Dad's Guide To Pregnancy For Dummies, 3rd Edition book cover

Dad's Guide To Pregnancy For Dummies, 3rd Edition

By: Mathew Miller and Sharon Perkins Published: 04-25-2025

This comprehensive guide shows you how to be the best partner and prepare to be the best father during one of the most exciting times in your life. Get a head start on learning critical information about pregnancy, including the physical and emotional challenges. Also get guidance on topics like how to set up a nursery, how to be helpful during childbirth, how to change a diaper, and much more.

Articles From Dad's Guide To Pregnancy For Dummies, 3rd Edition

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85 results
Dad’s Guide to Pregnancy For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 03-23-2022

Becoming a dad is both an exhilarating and a terrifying experience. Planning ahead and being prepared are the best ways to handle what’s coming up in the next nine months and beyond. Doing what you can ahead of time, such baby-proofing your house and packing your hospital bag, will save precious time later on and help you feel like you’re in control (at least a little bit). After the baby arrives, all bets are off as far as feeling in control, but you can still be prepared to take an active role in caring for your newborn and supporting your partner during the postpartum period.

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A Dad's Guide to Scheduled Sex to Get Pregnant

Article / Updated 12-02-2019

When you and your partner are trying to get pregnant there are some do's and don'ts for scheduling sex. Just because you've written sex down on your calendar doesn't mean it's just another obligation that eats up your time and lacks excitement. After all, this appointment has a far bigger upside than the average visit to the dentist. Because you have only a few ideal times each month to conceive, you need to make time for sex on those days, which requires planning. Follow these do's and don'ts to make sure your sex life doesn't suffer for the sake of conception. Do put sex on your calendar. Believe it or not, looking forward to intercourse all week can be very exciting. Verbal foreplay leading up to intercourse only increases the excitement. Do plan a date that night if possible to make it a full-fledged romantic evening. Making it just about the sex increases your pressure to perform. Do engage in foreplay. On TV and in movies, you often see the ovulating woman demand sex the minute her body temperature leads her to believe it's the best time. Make sure to keep it romantic and intimate. Some light massage, touching, and kissing should do the trick. Do mix it up. Remember that although some positions are supposed to be better when you're trying to conceive, that doesn't mean you have to stay in the same one the whole time. Do keep it spontaneous. Knowing the exact date you're going to have sex doesn't mean the setting has to stay the same. Play music, light candles, take a warm bath (not too hot — remember, you don't want to overheat the boys!), or even play out a fantasy if your partner is onboard. Do help make the aftermath enjoyable. Your partner may want to elevate her legs and stay in bed for a while after intercourse to give the semen the best chance to stay put. Help her elevate her legs, and then put on her favorite show or read to her from a book. Don't just get up and leave her alone. Do have unscheduled sex. Letting nature run its course every once in a while is okay, even when your road to conception is more like driving in bumper-to-bumper traffic than the autobahn. After ejaculation, sperm can live in a woman's reproductive tract for up to five days. Don't try too hard. Sex carries its own set of complex, anxiety-inducing expectations, but now that the expectations include creating a baby, the pressure can become downright overwhelming. If you experience performance issues, either mental or physical, due to the stress of the moment, talk it out with your partner. You won't do anyone a favor by having sex as if you're taking the SAT. Don't talk about the baby. Unless talking about getting her pregnant is a turn-on to your partner, keep the baby discussion out of the sex equation. Although trying to have a baby does indeed require sex, talking about getting her pregnant while engaging in intercourse likely won't set your bedroom on fire. Don't drink before you have sex. Alcohol can cause performance issues, and the last thing you want to do is let your partner down because you had one too many beers. Don't assume your partner isn't interested in both pleasure and conception. In fact, studies show that women who orgasm have a greater chance of conceiving than those who don't. Don't make her laugh afterward. Keeping a sense of humor during sex is always a good thing, but keep the comedy to a minimum after you ejaculate. Laughing tenses muscles that cause the semen to come out, reducing the chance of conception.

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A Dad’s Bag-Packing Checklist for the Hospital

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Pack a bag for the hospital in advance so that when your pregnant partner goes into labor, you’ll be ready to race out the door without worrying about finding deodorant and a phone charger. Your mind will be focused on the labor and new baby, so if you aren’t prepared in advance, you’ll probably forget items you wish you had. A couple of weeks before the due date, pack a bag with the following items for both you and your partner: Toiletries, including a razor Pajamas Two changes of clothes Baby clothes, including one outfit for formal pictures Change for vending machines Cash for parking Menus and phone numbers for favorite delivery foods Snacks Pillow and blanket Camera Video camera, if desired and allowed by hospital/clinic Insurance cards Cell phone and charger MP3 player/laptop (for entertainment) If you have to use any of the items before you go to the hospital, be sure to put them back in the bag when you’re done. And don’t forget to make sure you have the car seat properly installed in your vehicle so you can take baby home!

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Scheduling Prenatal Visits and Tests

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

A pregnant woman has more prenatal doctor’s appointments than you’d ever expect, but the checkups are necessary to monitor her health and the growth and health of the baby. To screen for complications, the obstetrician (OB) performs different tests on the mother and baby at various stages of the pregnancy, and the following chart lists what to expect when: Weeks Possible Tests 6 to 8 Blood type, rubella titer, blood counts, HIV antibody, syphilis, hepatitis screen, ultrasound 10 to 12 Doppler detection of fetal heart; chorionic villus sampling, if planned 11 to 14 First trimester screen/Nuchal translucency 15 to 18 Second trimester serum screen (quad screen), amniocentesis if absolutely necessary 18 to 22 Ultrasound (and the best time to determine baby’s sex if you and your partner are interested in doing so) 24 to 28 Gestational diabetes screen 28 to 36 Biweekly visits to check blood pressure, weight, urine, and fetal growth 36 to 40 Weekly visits, same as weeks 28 to 36, with a check for fetal positioning 40+ Twice-weekly visits to test fetal stress

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Dad's Guide to New Baby: Checking Diaper Contents

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Knowing how much food a breast-fed baby is getting is very difficult, especially when your partner is just starting out. To make sure baby is getting enough milk, keep track of wet and poopy diapers for the first week, taking note of the number and type of soiled diapers. Comparing your notes to the following norms can put your mind at ease or can alert you to a breast-feeding issue that may need attention: Every day, baby should dirty 8 to 12 diapers total. On day 1, poop should resemble black tar. On day 2, poop should look like brown/black tar. On day 3, poop should begin to be greenish. On day 4, poop should change to greenish yellow. On days 5 to 7, poop should be yellow. Contact your child’s pediatrician if any of the following situations occur: You see dark-colored urine after day 3. You see blackish stools after day 4. Baby has fewer than 8 wet or poopy diapers on any day.

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A Baby-Proofing Checklist

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Not all safety measures need to be in place by the time baby comes home from the hospital. But before the first six months are up, you’ll need to make sure to baby-proof with some basic safeguards installed in the following areas of your home: Stairways: Install baby gates at the top and bottom. Never use a pressure-mounted baby gate at the top of the stairs, because it may fail. Instead, opt for the wall-mounted variety. Window blinds: Trim (or better yet, remove) cords altogether to make sure they will be out of reach for years to come. Windows: If your windows are older, install child-proof locks. Never leave a child unattended around an open window — not even one with a screen, because it can’t support a child’s weight. Outlets: Insert plastic guards into all sockets below hip level. For often-used outlets, consider sliding outlet covers for easier access. Doors: When baby starts walking, install knob guards on the bathroom door and any door leading outside. Also, plastic guards that fit over the top of accordion doors will prevent pinched or cut fingers. Bathroom: A toilet seat lock is a must, but for further protection, always keep your bathroom door closed when possible. Faucet covers on the bathtub will keep baby’s mouth and head safe in case of a slip. Apply nonslip mats for extra precaution. And, of course, never leave your child unattended around water. To prevent burns, make sure your water heater is set to 120 degrees or less. Kitchen: Install cabinet locks, door locks, and oven knob covers to make it impossible for a child to turn on the burners. Add straps to the oven door to keep a child from opening it. Cook on the back burner when baby is present. Put adhesive locks on the refrigerator (and the freezer, if it’s within reach). Sharp edges: On tables, countertops, and your bed, apply corner and table edge cushions to prevent head lacerations that often require stitches.

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10 Top Tips for the Stay-at-Home Dad

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

More and more dads are making the decision to leave the workplace behind to stay at home and take care of their children. Whether you’re leaving the workforce altogether or balancing work with childcare responsibilities, it’s important that both you and your partner acknowledge that raising a child is a job. And although you aren’t pocketing a paycheck to look after your little one, managing your new role as you would a traditional career will keep you from pulling out your hair and feeling underappreciated. In fact, now that you’re working in the home, you need to treat your home like your workplace. Employ these ten essential tips to keep your new business running smoothly: Practice hands-free parenting. Multi-tasking takes on a whole new meaning when you’re home alone with a baby, especially while baby is awake and in constant need of your attention. Using a front carrier, a play mat with dangling toys, a bouncy chair, a playpen, or a swing makes it possible for you to do something else while still providing loving, excellent care for your baby. Start a habits log. Babies, like adults, aren’t 100 percent consistent about what times they eat, sleep, poop, and play every single day. To help you figure out your baby’s patterns, write down what your baby does throughout the day, including the start and end times. For bottles, keep track of how many ounces the baby eats. Knowing how much time baby generally goes between naps — and how long she naps at different times in the day — makes it easier for you to plan when you can get out, when you can make a phone call, or when you can relax. Develop a nap routine. Like it or not, you need to put your child down for naps in the same way every single day. Develop sleepy-time cues, such as turning out the lights and turning on soft music, to let your baby know that it’s time to settle down for sleep. Even playing the same song (or singing the same song) every single time before you put him down helps him learn to expect what’s coming. Creating this routine makes the nap-time process run more smoothly and cuts down on the amount of time it takes to put baby to sleep. Walk and talk. “Mobile meetings” are essential if you choose to continue having an outside job in addition to watching baby. If you live in a quiet area, you may want to talk on the phone while pushing a stroller around the neighborhood because many kids are calmed by the great outdoors and the movement of the stroller. If you must stay indoors, use the mute button on your phone. If the baby is making a fuss when you need to speak, there’s no shame in putting her in her crib, shutting the door, and stepping out into the hallway for a minute. Babies cry, and as long as you don’t put anything sharp or dangerous in the crib, she’ll be fine for a short time while you conduct your business. Get your music on. One of the most amazing things about infants is that they come out ready to adapt, mimic, and adore everything you love. Most babies find music calming and funny, and playing with toy instruments, such as a xylophone and a mallet, helps teach them about cause and effect. Nurture independence. If baby gets too used to being in the same room with you and being able to see you at all times, putting him down for a nap, leaving him with a baby sitter, or even going to the bathroom will all be more difficult. Utilize safe spaces such as playpens, his crib, and bouncy chairs, and feel free to move about your house within earshot of your child. Relax when you can. You won’t always have the option to take time for yourself when you just feel like blowing off steam, and you certainly can’t decide on a whim to take a day off. Utilize at least one nap time to its fullest extent by doing whatever activity helps you recharge your batteries and feel refreshed. Maybe it’s a shower or a nap of your own. Or maybe it’s reclaiming your passion for Internet mindlessness. Don’t spend every nap time cleaning or rushing around to finish up those last bits of work because everyone deserves a break. Personalize your business. If you continue to do outside work, don’t keep your daytime setup a secret. Make sure to schedule meetings, phone calls, and deadlines to suit the schedules of all people involved, and be honest about why you need to meet when you do. The support you get from folks when you tell them that you’re working from home to take care of your child can be both surprising and moving. Embracing your new role and personalizing your business around it can buy you patience and flexibility from others. Secure a daytime support system. Don’t wait until the need arises to have help on-call that can come in to relieve you as needed. Rely on a mix of baby sitters, friends, family members, and other stay-at-home parents in your neighborhood. To keep costs down, consider trading favors with other parents in your neighborhood — just keep in mind that this arrangement means you’ll be saddled with their kids at some point, too. No matter whom you choose, make sure both you and your partner are comfortable with that person. Plan lunches. Parenting requires a lot of energy and time, and if you don’t have food that’s ready to eat at your disposal, you’re more likely to pick up fast food, eat a candy bar rather than a meal, or skip lunch altogether. Make sure to prepare healthy meals full of protein, vegetables, and whole grains, which give you a boost of energy for the afternoon. Also, keep on hand high-protein, natural snacks, such as nuts, fruit, and granola bars, which can serve as pick-me-ups for the late-day grind.

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Your Guide to Delivery Room Jargon

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Nobody likes to feel like he doesn’t understand what’s going on, but when you enter a strange new environment — like the labor and delivery floor — it’s normal to feel completely out of your element. When it seems as if everyone is speaking a foreign language, you may feel intimidated, overwhelmed, and ready to hide behind a newspaper or magazine so you don’t have to deal with feeling or sounding like an uninformed dad. Most of the terms you’ll hear bandied about by the medical staff are fairly simple after you familiarize yourself with them. Here’s a guide to help you feel less overwhelmed and more in the know when you hit the L&D floor: Dilation: This is a number from 1 to 10 that refers to how far the cervix — the barrier between the vagina and the uterus — has opened up. Dilation is expressed in centimeters. When the staff talks about being complete, they mean completely dilated, or 10 centimeters. Effacement: Effacement also refers to the cervix, but it describes how much the cervix has thinned out, or effaced. Effacement is expressed as a percentage, such as 50 percent effaced. When the cervix is 100 percent effaced, it’s as thin as a piece of paper. A thin cervix usually dilates faster than a thicker one, which has to thin out first. Episiotomy: Also sometimes referred to as a pis (pronounced “peez”), an episiotomy is a cut into the vagina that widens the opening to make it easier for your baby to emerge. Many practitioners no longer do routine episiotomies. Hook: If the practitioner says, “Give me a hook” (no, he won’t say this to you), he’s planning on rupturing the amniotic sac with a plastic hook that snags the membranes and tears a small hole in it. Called “rupturing the membranes,” this is done to speed labor, to attach an internal lead, or to check the color of the amniotic fluid. Internal: An internal exam is a vaginal exam to check the baby’s position and the degree of dilation and effacement. If the practitioner says she’s going to “place an internal,” it means she’s going to attach a small wire to the baby’s scalp to monitor his heart rate. This is more accurate than an external monitor. Meconium: Often called “mec” and described as thick or thin, meconium is the baby’s first stool. If the baby passes meconium in the womb, it can mean he’s under stress. However, the baby can pass meconium at any time during pregnancy, and the timing doesn’t necessarily indicate that the baby is under stress right at that moment. Station: This term describes how far into the pelvis the baby has descended. Minus 3 means the baby is still floating above the pelvis and hasn’t dropped yet. The baby is on the perineum, ready to come out, at +3 station. Stat section: This means either your partner or the baby is under stress and your practitioner wants the baby out, immediately. This term inspires a flurry of action from the staff, who won’t forget about you, although it may seem like it at first.

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What Can You Feed Your Baby?

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

If you’re feeding your baby out of expensive pouches — or grinding up food for her in the food processor — you may be wondering when you can start feeding her the same food everyone else is eating. Actually, babies don’t have to eat pureed food at all; you can give them big-people food from the start as long as you give them the right types of food and avoid the dangerous ones. Yes, some foods are dangerous for babies, for a variety of reasons. When to start feeding baby solid food The American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommends waiting until your baby is between four to six months old before starting solids. Some signs that she may be ready for solids include reaching for your food or smacking her lips when she watches you eat. If you start solid foods before four months, your baby may be more likely to develop food allergies because her intestines aren’t ready to handle solid foods. The allergies she develops won’t necessarily be to the foods you give her; early introduction of solids just increases the tendency toward food allergy. Giving baby solids early to get her to sleep through the night — as in the oft-practiced putting-cereal-in-the-baby-bottle trick — doesn’t work, so don’t bother trying. What to give your baby to eat You can start with any solid food you like. Some people start with cereal because it’s bland. But wheat is actually one of the most common food allergies, so it may not be the best choice. Others start with fruit because it’s sweet, but that can make it harder to introduce less sweet foods, such as vegetables, down the line. Ultimately, you can make the choice on what to give. If your baby is old enough, you can mash well-cooked food — or throw it in the baby grinder, if it’s meat — and give her whatever you’re having. Just introduce one new food at a time, though; starting with a stew that contains a dozen different vegetables or spices isn’t a good idea because if she has a reaction, you won’t know what caused it. Wait two to three days between offering her different types of food. What food to avoid giving your baby Compared to adults, babies have a small windpipe opening. They’re also more likely to choke because they haven’t got the whole chewing and swallowing thing down yet. Because of this, don’t offer your baby foods such as hot dogs or whole grapes. Cut them up into very small pieces — like four pieces to one grape — when you do offer them. Some pediatricians recommend waiting until your baby is at least 2 before offering foods with a high choking potential. Also, avoid giving cow’s milk and juice to babies under 12 months of age. Juice is a vehicle for sugar, which babies don’t need, and prior to year 1, babies need more-nutrient-dense milk than what cows provide. Don’t give babies under 12 months honey, either. It can contain botulism spores that an infant’s digestive tract can’t neutralize yet.

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How to Pick the Perfect Name for Your Child

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

When you find out your partner has been choosing baby names since she was about 12, you may get the idea that picking a name for your baby is a Really Big Deal. And you’re right. A name is one of the first gifts you give your child, and unless he goes to court to change it, it’s a gift that lasts a lifetime. It’s easy to mess up this gift, though, by not thinking things through clearly. Prepare to put more than a few minutes of thought into this decision because your partner will want to discuss baby’s name ad infinitum, throughout the entire pregnancy, possibly even while you’re on your way to the hospital to have the baby. Here are a few common baby-naming pitfalls and how to work through them: You’re a Junior . . . or a Third . . . and want to carry on the family tradition, but your partner doesn’t. Or vice versa. Or maybe your parents assume you’ll naturally name your son Henry the Eighth because, of course, you’ll carry on the tradition. They did, so why shouldn’t you? Of all the naming issues, this one can present the most problems. Whether it’s family or religious in nature, tradition is hard to buck. But this is your baby and you can name him — this is usually a male issue — whatever you choose. Or you can bow to tradition and then call him something else, like Skip or Chip or his middle name. If you’re going back and forth over whether to give baby a family name, it may help to know that you’re only supposed to carry out the tradition as far as the number of people still living. So the fourth is about as far as you can be saddled with this. You absolutely hate each other’s choices. If this happens, the best route is that nobody wins. You pick a name you can both live with, even if it’s not your favorite. Wincing every time you say your child’s name for the next 60 years isn’t a good option. On the other hand, you can go with a sort of sexist, “I name the boys and you name the girls” thing, if you have that type of relationship. You may actually get used to your partner’s choice over time. You make a big name mistake. Not realizing that your child’s initials spell something you’d rather not see emblazoned on her briefcase in 25 years is a classic error. Alicia Suzanne Smith will not thank you down the road. The other thing to watch for is a name that doesn’t work well with your last name. Ima Hogg is a classic example here. You’re better off avoiding big name mistakes in the first place. You go too trendy. Although you may not want your child to be the only Alois in his school, he may be equally unhappy to be one of five Declans in his kindergarten class. To check the recent (and not-so recent) popularity of baby names, see the comprehensive list at the Social Security Administration website.

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