A guys guide to having a baby
Taboo thought No. 2
"I'm not attracted to my wife anymore now that she's pregnant."
There's no question your wife's body and, to some degree, her personality go through major changes during pregnancy. Many men feel conflicted about this. On one hand, they want to protect the mother of their child; on the other, they don't particularly want to have sex with her or deal with her Jekyll-and-Hyde behavior. "There's just something a bit strange about the baby being right down there when we have sex," says Malcolm*, whose wife is pregnant with their first child. "Plus, I'm not really a boob man, but now suddenly she's vavavoom."
The key to working through thoughts like this is to, first, stop beating yourself up about having them, Haltzman says. "Men are visually oriented, and there may be fewer visual cues to trigger lust in you," he explains. Second, he says, you need to adjust your attitude: "Stop looking at your wife's new curves as unsexy and start looking at them as a sign of your virility and your way of telling the world that your dynasty will live on." Also, try not to focus all your attention on the physical changes you don't like--a lot of very sexy things also happen to a pregnant woman: Her hair becomes more luxurious, her skin is smoother and softer, and some women even have increased sensitivity down below.
As for her mood shifts, don't take them so personally. Your wife's hormones are going haywire; she's sleep-deprived, possibly anxious and/or depressed; and highly uncomfortable, according to Stuart Fischbein, M.D., author of Fearless Pregnancy (Fair Winds Press, 2004). Her emotional state will likely improve in the months after she gives birth as her body and hormones get back to normal.
Taboo thought No. 3
"I don't want to watch the birth."
Long gone are the days when expecting dads would pace around outside the delivery room with a box of cigars waiting for the doctor to announce, "It's a girl!" Somewhere along the line, men became an integral part of the birthing routine--blood, umbilical cord, placenta and all. But many men are downright squeamish about what they may see.
"I made two mistakes before the birth of my first child," confesses Kurt*, a father of two. "First, I went to Lamaze class and watched the birthing video. Second, I watched a tape of my nephew's birth, in which my brother, who was holding the camera, passed out." But, as with the vast majority of men, Kurt's actual experience wasn't so bad. "The birth was really pretty cool," he says. "There was a lot less blood than I thought."
Still squeamish? It's perfectly OK to stand at the head of the bed, holding your wife's hand, while the doctor and nurses take care of business below. And if you really, really fear that even being in the delivery room will create images in your head that might interfere with your sex life later, maybe your wife, and you, would be happier if a doula, her mother or best friend were at her side instead. Just talk about it with her before she goes into labor. (For more on this, see "Bedroom Blues" below)