Our Lives are About to Change Forever – A Guideline for Fathers-to-be ( Part 2)

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Salaam!

In our previous article, we touched on the different types of preparation that a man needs to see through BEFORE the baby is even conceived (if you have not read that, click the link here. Now, we are going to cover the next stage: the stage where both you and your wife are pregnant… Wait, what??

That’s right, bro. When your wife is pregnant, it is your duty to become ‘pregnant’ too and go through every single woe of carrying a child inside the womb for 40 weeks (yeah, it’s not really 9 months you know). Let me tell you this: having been pregnant twice, I wish there were times when I could strap a watermelon around my husband’s belly and make him walk around just so that I could secretly grin in delight when he complains of back aches.

This article is going to touch on a few technicalities:

1) know what to expect during EVERY stage of pregnancy and
2) what your wife wants to hear from you and see you do at every stage of pregnancy. We will cover the specific prayers and du’as that you can recite in the next article.

First trimester

What to Expect

Your wife is going to be very tired, exhausted, fatigued, and feeling every synonym of tiredness. Her body is going to feel like it has been hit by a 10,000-tonne truck every night and she will sleep like a baby, meaning she will want to take multiple naps throughout the day.

“But her belly is not even showing!” That must be what you’re thinking. If that happens to be in your head, keep it in there; don’t let it come out of your mouth.

Yes, at this stage, your wife’s belly is not showing, but there are a lot of things going on inside the womb that will sap a lot of energy from her. This is the most crucial stage of pregnancy where most of the vital organs of the baby are formed, so though it may look like your wife is not doing anything on the outside, she is, by virtue of just breathing and living, running a 24-hour factory inside!

In Surat al-Mu`minūn, verses 12-14, Allah swt states:

} وَلَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الإِِنْسَانَ مِنْ سُلاَلَةٍ مِّــنْ طِــينٍ ثُمَّ جَعَلْنَاهُ نُطْفَةً فِي قَرَارٍ مَّكِينٍ ثُمَّ خَلَقْنَا النُّطْفَةَ عَلَقَةً فَخَلَقْنَا الْعَلَقَةَ مُضْغَةً فَخَلَقْنَا الْمُضْغَةَ عِظَامًا فَكَسَوْنَا الْعِظَامَ لَحْماً ثُمَّ أَنشَأْنَاهُ خَلْقًا آخَرَ فَتَبَارَكَ اللٌّهُ أَحْسَنُ الْخَالِقِينَ {

“Certainly We created the human being from an extract of clay. Then We made him a drop of (seminal) fluid (lodged) in a secure abode. Then We created the drop of fluid as a clinging mass. Then We created the clinging mass as a fleshy tissue. Then We created the fleshy tissue as bones. Then We clothed the bones with flesh. Then We produced him as (yet) another creature. So blessed is Allāh (SwT), the best of creators!”

A lot of the most important parts of the formation of a foetus happen in the first trimester!

Then, consider this Quranic verse that touches on the hardship that a mother goes through during a pregnancy:

“…His mother carried him, (increasing her) in weakness upon weakness…” (Surah Luqman: 14)

Some women go through a relatively ‘easy’ pregnancy – the inverted commas are there because pregnancies are never easy; it is just easy compared to other pregnancies. However, more than 50% of women experience some sort of nausea and loss of appetite in the first trimester to the point of losing weight, even.

Morning sickness, for these women, is a myth. It does not strike them in the morning; it strikes them morning, afternoon, evening, night… You get the drift. In fact, one to three percent of pregnant women suffer from hyperemesis gravidarum – the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, being one of them – whereby vomiting is so severe that hospitalisation is often required.

You can read more about the nausea and loss of appetite here: http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/morning-sickness-during-pregnancy/ This page includes some helpful tips on how to ease the symptoms and ensure that your wife gets to give her body the nutrients it needs.

What your wife wants to hear from you or see you do

At this stage, it is of utmost importance that you are understanding and patient. As hard as it is for you to sometimes have to cancel plans to go out or cut short an outing, it is even harder for your wife because she is the one going through this.

You need to start taking over some of the more energy-sapping household chores like vacuuming, mopping and hanging out the laundry. Some women cannot even smell certain foods or ingredients, so you might even need to take over the cooking duty. If you have been equally dividing chores with your wife throughout your marriage, then great! It will be too much of a big step for you. But for those who are not used to it, then it is time to step up your game. There is nothing manlier than a man who is not afraid to roll up his sleeves and chip in with the household chores when he can.

You will also have to say a lot of encouraging things to her. Rolling your eyes or making a face when she needs to throw up for the 108th time in a day will not do. Instead, you can prepare many plastic bags for her to throw up in (keep it in your bag, your car, your pocket etc) and help her by rubbing her back and her forehead with a bit of peppermint drop or other oils that she might like to smell.

Smell is another big issue. If your wife suddenly cannot stand the smell of your deodorant (or lack of) then be considerate and find an option that works for the two of you. There are few more tips and tricks that you can try out with your wife here at this page: https://www.parents.com/pregnancy/my-body/morning-sickness/morning-sickness/

Be kind with your words and always assure her that she looks great, even if she looks a little grey from all the vomiting.

“Whoa, that’s a long list of things for me to do!” Is that in your head? Yes, that’s right, hence the title of this series.

Second Trimester

What to Expect

After the turbulence of the first trimester, the second trimester should be relatively less dramatic. By this time, the nausea should have eased off, though don’t be shocked if it doesn’t because some morning sickness lasts throughout the entire pregnancy. Throughout pregnancy, your wife is described as a person who goes through jihad, so even this relatively easier stage should not be taken lightly.

It is also narrated from Imām as-Ŝādiq (as): “Every time a woman becomes pregnant, during the whole period of pregnancy she has the status of one who fasts, one who worships during the night, and one who fights for Allāh (SwT) with her life and possessions…”

At this stage, your wife’s pregnant belly will start showing, hence she will start to feel the strain on her back. The good news is, she will start getting her appetite back, and sometimes may get cravings for certain foods at certain periods of the day!

What your wife wants to hear from you or see you do

Be a supportive husband. You might want to help her by giving her little back massages at night or rubbing her feet that must feel so sore from suddenly having to carry more weight. Whatever that is recommended for you to do during the first trimester, continue doing it because you are such a loving and understanding husband, right?

When the food cravings hit, try your best to fulfil her wishes, though at the same time, it is also encouraged for the mother-to-be to eat healthily. Do encourage her to eat more fruits and vegetables because a mother’s diet will affect the formation of the foetus.

This is also the time for both of you to get fit! Birth is a long and arduous process, so it is crucial for the mother to be healthy and strong. Imagine having to run a marathon 9 months from now and doing nothing to prepare other than to sleep and eat? Obviously that will not do! There are many prenatal exercise classes that your wife can sign up for.

Some studios and companies that offer prenatal classes for moms-to-be are: Eaqlia Studio, HerTribe.SG and Chicmamae.

For the dads, is it important to get fit? Yes! Other than to show support for your wife, being a father will require stamina because you need to be able to stand the constant waking up at night rituals, the chasing after your child once he’s old enough to run, etc. For men, it is a little easier to find exercise classes because there is less restriction on the aurat. You can check out ActiveSG for the nearest fitness classes to your house or workplace, or simply check into any gym and lift some weights!

Third Trimester

What to Expect

During the third trimester, the baby is growing in terms of physical size at such a fast pace that your wife will soon find her stomach and other organs squished up to make room for the baby, giving her frequent heartburns and the inability to eat much food at one go. Hence, she will feel hungry easily, but may find that she cannot eat a full meal.

The third trimester is also when the swelling of the feet and other parts of the body may occur and frequent leg cramps will hit her at night.

“…His mother carried him with hardship and gave birth to him with hardship…” (Surah al-Ahqaf: 15)

Allah swt has mentioned in the Quran that pregnancy and childbirth will cause hardship to the mother. Even the blessed Maryam as, pure and loved as she is by Allah swt, felt such pain during childbirth that it drove her to rest beneath a tree and shake its trunk to withstand the trials of labour.

MasyaAllah, it is no wonder that when the Prophet saw was asked who a person should love and respect after Allah swt and Rasulullah saw, his answer was, “Your mother” three times before he said, “Your father.” Such is the hardship that a mother has to go through that it merits her being one of the major keys to Jannah in her child’s life.

What your wife wants to hear from you or see you do

Dads, this is it – this is the final lap. Your wife will feel the most uncomfortable at this stage; she will not get sufficient sleep at night due to the leg cramps and her movement will become slower and heavier.  You are both preparing for the big day when the baby will come out (more on how you can prepare for that by being a good birth partner in the next article) and your wife might feel anxious, because she is after all the one who will be doing most of the work.

It is imperative that you remain the calm and cool one because you will need to be calm in the delivery ward. You both have to come up with your own personal protocol on what to bring to the hospital and when to go to the hospital because if it is your first time, every single contraction might feel like labour, when it actually is not.

And finally, do you remember what your wife wants to hear from you or see you do over the last two trimesters? In this third trimester, you have to continue all those things. If you have consistently been helping out at home and encouraging each other to keep fit and eat healthily, then this trimester should not be a problem.

Lastly….

If you both are expecting your first child, every stage of pregnancy will be amazing and scary at the same time. It is the perfect time to bond with your wife as you discover cute and funny quirks about each other as you go through hurdle after hurdle of pregnancy together. Enjoy these moments and really take the time to appreciate one another. There is a little miracle growing inside your wife’s belly and very soon, that little miracle will take over your lives. Life, as you know it, is about to change forever.

Watch out for our next article as we discuss the specific du’as that you can recite during the pregnancy stage and how to prepare to become a birth partner (yes, that’s you!)

About the writer:

The writer is Sis Suliyati, the founder of @MuslimParents.SG, a parenting platform for Muslim parents in Singapore. MuslimParents.SG conducts kids-friendly Quran and parenting classes and events for moms. This article was written with input from her dear husband and with lots of distractions from her two cheeky children.

*This article is protected by copyright law. No distribution, redistribution or copy in any medium is allowed without written approvals.

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