My wife is pregnant. What can I expect?
July 26, 2008 7:21 PM   Subscribe

So the wife is pregnant! What do we do now? I'm looking for all manner of informative sites on pregnancy and what to expect.

My wife is about 4 or so weeks pregnant. (We haven't actually had a test yet, but there are a LOT of signs that point in that direction; it's the only thing that it could be at this point.)

So I know there must be a wealth of info out there for mothers-to-be, but I especially want to know what I can do for my wife during the pregnancy. For example, what food should she be eating or not eating? How do I know if she's experiencing something more than morning sickness? I have hundreds more, but you get the idea.

Books would be nice, but good online resources are even better. Where do I start to learn about being pregnant? Well, the wife, anyway. Me, just vicariously.
posted by zardoz to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I'll start things off by advising you to make sure your wife is taking a prenatal vitamin with folic acid. It is super important, especially in the first trimester, for brain development and all sorts of things.

posted by Abbril at 7:37 PM on July 26, 2008

You might find some of the information at Alpha Mom interesting. Amy's particular part of that site chronicles her going through pregnancy week by week with some information out of books thrown in there for good measure.
posted by kirstk at 7:39 PM on July 26, 2008

2nd the prenatal. Check out The name says it all. Congrats!!
posted by pearlybob at 7:39 PM on July 26, 2008

Oh and Congrats!
posted by kirstk at 7:39 PM on July 26, 2008

I don't mean to be rude, but Googling "pregnancy" gets you a vast array of excellent resources. Your specific questions are also very easily addressed with sites such as the first ten that show up in such a search. Congratulations and best of luck.
posted by judith at 7:39 PM on July 26, 2008

Take an early-response pregnancy test from the drug store. False positives are rare, but false negatives are pretty common, especially this early. If it comes up negative, wait a few days or a week and try again.

If she's in good health and otherwise "low-risk", consider seeking out a midwife (vs. an obstetrician) for prenatal care.

And, congratulations!
posted by libraryhead at 8:02 PM on July 26, 2008

There are tons of sites on the internet that will tell you more than you'll ever want to know about being pregnant. I'd like to offer you a few suggestions, warnings, and alternatives.

If someone gives you a copy of "What to Expect When You're Expecting" (and someone will try to give you one of these - they circulate like fruitcake), either take it with a huge lick of salt or throw it in the trash. The book has some good information, but it will also tell you, in detail, what could possibly be going wrong inside your uterus at any specific point in your pregnancy. It's too much needless information that will just get both of you more worried than you probably need to be. And most of the time, you can't do anything with the information besides freak out about it.

You can get basic month-by-month descriptions of the pregnancy through Babycenter, and they'll send you regular updates through email if you'd like. The discussion boards on the site can be helpful, but I'd view them with the same wariness that I'd view most health-oriented discussion boards. The conversation is usually shaped by people who are upset or otherwise passionate about their past experiences, which may not bear any resemblance to yours. So if you read a discussion on epidurals or circumcision, be prepared for all sorts of horror stories that may seem to be the norm but will probably not happen to you. People who are satisfied with their pregnancy experiences tend not to be the ones making multiple posts on the subject. For instance, I had a bad experience with Parenting Discussion Boards, and here I am.

Find a doctor you trust, even if that means switching doctors.. Make sure that doctor can be reached easily if you have any questions. Trust that doctor more than you trust a stranger on the internet with a proverbial axe to grind. Most of the decisions that you'll make in pregnancy are pretty easy: don't drink; don't smoke; stay away from sushi, unpasteurized dairy, and trampolines; eat healthy, keep active, but don't exercise too hard; learn when to call a doctor (preferably from the doctor). And know - but don't dwell on - the reality that you can do everything right and still have things go wrong - especially this early in the process. The baby-advice industry make money off new parents because we are frightened by this awesome new responsibility, but they downplay how many things about child-creating and raising are ultimately outside our control. That's the really scary part.

Besides the doctor, the second best resource will be your friends or other new parents that you and your wife should try to meet. Ask around for advice on ob/gyns, hospitals, baby gear, pregnancy experiences, and the like. If you don't currently run with a fecund crowd , maybe she can join a prenatal exercise class. (One of the strongest mom-cliques I know started in a prenatal yoga class about six years ago.) These are the people who will give you real-life, practical, useful advice.

So first - breathe. Second, find a doctor (who probably won't see you for a few more weeks). Third, go to Babycenter. Fourth - talk to your friends. And don't forget to breathe. Because pregnancy can be so much fun. And it's the easy part.
posted by bibliowench at 8:30 PM on July 26, 2008

Congrats! Having just gone through this, I can share a few experiences.

Foods to avoid - basically sushi, rare meats, and cold cuts. Certain kinds of fish contain high concentrations of mercury (tuna and other big fish). Google it.

I really think books are the way to go because they tend to have more consistent content, although my wife did refer to from time to time.

The OB/GYN recommended "The Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy", and my wife also liked "The Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy." The book "The Expectant Father" is written for dads-to-be, and is pretty good as well. I also enjoyed "Pregnancy Sucks For Men", although it is mostly just for comic relief. Check Amazon for others. Get these books used, for cheap.

My wife's OB/GYN and other friends warned us to avoid the book "What to Expect When You're Expecting" because it basically is filled with information about all of the bad things that can possibly happen during pregnancy and causes people to freak out if things don't go exactly as described. It's not that it's inaccurate, it's just too much information. I actually forbade my wife from reading it.

Also, once you know for sure, have your wife contact HR discreetly to find out if they have any benefits for expectant mothers. The HR dept at my wife's company gave us a bunch of useful free stuff (including a copy of the Mayo Clinic book).

The best thing you can do for your wife is to be attentive and supportive. Listen to her needs, but don't dote on her. Always keep in mind that she hasn't gone crazy, she's just pregnant. ;)

Also, don't freak out. Really. Millions of people do this every day and get through it just fine.
posted by kenliu at 9:02 PM on July 26, 2008

Also, forgot to mention two things - talk frankly to friends who have gone through this recently (as opposed to parents and older relatives) to get good advice. We did a lot of this and I really think it made the process much less stressful knowing that your experiences are the same as other people. Even the bad stuff like coming up positive for various prenatal medical tests. Secondly, encourage your wife to exercise regularly throughout the pregnancy (but ask the doctor, of course), it makes things a lot easier. There's no reason become sedentary, the baby is well protected in there.
posted by kenliu at 9:09 PM on July 26, 2008


AltDotLife has great pregnancy & parenting forums.
posted by belladonna at 9:42 PM on July 26, 2008

See previous thread.

And congrats!
posted by Asparagirl at 11:28 PM on July 26, 2008

I'd start by getting a couple of pregnancy tests to confirm she is actually pregnant and then making a doctors appointment and taking it from there.
posted by missmagenta at 12:51 AM on July 27, 2008

Seconding missmagenta. There *are* things it could be other than pregnancy-- make sure. But congratulations.

A good doctor will sit through as many questions as you have, and ours frequently sits for over half an hour. We loved the book "Your Pregnancy Week by Week" by Curtis. Much more informative than "What To Expect" and much less alarmist than the Mayo Guide. Have fun!
posted by weezetr at 6:13 AM on July 27, 2008

Not to be a total buzzkill, but do absolutely DO take a pregnancy test. Take several.

I had a blighted ovum a few years ago, all of the signs pointed to pregnancy, I felt pregnant, but the tests were negative. Lo and behold, I "miscarried" a few weeks later. It was an awful situation. Be absolutely, ABSOLUTELY sure that you really are pregnant before getting too wrapped up in what to do next.

Best of luck!
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:05 AM on July 27, 2008

"What to expect when you're expecting" is the worst book ever.

She should chill, avoid stuff that might give her heartburn, lots of healthy foods.

If she can't hold down water (meaning, when she drinks it she pukes it right back up) go to the ER.

Get a great doctor. They will be the best resource. SHOP AROUND. If the first one is a jerk, feel free to tell them to shove it, and get another one.
posted by sondrialiac at 10:51 AM on July 27, 2008

Trust your instincts and ignore the books. All of the baby books are terrible. They either reiterate common sense or are so contradictory that they're worse than useless. I finally made my wife throw out all the baby books because she was becoming so frustrated trying to reconcile the contradictions that she began to lose confidence in her abilities as a mother. The purpose of all baby books is not to help you but to make the publishers money.

Find a OB/Gyn practice where you both feel comfortable. My wife found a fantastic group via word of mouth. They were very laid back with a "birth is natural" attitude. Made the entire process very enjoyable. Don't be embarassed to ask questions. I made my wife groan so many times during our visits that she almost quit taking me. I learned more from questioning the doctors than from any other source. It's your kid too so get involved with the doctors.

Be strong and stay calm through out the whole pregnancy, there will come a time right near the end when your wife will rely upon you to help her get through the birthing process. My wife told me later that all she remembered from just before our son was born was my voice telling her to breathe and that she was doing a great job and that our son was almost there.

Being pregnant and having a baby are bodily functions that a healthy woman should have little trouble performing. Birth is isn't a medical procedure. The doctors are there to advise and help, but your wife's body knows what it is doing. Let her know she is capable of doing what all women have been doing since the beginning of time.

Watch over your wife, listen to her and take care of her. Your job is to support her and make her feel safe. And buy twice as many diapers as you think you'll need during that first month. We did and we still had to buy more.
posted by latexalibi at 3:22 PM on July 27, 2008

You and your wife should approach the birth itself in whatever way makes you most comfortable. This book really empowered me to trust my body through my daughter's birth, and I think it can be helpful whether you are hoping for a natural or a medically-assisted birth.

Good luck!
posted by chihiro at 4:21 PM on July 27, 2008


I loved What to Expect When You're Expecting. I wanted a lot of information. Not everybody reacts to information by freaking out; some people -- maybe Zardoz's wife, for all we know -- are more inclined to freak out if they feel like they don't have enough information to make informed choices. And of course, "enough information" is an individual thing.

I too firmly believed that
Latexalibi: Being pregnant and having a baby are bodily functions that a healthy woman should have little trouble performing. Birth is isn't a medical procedure.
and so I wanted to know all about it. I chose to have an unmedicated midwife-assisted birth for my first child (the second was unassisted, but that was not on purpose), which was absolutely a glorious experience, so please don't discount that option before looking into it. I found the Midwife's Guide to Pregnancy and Birth terrific, and of course Husband-Coached Childbirth: the Bradley Method.

Congratulations to you and Mrs. Zardoz.
posted by Methylviolet at 4:49 PM on July 27, 2008

We liked this book, Dr Miriam Stoppard's Pregnancy and Birth book.

Here's a tip -- we spent the whole time obsessing, learning, and studying the minutiae of pregnancy, diet, contractions, birth, complications, drugs, surgery: everything up until the moment the hospital sends you home ... and then we panicked. The being-alone-with-a-new-baby part had somehow been forgotten. So make a bit of time for that in your studies.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 7:25 PM on July 27, 2008

Yeah, I gotta agree with AmbroseChapel here. No matter what hospital or clinic or midwife orwhatever you are signed up with, the process pretty much takes care of itself overall. You will be surprised how mobile and generally able your wife is. My wife and I went for an hour-long walk every day up until 4 hours before the baby was born. Anyway, follow your common sense a,d your wife's condition, and you should be able to get up to the birth just fine. Then she gets to stay in the hospital for a while, and you get to spend the days visiting her and the nights enjoying the last peacful quiet time you will ever have in that house.

What's really going to freak you out is when the hospital sends your wife on her merry way with nothing but a pack of wet naps, a paper nightgown, and a baby. My advice here is to get the house set up a good bit before the due date. And don't worry about buying clothes for the baby; everyone you know will give you some. Worry about a year later when she's grown out of them all and everyone just takes your baby for granted and doesn't give you presents anymore.

The only advice I have for you during pregnancy is to be prepared for your wife to want weird things. If she's foreign they may be rather difficult things to find, but you had better find them in mass quantities or you will never have any peace. My wife was dying for Perrier the whole time, but only the lime version that the never have anywhere. I had to get a store to order me a whole giant case. And yes, it's almost a year later and I'm still drinking the remainders.
posted by donkeymon at 8:05 AM on July 28, 2008

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