What to expect

What to Expect



What is Secure Attachment?

A secure attachment is the deep and lasting connection that babies form with their caregiver(s). Babies need to feel safe, cared for and protected. They need their caregiver(s) to be physically and emotionally available. This helps meet their needs in a warm, sensitive, and consistent way. 

Connecting with your baby while you are pregnant will help you prepare for their arrival. Attachment is for life, but happens mostly in the first year of your baby's life. How caregivers respond to and behave towards their babies can affect this lifelong bond.

 How to form a secure attachment

Have you ever asked yourself things like:

  • "I wonder what my baby is thinking or feeling."
  • "How will I show my baby how much I care?" or
  • "How will I meet my baby's attachment needs"?

There are many things that you and your partner can do to build a secure attachment while you are pregnant. You can:

  • Think about your growing baby and talk, sing, and read to them.
  • Make a note about your baby's movements. Rub your belly and talk to them at the same time.
  • Keep a diary or journal of your thoughts and feelings.
  • Take time for yourself. Find activities such as prenatal yoga to help you manage stress.
  • Think of things you and your baby will do after they are born.

 Why is Secure Attachment Important?

When you respond to your baby's needs, your baby will respond to you. You will see that it gets easier to soothe them. They will want to be near you and react to you. This secure attachment is the first way that babies learn to sort out their feelings and their actions. This is the foundation. It lets your baby explore the world and have a safe place to come back to. Secure attachment also helps your baby learn how to trust other people. It is an important part of developing healthy relationships for later in life.

Prenatal visits

 Early prenatal care is important in helping you have the healthiest pregnancy and baby possible.

How often are the health care provider visits?

  • During most of the pregnancy, once every 4 weeks.
  • Once every 2 to 3 weeks after 30 weeks.
  • Every 1 to 2 weeks starting after 36 weeks until labour starts.
  • There will be extra visits made if mother needs extra care. If mother has any special concerns or questions she can also make extra visits.

Book the first visit as soon as you know you are pregnant. It is important for a partner or support person to go to the visit too. The first visit is longer than the others. You will have a full check-up and talk about your health history. Your health care provider will calculate your baby's due date.

 What will the health care provider ask about at the first prenatal visit?

  • Any physical concerns and problems you are having.
  • Your eating and exercise habits.
  • Stress in your life.
  • Your immunization record.
  • Use of prescription and other drugs during pregnancy (including over the counter medicines).
  • Tobacco or alcohol use.
  • Prenatal testing and genetic counselling.

At the first visit or soon after, the health care provider may want to do a pap smear. A pap test checks for abnormal cells of the cervix. You may have tests done to check for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). You will also have blood tests done, especially if this is your first pregnancy. You may have blood tests done again later in the pregnancy.

 What will happen at the prenatal visits?

  • A urine test.
  • Weight check.
  • Blood pressure check.
  • Stomach examined and measured.
  • Checking of baby's heart rate.

Parents-to-be should have enough time with their health care provider to get all of their questions answered. Prepare for your appointment by writing out your questions ahead of time.

Nausea and vomiting in pregnancy

Over 50% of pregnant women will have nausea and vomiting in pregnancy (NVP). Another name for NVP is morning sickness. Morning sickness is more common in the morning but can happen any time of the day. The exact causes of NVP are not known but changes in your hormone levels could play a role. You can also feel nauseous if your blood sugar is low and if you are tense, worried or tired.

Morning sickness can last from about the 4 th to 14 th week of pregnancy. It can last longer; sometimes the entire pregnancy.

What can you do to feel better?

  • Take your time getting out of bed in the morning.
  • Eat dry toast or crackers before getting out of bed in the morning.
  • Eat small meals and snacks often in the day so your stomach does not get empty.
  • Open windows and turn on the stove fan when cooking .
  • Drink small amounts of fluid often during the day.
  • Don't drink fluids during, just before or right after a meal.
  • Don't skip meals.
  • Get enough sleep, and nap when you can.

Nausea and vomiting in pregnancy isn't usually harmful to you or your baby. You should talk to your health care provider if:

  • You are so sick you are missing meals every day.
  • You cannot drink enough liquids.
  • You are not peeing often or your urine is dark yellow.
  • You are losing weight.
Dental health in pregnancy

Keeping your teeth and gums healthy during pregnancy has many benefits for you and your baby.

 Did you know?

  • Morning sickness can leave stomach acids in your mouth that can damage the surfaces of your teeth.
  • Changes in hormone levels during pregnancy can cause swollen gums that bleed when you brush and floss.
  • Having gum disease or an infection can put you at higher risk of having a baby born too early or too small.

Regular dental cleanings and check-ups are important before, during and after pregnancy. Make sure to tell your dentist and hygienist that you are pregnant. You may want to wait until after the baby is born to have your routine dental x-rays. Talk to your dentist and health care provider before taking any drugs or medications in pregnancy.

 What can you do to keep your teeth and gums healthy?

  • Brush your teeth and gums with a soft toothbrush twice a day. Use a small amount of fluoride toothpaste. Also, gently brush your tongue.
  • Gently floss every day to remove plaque from between your teeth and gums. If your gums bleed, keep flossing.
  • Eat healthy foods and avoid sweets.
  • If you gag when brushing use a small, child-sized toothbrush. Also lean your head down and over the sink. This helps relax the throat and allows the saliva to flow out.
  • If you have morning sickness, rinse your mouth with tap water or a fluoride rinse after vomiting. This will help protect your teeth from the stomach acids.

How to Brush your Teeth - Ottawa Public Health 

How to Floss your Teeth - Ottawa Public Health

What to expect as a Father

When your baby arrives you may feel:

  • drained
  • worried
  • proud and happy
  • stressed

You may be wondering how to support your partner once your child is born. It is important to know that breastfeeding is the only part of new baby care you cannot do! You can do little things that mean a lot.

  • Make time for skin-to-skin with your baby.
  • Bring home supper or offer to prepare meals.
  • Hold your baby to soothe and calm them when they cry. This will help you bond with your baby and promote attachment.
  • Give your partner a chance to take a bath or shower.
  • Throw in a load of laundry, vacuum, and do dishes.
  • Take the children to get groceries with you.
  • Change diapers and bathe your children.
  • Burp your baby.
  • Bring home flowers.
  • Spend time together and talk to each other.
  • Keep your sense of humour.

The postpartum period is a change for you all. Remember, you are learning what may be the hardest job that you will ever have to do. It is okay to tell someone that you are feeling tired and overwhelmed. Talk to other fathers and/or visit:

24-Hour Cribside Assistance was made by dads, for dads. You can get answers to basic questions about babies, new moms and new dads.

Dad Central Ontario gives you information and offers free booklets and articles. You will also find links to fathering websites from around the world. 

The Parent Resource Centre has a Parent Education Calendar. This helps you to find parenting workshops and playgroups from birth to 6 years of age. Most programs are open to all parents and some are just for dads.

Do you have more questions about parenting?

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