Labor Pains: Does Reading A Dozen Baby Books Prepare Men For Childbirth?

Mommyish has a new avid reader named Will that I would like to welcome! I know that Will has been reading each and every post because he happens to work with me at my day job. When he found out that I wrote for a parenting site, he asked for the website so that he could check it out. Apparently being named “Mommyish” wasn’t a deterrent, because my co-worker came in on a Monday morning and told me that he’d spent hours clicking link after link to new stories. We’re glad you like the site, Will!

A couple of weeks ago, Will shared the news that he was going to be a dad in roughly seven and a half months. Immediately after that, he told me that he was half-way through the Mayo Clinic Guide To A Healthy Pregnancy. He’s starting on What To Expect When You’re Expecting next. He’s soaking up every last bit of information he can find on pregnancy, all to prepare for the big event seven months from now.

I think that most parents can relate to that nervous anticipation of pregnancy. We all worry about doing everything right and making sure that our child is healthy, even before we’ve met them. As a woman, I felt completely clueless on a lot of different levels. I can still remember being told off by a co-worker because I ate sushi for lunch without considering the mercury levels of my choices. I had just announced my pregnancy, was probably six weeks along and hadn’t even considered the fish issues yet. I’m pretty sure I didn’t go near a piece of fish for the next nine months.

But at least, as a woman, I could feel the changes happening in my body. I could relate to the pictures and descriptions in pregnancy books and blogs. I felt in control of the situation, as much as anyone can be in control of their pregnancy. I can’t imagine how it feels on the other side of the pee stick. I have no idea what it would be like to find out all of these precautions and worries for pregnant women, but not be able to actually control the choices being made. The fact is that most men have to trust their partner to make the right decisions and protect their child. For happily married couples, that should be pretty easy. For couples that don’t live together or are having issues, it’s not quite so simple.

I never had a man interested in my pregnancy and how I took care of it, so I can’t really relate. But I wonder how it feels to have someone looking over your shoulder, making sure that you’re doing everything correctly. Of course, the positive is that you actually have a partner who cares about you and your child. I’m sure that far outweighs any frustrations that come from explaining over and over again, “Yes, I’m positive that one cup of coffee will not be a big deal!”

Men have to turn to books (and blogs!) to prepare for childbirth. Of course they need to talk to their partners as well, but I think studying up is one of the ways that men try to prove their commitment to a process that doesn’t seem to matter whether they’re present or not. Pregnancy will go on, whether a father shows up to every doctor’s appointment or not. They have to deal with that by familiarizing themselves with the symptoms, risks and joys of what’s going on in their partner’s body.

I commend my co-worker for taking such a great initiative to prepare himself for pregnancy and everything that comes after. I’m sure that he’ll make an amazing father. I’m also sure that families will only come closer the more involved a dad gets early on. Does reading a dozen baby books prepare men for childbirth? Probably not. It doesn’t prepare women, either. Nothing is quite like that experience. But it does show his partner and his child just what type of father he’ll be, and I think that’s a pretty good reason to hit the library.

[Writer’s Note: Will is not reading Pregnancy for Dummies. I just think it’s funny that this book exists. Obviously, I really admire hid dedication to preparing for his child and I wish Will the very best of luck!]

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