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When you discover your partner’s pregnant, you may anticipate a nine-month count down before your bit begins. Not so. We count down through the major pregnancy milestones that affect dads so you'll know what to look out for.
Whatever your reaction (shocked, delighted, angry, confused, or all four), you'll be on tenderhooks. Remember, a quarter of all pregnancies end in miscarriage within the first 12 weeks (so it may be worth holding off on public announcements until that's passed).
This takes place from about eight weeks. It's useful to attend because the doctor or midwife will need both of your medical histories. Questions may include your ethnic origin (some conditions are more prevalent in some ethnic groups) and any medical conditions that run in the family.
The first ultra sound scan (to see if your baby is developing normally) is carried out in the hospital after 12 weeks. You'll see your baby moving and the little heart pumping away. This may be the first time it really dawns that you will be a dad. Not one to be missed (and make sure you get a printout)!
You may not want to know, but after 16 or 17 weeks your baby's sex can be determined. Sometimes they get it wrong.
The second ultra sound scan takes place between weeks 20 and 22. This time you can see your baby sucking his thumb and stroking his face.
He's starting to get busy – moving, kicking, stretching, punching – and you will soon be able to feel his first kicks. Patting your partner's tummy may prompt a good kick.
Your baby will react to sound and learn to distinguish voices by pitch and cadence, including your own. Deeper male voices are easier for the your baby to hear than higher pitched female voices. So, start talking… and singing.
You're entitled to two weeks' paid statutory paternity leave at £117.18 per week (or 90 per cent of weekly average if this is lower). Let your employer know in writing 15 weeks before the baby is due. Many companies offer better paternity leave than the statutory minimum.
Most fathers join their partners at childbirth classes. You'll come across other soon-to-be parents and learn the basics: what happens during labour, when to call the hospital, relaxation techniques, pain relief, Caesareans and taking care of a new baby.
Be clear what your partner wants. A normal hospital birth or active birth? Her chosen posture for delivery? Pain relief? Write it down, along with a list of emergency numbers (including family and friends).
Full term is 40 weeks but 95 per cent of babies are early or late, so …remain in regular contact, pack an emergency bag and know the quickest way to hospital.