wife is like mine, she may be embarrassed to ask questions or ask the simple little questions. You can be there to embarrass yourself, so she doesn’t have to. Another reason is you really don’t want to miss these moments, you will look back on them and remember them fondly when your kid is blowing out diapers and your clothes are stained. It’s like watching a movie, it is always more enjoyable when you can discuss it with someone who experienced as well. Finally, one of the biggest benefits of attending the appointments was time spent together. Everyone knows when baby comes, they steal the show. The personal time/ alone time you get with your wife is limited greatly. These appointments were our way to spend a day together. Our doctor was about a 30-minute drive in a different town, so we’d go window shopping for ourselves and actual shopping for the baby, we’d have a nice lunch and call it a day. It was our way of getting out of the house, away from the stress of home. Also, when your wife is pregnant nothing is more relaxing than hearing your doctor tell you everything is “happy and healthy” which only makes the day out, that more enjoyable.