Dads Get Pregnant Too!

An Expectant Father's Guide to Preparing and Enjoying the "First" Nine Months
July 22, 2008 10:29:38 AM PDT
More newborns are born during the months of July, August, and September than during any other time of the year and Chicago bestselling author Harlan Cohen is doing his part. He and his wife welcomed their second child and bookstores welcomed Harlan's new book "Dad's Pregnant Too! An Expectant Father's Guide to Preparing and Enjoying the "First" Nine Months." As a new father himself, Cohen provides men with an honest, thoughtful and humorous guide to the dos and don'ts of being an expectant dad.

America's only nationally syndicated male advice columnist, Harlan, graduates to fatherhood in his latest book, Dad's Pregnant Too! The author of The Naked Roommate, the #1 selling advice book for students going off to college, Harlan tackles the questions and concerns of dads-to-be with his signature wit and humor.

More than 4 million babies are born in the United States each year and that means there are more than 4 million expectant dads wondering what the next nine months of pregnancy will mean for them and their relationship with their spouse or partner. What better way to prepare men for impending fatherhood than by giving them a step-by-step guide with advice, tips, stories and pictures ranging from the positive pregnancy test to the delivery room?

"Dad's Pregnant Too!" features more than 100 tips for soon-to-be dads, including:

  • A guide to the different types of expectant fathers, from the Do-It-All to the Me-Too, and the Getting Fat to the Two-For-the-Price-of-Two
  • A rundown on how to spoil your pregnant partner, from massaging wherever she'll let you touch to the babymoon and push presents
  • How to navigate the baby superstore and limit your purchases to two car seats and a stroller that should go 55 mph, given the price tag
  • And everything in between, from the baby's development to the body and mind of a pregnant woman to sex during pregnancy!

"Dad's Pregnant Too!" includes quotes from hundreds of interviews with men and women who have gone through pregnancy and provides a realistic picture of what expectant fathers will see, hear, feel and touch.

According to Harlan, here are Top 5 Things an Expectant Dad Needs to Know:

  1. Get Involved Before She Asks
  2. Educate Yourself
  3. You Can Be Wrong AND Right
  4. Tell Her She's Hot And Spoil Her
  5. Get Help If You're Struggling

Now Harlan is taking his advice from the book online with a new website, www.DadsPregnant.com

Expectant dads can sign up for the Weekly Pregnancy Tracker and receive weekly updates about baby's development, their pregnant partner's mind and body, and a weekly "to do" and "not to do" list.

The website also features:

  • The DP Forums: Honest, candid, and uncensored conversations. The DP Forums give men a chance to connect with other men and women offering tips, advice, and support.
  • The Accidental A-Hole Forums: Guys have great intentions, but sometimes we accidentally make mistakes. The Accidental A-hole forum is a place for men and women to share their Accidental A-hole moments and celebrate the Accidental A-Hole in all of us.
  • Blogs-Harlan & guest bloggers offer personal insight into the expectant father experience.
  • Videos of Women Giving Birth: It's not what you think! Harlan will be posting original videos addressing top issues and concerns of expectant dads. You might see him running around Chicago interviewing expectant and new moms and dads and then posting videos online.

About the Author:

Harlan Cohen is a bestselling author, syndicated advice columnist, speaker and singer/songwriter. Harlan Cohen is a nationally syndicated advice columnist, best-selling author, speaker and singer / songwriter. His syndicated "Help Me, Harlan!" advice column reaches millions of readers in local daily and college newspapers across the USA and Canada.

Guitar in tow, Harlan is an entertaining and highly sought-after public speaker in colleges and civic gatherings. His youthful energy and straightforwardness give his serious message much more clout among his young and often rebellious audience. Harlan's writing has appeared in such publications as "The Wall Street Journal Classroom Edition, the Chicago Tribune, Psychology Today, Seventeen Magazine, and Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul III."

When not writing advice, Harlan can be found writing, performing music from his new CD, Fortunate Accidents, and expanding his Websites for college students and new parents: www.HelpMeHarlan.com, www.TheNakedRoommate.com and www.DadsPregnant.com.

Harlan is the president of Rejection Awareness Week and founder of "The International Rejection Project."

He lives with his wife, daughter and newborn son in Chicago.

From "Dad's Pregnant Too!" by Harlan Cohen (Sourcebooks; $12.95)

Tip #23

The getting fat expectant father: proving your love one nacho at a time the tip: She'll get full faster than before. Don't eat what's left on her plate; it will make you fat.

The Story: We wanted to eat out as much as possible before the baby came, thinking that a newborn baby would be noisy and not good at restaurants (not true by the way). So we'd go out to eat, and my wife would eat part of her meal but become full because her stomach was small. So I'd eat mine and hers, effectively super-sizing every meal! The food was there and I could not avoid eating it. Portion control was the major issue. I gained a total of 20 pounds during the pregnancy. I felt fat-- like the stereotypical overweight dad at little league games. My wife didn't say anything because she always thinks I'm thin. I figured that I would just take it off. Once the baby was born, I went on NutriSystem (Dan Marino's diet). We also realized our gym has a baby-sitting service, so I got a personal trainer and worked out. It took me a few months to take it off, but it's gone"
--Jay, daughter 21 months

They're not called paternity clothes?they're called fat pants. I didn't actually give birth to my daughter, but I ate like I was going to. When my wife had our baby, she gained 35 pounds and afterwards lost 20 of them in one day. I gained 15 before the delivery and another 5 pounds after it. I ate during the whole pregnancy and delivery. (I put down my sandwich during the final push.) When she craved it, I ate it.

There is actually a name for the sympathy weight a father gains. It's called "Fat Dad Syndrome." No, actually it's called couvade syndrome, and there's been clinical research to show that some men will also have increased levels of hormones and exhibit similar symptoms as their pregnant partner (but remember, you can never say, "Me too!"). Part of couvade syndrome can be phantom weight gain. It's common to put on 5, 10, or 20 pounds. One theory is that a man who exhibits similar symptoms to his partner communicates to her that he's connected and in it for the long haul. (There are hints that our primal relatives share a common approach. In a study cited by Nature magazine, male monkeys also gained weight during their counterpart's pregnancy.)

Here's how it happens: When a woman who typically eats salads and healthy foods starts craving ice cream, pizza, tater tots, and mac and cheese, a loving partner will join in the action to be supportive (and because it tastes good). He'll eat it all just so she doesn't feel alone. After joining in for nine months, that supportive partner can get fat?love handles, an extra chin, a bigger pair of pants. Two pounds a month is all it takes to show the love. If you have a history of weight gain or are struggling with weight issues (emotional eating), prepare to gain some weight and struggle. As your family grows, so do your responsibilities (and pants size). Food can be a crutch, and there's going to be a lot of it around you. If your partner watches what you eat (i.e., she tells you not to eat so much crap), don't expect her to keep tabs on you. She'll be too busy watching her own belly to watch yours grow enormous. This means you will have to cut yourself off. Going on a diet before you need it is a good idea.

Interestingly, the second- and third-time dads I interviewed were less likely to gain. As a first-time dad, the only thing I lost once the baby was born was sleep. Knowing this, I can't afford to gain any more weight the second time around because once the next baby is born, there will be even less time to go to gym and take it off (unless you have a gym at home). Now, if you happen to lose a lot of weight while your partner is gaining a lot of weight, don't make a big deal about your weight loss. Never offer her your old pants. That's one way to guarantee she'll not be getting in your pants (see Tip #57: Guide to Pregnant Sex). Stay active, make working out part of your routine, and start a diet before you need it. Her pregnancy is not a license to eat like a pig.

The Bottom Line: If she asks you why your bottom line looks so big, tell her it's because you love her.

Tip #35

The feeling fat pregnant woman: So Much More of Her to Love

The Tip: The more weight she gains, the more often she needs to be reminded of how beautiful she is.

The Story: Unfortunately, I have gained more weight than I wanted to. So far I've gained 40 pounds. I was 130 pounds at 5' 8''. I'm now 170 pounds, and I'm going to gain more. I don't think I'll hit 200 pounds. Getting dressed in the morning is the worst experience; I never know what will fit me. Some people feel really beautiful when they're pregnant. But I don't feel beautiful; I feel swollen, huge, and unattractive. When I look in the mirror, I recognize my body from the head up but from not from the head down. The doctor says I'm totally fine. It's particularly hard because all my friends gained 25 pounds during their pregnancies. My husband is totally supportive and says that everyone's body is different. He knows it bothers me. It probably kills him to see me look in the mirror and get so upset. He's as physically attracted to me and maybe even more so. He tells me I'm more beautiful because I'm carrying his child even more beautiful than I was before and I tell him, "You're such a liar." But it helps to hear the words over and over again. There's no doubt that I'll get back to my weight.
--Allison, 71/2 months pregnant

The first thing he bought me after I had the baby was a jogging stroller to help me lose weight. I told him it hurt my feelings because it made me think that he thought I was fat. He said he honestly knew I'd want to get back into shape and was buying it to please me.?Gini (daughter 4 months)

This is one of the most sensitive and delicate issues. So much of pregnancy is so uncomfortable. And to top it off, her expanding body is growing out of yet another pair of pants. A pregnant woman will have good days and bad days. A bad day is when she grows out of her thin jeans. A good day is when a stranger flirts with her in the midst of a second trimester "fat day" (don't be jealous, let her have it). Some women find gaining weight liberating and others find it humiliating. Most women will gain 25 to 35 pounds (most guys about 10 pounds). Some gain more, some less. Avoid monitoring her weight.

The end of her first trimester (possibly sooner) will be the end of her pants. The end of the second trimester will be the end of seeing her feet. The end of the third trimester will be the end of wearing clothes with a waistline. As her shape disappears, she needs to be reminded of the things she can't see-- and that's our job. As a partner of a woman gaining weight, my best advice is to make her feel beautiful.

Some women love their new weight. They find it liberating to no longer have to worry about measuring up to the unattainable body image that society (and men) impose on them. Others feel fat, ugly, and disgusting. Whichever way she feels, compliment the hell out of her on a regular basis-- this way, when she has a bad day and you tell her how beautiful she is, it won't look like you're making it up. She will believe you.

From the point when she grows out of her regular jeans until she has the baby and gets back into them (nine months up and at least nine) months down), remind her of how beautiful she is. Find something beautiful to focus on. It can be her smile, eyes, belly, or her courage. If you can't find anything beautiful to compliment her about, then see a therapist. I'm completely serious about this. If you can't find anything beautiful about your pregnant partner, that's not something to ignore.

Following are some things you should never say or do and a few things you should always say and do:

  • NEVER question how much she's eating (talk to the doctor if you're concerned).
  • NEVER ask her if she really "needs" to eat something.
  • NEVER ask her, "Are you sure you're hungry? You just ate."
  • NEVER joke about how much she eats or the foods she eats.
  • NEVER joke about her weight (even if she jokes at first, it will come back to haunt you).
  • NEVER buy her clothing that's way too big (buy it with her or get a gift card).
  • NEVER use the word cellulite.
  • NEVER point out the areas where she has put on the most weight.
  • NEVER tell her she's catching up to you.
  • NEVER point out a problem without having a solution in mind.
  • NEVER ask if everyone gains this much weight.
  • NEVER compare her weight to other pregnant women's weight.
  • ALWAYS tell her how beautiful she is.
  • ALWAYS tell her how sexy she is.
  • ALWAYS answer "No" when asked, "Do I look fat?" (she looks beautiful and pregnant).
  • ALWAYS answer "Yes" when asked, "Do you like my body?"
  • ALWAYS compliment body parts you love (not just her boobs).
  • ALWAYS give her hugs and kisses.
  • ALWAYS tell her she does not look pregnant from behind.
  • ALWAYS ignore stretch marks.

If you're worried about her weight, go to the doctor's appointment with her and ask the doctor about it privately. If she has a history of eating disorders, make sure she mentions this to the caregiver. Hormones and dramatic change can bring up old emotions and past eating disorders. In addition to a caregiver, she might need to meet with a nutritionist or therapist to ensure she makes good choices.

As a rule, never discuss eating concerns while she's eating. If you think she's eating too much or making bad choices, be careful how and when you bring this up. You should know that a pregnant woman will gain 2 to 4 pounds per month during the first trimester and 3 to 4 pounds per month for the second and third trimesters (25 to 35 pounds total). She will need to consume roughly 300 additional calories a day.

If you sense that she's gaining too much weight, talk to the doctor first (this is why it helps to go to the appointments). Do not make food the focus; make it about her physical health and mental health. If you do end up talking to her about it, do not bring the subject up while she's eating or naked (both vulnerable times). Discussing it at the wrong time will turn you into an accidental asshole (see Tip #17). Doing it at the right time will make you appear like a loving and supportive husband.

Another good tip is to be active as a couple. Plan walks and other low-impact activities. Attend a prenatal yoga class or get her a gift certificate. Change your workout routine to accommodate her.

The Bottom Line:

Enjoy her new bottom line, remind her that she's beautiful, and enjoy the new body?it's like being with someone else without the guilt.

Expectant father trivia

QUESTION: What makes up the weight she gains?

ANSWER: Baby 61/2 to 9 pounds, placenta 11/2 pounds, amniotic fluid 2 pounds, breast enlargement 1 to 3 pounds, uterus enlargement 2 pounds, fat stores and muscle development 6 to 8 pounds, increased blood volume 3 to 4 pounds, increased fluid volume 2 to 3 pounds = Total 24 to 321/2 pounds

(Source: Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy)


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