Just like maternal instinct, the paternal version doesn’t always magically appear as soon as you’re pregnant. But don’t stress – arm your partner with strategies to help him connect with your baby
1 Boost his hormones
Encourage your partner’s production of oxytocin (the love hormone), which makes him feel connected to the people around him. ‘Just getting him to rub your bump - or hold a hand on it when your baby is moving - will kick-start this,’ says Gayle Berry, founder of baby massage company Blossom & Berry.
2 Have a chat
Talking to your tummy boosts your baby’s ability to detect subtle differences in sounds after he’s born, so he’ll recognise the voices he’s heard, says new research. If your partner feels self-conscious, he could record himself on your phone, so you can play it when he’s not around.
3 Put pen to paper
'It’s all about being an active participant in your pregnancy, which will help him bond'
Writing a letter to his baby lets him imagine your child in the future and his life as a dad. Until birth, it can be hard for him to feel it’s all real. ‘It’s about being an active participant in your pregnancy, which will help him bond,’ says psychologist Emma Kenny.
4 Get the inside info
If you’re happy to find out your baby’s gender at your 20 week scan, ask your doctor to reveal it to your partner first, then he can tell you. ‘It gives him that thrilling responsibility of sharing the news,’ says Emma. ‘Also, suggest he comes up with a nickname for your bump to heighten the excitement.’
5 Talk to other dads
His own. His friends. The IT guy at work. ‘Hearing what mattered to other dads and sharing stories is comforting, especially as your partner starts picturing himself as a father,’ says Emma. And, while he’s talking babies at the pub, you can plough through that Game Of Thrones box set.
6 Light up your bump
When you’re in the last trimester and your baby is moving around regularly, stimulate his responses by playing this simple game when your partner is around to enjoy it. ‘Turn out the lights and gently shine a torch on your stomach, slowly moving it around. Some babies will turn towards the light, while others turn away,’ says GP Philippa Kaye, author of Your Pregnancy Week by Week, (£11.99, Vermilion).
7 Have a group session
Lie down facing your partner with your baby between you. ‘Having a cuddle together is an opportunity for skin-to-skin contact with your newborn, but this can also get your partner involved,’ says relationship psychologist Susan Quilliam. Don’t drop off this way, though – The Lullaby Trust recommends your baby sleeps in a cot or Moses basket for at least the first six months.
How did you encourage your partner to feel involved with your pregnancy and birth? Let us know in the comments box below.