Use ACH to pay bills during pregnancy

The latter months of pregnancy are often very busy with last minute preparation for the forthcoming little one. That full schedule will not ease up after the birth of a child either, and sleep deprivation makes it more difficult to remember little details that don't involve diapers and formula. It seems as though the world revolves solely around the expectant family or newly arrived treasure, but banks, utility companies and credit card companies don't see it in quite the same way.

One highly effective tool for managing time and personal productivity is to use automatic bill payments (especially while caring for/dealing with a pregnant woman and making sure the baby room is prepared). Often known as ACH, automatic bill payments simply deduct the amount owed from one's checking account on a predetermined date on a recurring basis. This service is quite often free and available for sign up through a vendor's website. It typically requires an electronic 'signature' and your checking account number and bank routing number. Certain places require paper forms to be signed and mailed, but it's worth the effort.

Not only does using automatic payments reduce the overhead involved with managing your finances, it helps make sure that you won't miss a payment date. As such, it prevents potential damage to your credit score because of an honest, fatigue-induced mistake. For variable payments (e.g. credit cards) for which the amount is not the same every month, I prefer to set the automatic payment to the minimum so I don't miss any deadlines and then initiate additional payments manually, after the fact.

This approach to personal finances saves time, effort, the cost of stamps and envelopes and makes sure there's never any question about whether or not a bill was paid on time or a check lost in the mail. Some credit card companies will charge a $35 late fee if your payment is even 1 hour past their cut off time; ACH prevents that from being an issue.

Many vendors allow you to change your payment date if you're worried about scheduling your payments around paychecks. I make entries in my Google Calendar for each automatic payment, and set up text message or email notifications on the payment date so I can balance my checking account.

Bills that often can be paid automatically each month include:
- auto insurance
- cable television
- car payments (set up through bank)
- credit card (if carrying a balance)
- life insurance
- phone
- utilities

Talking to the pregnant belly, revisited

Throughout my wife's pregnancy I spoke to her belly, more specifically the baby within the big pregnant belly, on a fairly regular basis. From the beginning I felt that by talking to him in utero he would develop an affinity for his father's voice once he was born.

After months of chatter I have to say that, in my estimation, it worked and was a worthwhile expenditure of time.

Within moments of my son's delivery he was handed to me, and after speaking only a few words, my baby boy quickly calmed down. A nurse and a doctor commented on his reaction without prompting which was all the validation I needed for my "talking to a pregnant belly" hypothesis. These days, at the ripe old age of 10 days, he quiets quickly with a few words from dad when he's in the middle of a diaper or hunger-fueled crying jag.

I admit it's not scientifically airtight; I had no control group for this experiment. My wife would have been furious if I were simultaneously having a child with a different woman for the sake of a making a point, so I leave it to educated assumption and the opinion of professionals to draw my conclusion.

Among expectant fathers I'm not alone; many men talk to their pregnant partner's belly. Of those dads-to-be who answered the Almost A Dad ongoing survey for expectant fathers, more than 77% of expectant fathers carry on belly talk with relative frequency. More than a quarter of all respondents do so every day.

I never talked about much of anything of much importance; the events of my day, made up songs, anything that came to mind. My suggestion is that all expectant dads, if so inclined, should take a minute or two per day to talk to their partner's pregnant belly.

Prenatal checklist: Chest freezer

A chest freezer may sound like an odd item on Dad's prenatal checklist, but if you have the space for and means to buy a chest freezer, I highly recommend it. A chest freezer allows you to buy in bulk, prepare in advance and stock up on extra until such a point that the bundle of joy is more mobile. If you are short on space to fit a freezer, you can always throw a changing pad on top and use it as a changing table for the baby.

Since coming home from the hospital after the birth of our son, we've gotten large quantities of food from family, friends and neighbors. It's been so much that it far exceeds the capacity of the freezer compartment of our refrigerator. We would never be able to finish it all before it spoils, yet will definitely eat it in the near future, so we stuck it all in our chest freezer. In addition to helping manage the influx of gifted foods, it allowed us to stock up on things before the baby ever arrived.

As part of the nesting instinct, expect that your wife or partner may buy extras of everything in preparation for your new arrival. A chest freezer helps accommodate any extra groceries that make their way into your home. Remember, you may not be able to get to the grocery store with pre-baby ease and frequency. You can leave a pregnant woman alone for short periods of time, but you can't do the same with a newborn.

Getting things done becomes a much more difficult proposition. Every errand you need to accomplish takes on new logistical weight, food shopping included. You're not supposed to take newborn babies out into crowded public places like shopping centers for a least a month, so you can't just bundle him or her up and take them with you. In the case of a c-section birth, the mother's recovery time will be much longer and will need much more help, again making trips out of the house more difficult.

Some foods that freeze well, or can be purchased frozen, include:

- meat
- poultry
- fish
- breads
- soups and stews
- baked goods, cookies, unfrosted cakes
- casseroles
- lasagna
- spaghetti sauce
- juice concentrate
- pre-made dinners
The function of a chest freezer is just as useful as your child ages and the amount of food you consume on a regular basis may exceed the store you have available in a refrigerator or freezer.
Big box stores like Best Buy and Home Depot usually have small chest freezers for anywhere from $150 on up.

My baby boy

8 pounds, 7 ounces after a whopping 33 hours of labor. My wife was amazing and so is our little boy.

Thank you to all of you for your well wishes... I'll be back posting soon!

The Jeffersons Birth Song

On a regular basis I talk to my wife's pregnant belly. And yes, I do realize how ridiculous I look but I don't really care. In fact, I relish the ridiculous and often embellish it with the gift of song. I would now like to share with you one of my recent masterpieces.

Classless, yes. Offensive, slightly. Waiting for his arrival is killing me and this is the level to which I've regressed.

This is a song about birth, sung to the tune of The Jeffersons theme song.

Well he's a movin' on down, (movin' on down),
To the south side
through a deluxe compartment, in her thi-i-ighs.

He's a movin' on down,
To the south side,
He finally gets to see to whats outside.

Gotta get past the cervix,
Down through that birth canal
Takes a whole lot of tryin'
Just to come join this world

Now we're waitin' for our child,
Just can't wait for that.
As long as we live, it's you and me baby,
There ain't nothin' wrong with that.

Well he's a movin' on down, (movin' on down),
To the south side
through a deluxe compartment, in her thi-i-ighs.

Baby due date accuracy

Since the beginning of my wife's pregnancy I have been somewhat suspicious of how accurate delivery due dates are.

Well, in fact only about 5% of all babies are born on their due dates, with estimates ranging from as low as 2% to as high as 8%. Whatever the number, my wife is not among the few of every hundred women who deliver on their target date.

Visit the Almost A Dad Amazon store!

For those of you looking for gifts for pregnant women and expectant dads, including books, maternity aides and baby gear, look no further than the Almost A Dad Amazon store!

With items suggested by real live pregnant women, the Almost A Dad store has everything you'll need to keep the pregnant women in your life informed, comfortable and happy.

Sleep habits of fruit bats and pregnant women

Owls. Fruit bats. Vampires. Pregnant women.

What do these creatures have in common? None of them sleep well at night and, in the case of pregnant women, neither do their partners.

A pea-sized bladder, sore back, indigestion, swollen ankles and tender breasts are ingredients in the uncomfortable cocktail that makes pregnant women sleep poorly. They all add up to interrupted sleep on the part of the pregnant woman and, by proxy, the expectant father will not sleep well either. Dads-to-be should make sure that in the months prior to the birth they eat a balanced diet and try to maintain a regular sleep schedule so they are not completely fatigued and unhealthy before the little one arrives.

This may be nature's way of preparing the new parent for many sleepless nights ahead. I would however much prefer being woken by my new, adorable (as he will of course be) son than by my wife's huffing and puffing as she struggles to roll out of bed. I'm actually looking forward to being woken by the little one, for now it's the wife that's driving me to exhaustion.

Prenatal checklist: Stock up on batteries

Since I have begun assembling the army of baby paraphernalia, cribs, bouncy seats, mobiles, monitors, soothers, I have come to the realization that I will need 8,247 AA batteries to power everything.

Anything that vibrates, blinks, plays music, makes noise when kicked or lights up will require AA batteries, usually between 4 and 6 each. Some use C's, some use D's, but they're all energy thirsty.

I strongly suggest stocking up on some batteries before the big day to make sure your fleet of baby and pregnancy-related items are powered and ready to roll, blink or buzz. I prefer to use rechargeables because they save money over time and are better for the environment. I've got a bunch of chargers going just to make sure we're all set.

If you're looking to buys some, Amazon has the Sony Quick Battery Charger with 4 AA Ni-MH Rechargeable Batteries for $19.49, which I think is well worth the cost. Add another 4 batteries in there to make sure you always have enough on reserve, and you should be set for a while.

My pregnant wife says: L'Occitane organic shea butter helps prevent stretch marks

Fear of stretch marks ranks high with many expectant mothers on their list of concerns about pregnancy; my wife is no exception. As soon as she found out she was pregnant she began moisturizing her belly with religious fervor, as though it were made of gator hide. Not only was she concerned about stretch marks, but as her tummy grew larger her skin in that area began to itch and become more sensitive.

While waiting for a train home from a New York business trip, I stopped in to L'Occitane in Grand Central Station to pick her up a small gift before my return. She loves that brand and as a newly invigorated skin care addict, I thought something from there would be an appropriate present. I set out to find shea butter as that was the one product I actually recalled her mentioning. However, when I first saw the price on the tin I was sure that it must include a personal masseuse to apply the moisturizer. That was not the case.

In spite of my initial sticker shock I ended up buying the shea butter because I wanted to get something for her and thought this was a fairly practical choice. (She loved it, so it was worth it.) I must say, while I would normally consider $39 for a tin of moisturizer to be high, it has lasted for six months and counting, and has preserved her tummy with baby's-bottom smoothness. (I talk to it all the time, so I know.) It's also organic, which is especially comforting during pregnancy to know that she's not slathering herself in potentially harmfully chemicals.

My wife strongly suggests the L'Occitane Pure Organic Shea Butter, and has added it to her Christmas wish list. So, if any of you guys are looking for a gift idea, there it is. It's available through Amazon for $39.

low-toxicity paints for nurseries

It's been a long time coming, but the reconstruction of our baby's nursery is nearly complete. The walls are sheetrocked and primed. The floors are sanded, stained and in the process of being coated with hydrathane.

In the interest of forming a healthier environment for our little one, we went with low toxic floor and wall coverings. Specifically we bought paints with a low volatile organic compound (VOC) content, and a floor varnish alternative to poly-urethane.

For the wall paint we used the Benjamin Moore Eco Spec paints which are listed to have a VOC content of under 1 gram per liter. Some other popular paint brands include Sherwin Williams and Pratt and Lambert. The paints are cost more, but I find it well worth the expense in consideration of my child's health. According to the EPA, the health effects of VOCs include:

Eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches, loss of coordination, nausea; damage to liver, kidney, and central nervous system. Some organics can cause cancer in animals; some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans. Key signs or symptoms associated with exposure to VOCs include conjunctival irritation, nose and throat discomfort, headache, allergic skin reaction, dyspnea, declines in serum cholinesterase levels, nausea, emesis, epistaxis, fatigue, dizziness.
These are things an adult should not deal with, clearly I do not wish to subject an infant to them. has some more information on other brands of low VOC paints.

In addition, it's a good rule-of-thumb to allow a nursery painted with traditional paints (not with low VOC paints) to air out for at least a full month before a baby sleeps in it.

We used hydrathane, a water-based varnish, in place of standard poly-urethane on the wood floors at the advice of a gentleman at the hardware store. He informed me that it's more environmentally friendly, has less odor and is less toxic. The odor during application is significantly less than standard poly.

If you're in the process of redoing a nursery, I encourage you to seek out alternative materials that will make sure your child has a healthy start.

A bloody show is not an English musical

Along your journey as an expectant father, you will hear the term 'bloody show' used. No, it's not referring to an English play or musical, and yes, it will most likely make you cringe when you hear it for the first time. That's why I put if on my list of top 10 pregnancy terms that make men (and women) cringe).

The term is used to describe the presence of a small amount of blood in mucousy discharge a few days prior to birth. It often may accompany the mucous plug or pass gradually, but usually is an indicator that labor will begin within a few days.

If there is more than a few spots, a pregnant woman should call her doctor and let them know.

How far apart do contractions have to be before...

One question that many fathers have is how far apart should a pregnant woman's contractions be before going to the hospital?

For most normal pregnancies with no extenuating circumstances, doctors will tell you that you should not come to the hospital until contractions are 5 minutes apart for an hour.

However, you or the expectant mother should personally check with her doctor to make sure they agree with this estimate. There may be concerns which may cause them to increase or decrease this estimate. Other considerations include how far you live from where you will be delivering, i.e., can you get there quickly if you wait too long, or should you leave sooner if you live far away.

Another big consideration is that if your partner is admitted with false labor, your health insurance company will charge you a co-pay or deductible for the false start as well as the real thing. Depending on your insurance, this will be hundreds of dollars, if not over a thousand. If you don't have health insurance, it could cost you more out of pocket. So make sure you check with you doctor first and do some investigating into the policies of the hospital and the insurance company.

Pregnant care quick tip: rearrange high shelving

As your pregnant partner becomes more circular, her mobility, balance and physical dexterity often suffer. Her center of balance is off, she is often fatigued, uncomfortable and sore.

Not only is this a danger to anything fragile in the near vicinity of a pregnant woman, it is often the root of some danger to her. One way to mitigate this risk is to rearrange higher shelved items that she uses frequently. This avoids situations where an expectant mother will have to stretch to reach overhead items, subsequently placing her balance in question and potentially risking a fall. Depending on how far along she is, placing difficult-to-reach items at a lower, more manageable level may also eliminate any 'belly problems', from the discomfort of stretching skin to knocking into/over items on lower shelves or surfaces.

It's a relatively easy fix, but just make sure it doesn't coincide with her nesting during pregnancy, or that she's completely unaware of what you're doing. She may be incredibly frustrated if you rearrange how she has everything set up. This will also come in handy after the little one arrives and either of you are reaching for things with a baby in one arm.

A pregnant woman is... 60 things about expectant mothers

Pregnant women are complex. Words almost fail when trying to accurately describe one of these mysterious creatures. Accordingly, I have assembled a list of sixty easily digestible terms which describe some of the many facets of expectant mothers.

Some of these adjectives are things they experience personally while some of these are traits they exhibit, but all are common in pregnant women.

I will try to delve into more detail as I go on, but until then....

A pregnant woman is...

1. adoring you
2. angry at you
3. awesome
4. beautiful
5. changing constantly
6. cleaning
7. clingy
8. clumsy
9. complex
10. confused
11. constantly peeing
12. crampy
13. cranky
14. craving something
15. crying
16. emotional
17. excited
18. exhausted
19. expensive
20. full
21. forgetful
22. forgetful
23. frustrating
24. gassy
25. goofy
26. happy
27. having strange dreams
28. head-achy
29. hormonal
30. hungry
31. impatient
32. irritable
33. itchy
34. laughing
35. loving you
36. moody
37. nauseous
38. needy
39. nervous
40. nesting
41. nostalgic
42. not in control of their own bodies (baby is)
43. not sleeping well
44. out of breath
45. protruding
46. sad
47. scared
48. self conscious
49. sentimental
50. serious
51. sexy
52. silly
53. slowing down
54. sore
55. stuffy
56. thirsty
57. tired
58. unable to touch her toes
59. unhappy with your name choices
60. volatile

The most common pregnancy craving

"Aren't you done yet?" [to fetus]

"Alright, already. Are you ever coming out?" [to fetus]

"I think he's tap dancing on my bladder."

"I'm so full of baby."

"Oh my gosh, I can't believe that I've started waddling!"

These are quotes from pregnant women in the late stages of the third trimester. They're indicative of the fact that expectant women get uncomfortable and impatient as they grow larger and just want the delivery date to hurry up and arrive. One quote that sums up all of these comes from Phyllis Diller:

By far the most common craving of pregnant women is not to be pregnant.

As pregnancy progresses, it's important to be conscious of just how uncomfortable pregnant women are. You should really begin to step up how much help you're giving her. Her feet hurt, she tires easily and has trouble standing up from couches or chairs. At this point you may have to wait on her hand and foot, and it's not because she's lazy, she's just plain unable.

So keep in mind that she's feeling physically limited and mentally frustrated if she yells at you or (or the refrigerator), or just asks for a little more help. She may not express them all, but there are many things that pregnant women wish men knew.

Prenatal purchases: cameras

A good digital camera is a must-have on the list of items to get before the arrival of your baby. A high quality digital camera is worth saving up for and spending a couple extra bucks on. If possible, try a digital SLR camera, the picture quality is exceptional and you can change lenses if you get involved with more advanced photography.

If spending money on a new camera is out of the question, buy a bunch of disposable cameras and throw them in her hospital bag in advance just to make sure you have pictures of your new bundle of joy on the big day. If you've already got a camera, make sure it's charged and got memory space so it's ready to travel quickly as the due date approaches.

I love to take pictures and I'm sure our child will be one of the most photographed people ever, so I decided to get an SLR. I saved up for months in advance and bought a Canon Digital Rebel XT 8MP Digital SLR with an 18-55mm lens and I am thrilled with the quality of the photos. It's on the less expensive end of the digital SLRs available on the market today and offers a great value for someone looking for high quality digital without spending a fortune. I got a 2 gigabyte flash card to go along with it so I can take hundreds of photos before ever having to download them to my computer, meaning I can snap tons of pics before the baby ever gets home from the hospital.

There are tons of cameras out there, in an incredibly wide price range. You can get great digital cameras for less than $100 these days. The Rebel XT is about $520 from Amazon, but if you're looking for something cheaper (or more expensive) check out the digital camera reviews at Livingroom's photolog to see what might be a good fit for you.

Regardless of how much you spend, you'll end up with priceless pictures of your newborn. Whatever you go with, make sure you have plenty of charged batteries and an empty memory card or rolls of film in anticipation of the big day.

Nesting during pregnancy.

Over the past several months I've heard repeated stories of the "nesting instinct" in the later stages of pregnancy. The behavior typically includes the pregnant woman obsessively cleaning and organizing the home before the arrival of the bundle of joy. The way it was labeled an "instinct" made me think of how my dog digs at the rug and circles before laying down, or how birds collect bits of straw and other materials to insulate a nest for winter. After experiencing nesting first hand, I would no longer be surprised to see my wife doing either of these things.

I never discounted the phenomenon, but when I heard about the "nesting" phenomenon in pregnant women I didn't think it would apply to my wife. My thinking was the she already cleans everything to a surgically appropriate level, so she couldn't possibly clean or organize any further.

I was wrong.

In the past couple of weeks she has been taking a very active approach towards cleaning and organizing our house. She he been throwing things out on a regular basis to make sure we have enough room for the baby. I'm not quite sure how large she expects the child to be, but we have sufficient space just in case she births a linebacker.

My wife now cleans things with greater frequency and gets increasingly agitated if I interact with the sterile environment she is trying to create. I am frequently seen as the source of things that need to be cleaned. I feel guilty moving pillows out of place to sit down.

She has washed clothes and reorganized the baby's dresser multiple times, apparently using some derivative of the Dewey Decimal System to classify every tiny piece of clothing . Each time she makes a change to the drawers she wants to show me what she's done, but it still looks the same to me. The difference is imperceptible without a micrometer, but she knows exactly in which part of which stack of fuzzy items the organic cotton onesies are located and where to find the towel with the duck head. Meanwhile, I have trouble matching two of my own socks, so there's no way I'm going to be able to maintain this level of smooth, cotton perfection.

My wife has also hinted at redecorating and moving major pieces of furniture, to which I say nothing but hope pregnancy fatigue overcomes her before she makes our house unrecognizable.

Nesting during pregnancy is actually somewhat endearing, the things that you expectant fathers should expect, plan for and participate in include

- Increased house cleaning
- Getting the nursery ready
- Reorganization of furniture, cabinets, shoes, your life
- Packing a hospital bag that has the contents for a 3 week stay
- Buying diapers

Just make sure she stays away from caustic cleaning substances that can be harmful to the baby or exposure to paint fumes which have harmful volatile organic chemicals (VOCs).

If any of you have any experiences with nesting during pregnancy, please leave them in a comment, I'd love to hear them.

Quick tip: How to ease foot pain in pregnant women.

The additional weight that expectant mothers carry begins to manifest itself clearly in the forms of aches and pains during the third trimester of pregnancy. Joints stiffen and ache and the feet in particular bear the brunt of the extra structural punishment.

Foot pain often leads to discomfort in other areas of the body, particularly the knees and back. This is one of the reasons why foot massage is at the top of many pregnant women's wish lists. It's a great way to help relieve the tension and pain that builds up in pregnant women's feet. I've detailed the pregnancy foot massage that I do for my wife and she hasn't stopped asking for one ever since.

While a massage is an effective cure, you know what they say about an ounce of prevention. On that note, an inexpensive and easy way to help mitigate sore feet for your pregnant partner is to buy her a pair of supportive shoe insoles. Shoe insoles help support the arch, increase stability and dissipate the shock to the heel and ball of the foot.

You can find a pair of comfort insoles online or at mostly any drugstore or supermarket for $10 - $25. Dr. Scholl's now makes insoles designed for open toed shoes. While insoles may not completely eliminate foot fatigue and soreness, combined with massage it will make the time a pregnant woman spends on her feet a little less painful.

Pregnancy quotes, right from the source

For a person who does not have first-hand experience with the hormonal shifts of a pregnant woman, it can be hard to believe that it will happen. Some pregnant women are irritable, some yell at their partners, while other expectant mothers are just surly. Some may not have any visible hormonal outbursts at all.

I have been lucky personally in that my wife has not had too extreme of an emotional roller coaster while pregnant. She swore at the refrigerator and had a few small hormonal episodes, but nothing too major. Sure, I've gone to bed a few nights and wondered if I would see the light of day, but overall nothing too bad.

That said, I would like to share some admissions from moms and pregnant women about their hormones during pregnancy and things they've said or done to their partners during a hormonally charged state. The answers are from a survey I posted on Yahoo! Answers.

1. Well, I suspected I was pregnant with baby number 2 when I threw a full out tantrum in the middle of the mall because Pretzel Time didn't accept credit cards.... my poor husband was so embarrassed. I've never wanted anything so badly in my life, sure enough, a week later, I got a positive pregnancy test.

2. I yell at him a lot and question everything he does.

3. I cry every time we argue. And sometimes I get mad at him and start an argument when its not necessary. Then I tell him he needs to not argue back so it doesn't upset me and that makes me cry more.

Poor guy! he's so confused...but he understands its my hormones. and when I've calmed down, i explain why.

4. I cant stand the smell of my husband! Every time he is near me I feel sick (he is very clean so it's not a hygiene thing) but he gets pis*ed of because I do everything to stay away from him when he gets home and I don't know how to tell him.

5. Even though he tons of things for me, I STILL yelled at him, and I feel really horrible about it now! I found that if I had problems with other people or just a bad day in general, I took it out on him even though he didn't deserve it.

6. I think that the weird thing that I did was to get absolutely furious at him for not buying a crib and mattress while we were shopping for the (very sane) reason that they would not fit in the car. I basically tearfully accused him of not caring about the baby and not wanting to be ready for the baby. I went on about having done all the planning and all he had to do was to carry the stupid thing out to the car.

He wisely said nothing, let me cry it out, and then said, "C'mon. We have been doing too much. You are tired out."

I then cried even harder while I apologized for being such a silly, selfish, unreasonable beast.

Everyone's experience is different, but expectant fathers should be fully aware that hormones may rear their ugly head at any time during pregnancy. Do keep in mind that pregnancy is a wonderful time and pregnant women are beautiful, so tell her.

More pregnancy quotes:
Quotes from pregnant women
Pregnant women are irritable, a quote
The most common pregnancy craving
Nibbling fetus, a quote

Quick tip: Use band aids to hide protruding belly buttons

If your pregnant partner is self conscious about a protruding belly button during the later stages of pregnancy, suggest she try a band aid on her stomach. Applying a band aid across her navel will make the little turkey timer belly button less visible to others through clothing.

It's a great way to help her feel better about herself, and just tell her all the Hollywood stars do it!

Pregnancy nutrition roundup - food tips and suggestions for pregnancy

I think that proper nutrition is elemental to a healthy pregnancy, but a myriad of changes in appetite and food safety restrictions present difficulties. Accordingly I've assembled some of the topics I've covered in relation to diet for pregnancy.

Food safety questions
Is cottage cheese safe for pregnant women?
Is honey safe for pregnant women?

Nutrition and diet tips and suggestions
Quick nutrition for pregnant women
Top 10 pregnancy comfort foods
Pregnancy meals, eat often and eat early
How to make a healthier grilled cheese

Dietary changes
The diet of a pregnant woman may depart sharply from pre-pregnancy.
My wife's first hamburger in 21 years
Protein and iron craving and an increase in red meat consumption.

Nighttime snacking
More, nighttime snacking
Couvade syndrome and how dietary changes affect the father.

Avian flu can pass from mother to fetus

For those of you living in close proximity with lots of chickens (I'm looking at you, Key West) beware that scientists now say that avian flu can pass from mother to fetus.

The dangers of kitty litter

Many people pass off the notion that pregnant women should avoid changing kitty litter as an old wives' tale. However there is a real threat in living with cats during pregnancy.

Cats, while lovable pets, are the source of a serious infection that can be a hazard to the fetus. This infection is caused from a tiny parasite named Toxoplasma gondii that can be found almost everywhere.

Toxoplasmosis is a parasite which cats pick up from the stool of other infected cats or from eating raw meat. These parasites are then shed in the stool of the infected cat. Thus, a pregnant woman can pick up this infection from the litter box (or soil) in which the cat defecates.
- from iVillage

Making sure that pregnant women don't change kitty litter and wash their hands regularly will limit risk to the fetus and mother. has a list of 11 ways to prevent toxoplasmosis.

6 Questions to ask a potential pediatrician

The right pediatrician may have a major impact on your child, so taking a few minutes to interview potential doctors before the birth of your child is time well spent. It's a good idea to look for a doctor in advance because the good ones are often very busy and difficult to set up appointments with.

Below are a few questions that will give you good insight into a doctor and get a feel for how they will treat your baby.

1. How long have you been practicing medicine?
There is most definitely something to be said for experience.

2. What differentiates you from the other pediatricians in the area?
Frankly this one is particularly interesting because it is a great way to judge if a potential candidate is full of crap. If you feel like you're being sold something rather than informed, beware.

3. How many "well baby" visits do you typically have during the first six months? After that?
This will give you an idea of how often you will be in the doctor's office. There should be quite a few, but it may depend on doctor. Beware of a casual answer, there should be at least six in the first six months starting within days of the birth.

4. Who will normally see my child, you or a physician's assistant / nurse practitioner?
This will help you judge if your child will be seeing a different person each time you visit the pediatrician's office. It's preferable to stay with one set of single set of eyes over time so that visual changes can be easily assessed.

5. Do you have kids of your own?
This is a great way to see how vested they are in the subject matter.

6. Do you have Saturday and evening hours?
Colds and sickness don't follow a 9-5 schedule.

7. What is your philosophy on pediatrics?
They may not have a formal "philosophy", but they should be able to speak as to how they treat their patients.

Many of these questions are great for the sole purpose of facilitating conversation. During your interview, make note of whether or not you are interrupted, as is common with many doctors who gloss over patients. After discussing kids and pediatrics for a while, you should be able to tell whether or not you like that particular doctor. Beware of being sold on things, this is your child so trust your gut about whether or not this person is someone with whom you will trust your sick child.

To the angry woman at O & M in NYC

I want to address a comment from a female reader left on my recent post, Warning, the second trimester is a trap! This person was clearly upset with certain incorrect assumptions she made about my writing. Because this person left the comment anonymously, I am going by her IP address which indicates that she wrote from a company in New York which I will refer to as O & M; thus "angry woman at O & M in NYC."

The following was her comment:

I think that your generalizations of pregnancy is ridiculous. Your wife is letting you believe that pregnancy is a torture when it truly is not. Uncomfortable, maybe, but in no way conspicuously so that she would turn against the world. During my pregnancy I never felt the need nor the desire to frustrate, yell at or demand my partner. Nor did I ever require any special treatment or attention. If a woman is uncomfortable, there is no reason she should spread the discomfort around. In fact, the more relaxed my partner is, the more relaxed and comfortable I am in my pregnancy. Simple as that. What kind of sissy,spoiled universe were you sucked into beliving is the norm...

A few points, if I may.

First, "generalizations of pregnancy is ridiculous" is not proper subject-verb agreement. It should be "generalizations of pregnancy are". You work for a marketing company, I hope you don't write for them.

Second, it's a blog, not a scientific journal. I try and make things as factual as possible, such as dietary or medical information, but feel that's only part of the picture. The purpose of my anecdotes is to provide information outside the realm of the strictly analytical and demonstrate a point of view that is not that of the pregnant woman. I clearly employ hyperbole, I thought suggesting that my wife ate a domesticated cat would have been clear enough indication. I guess I was wrong.

Your opinion, while well understood, is completely irrelevant to why I am writing. It does however illustrate that the expectant father's voice is neither well documented or often appreciated. I will make a very solid bet that the father of your child felt things very similar to what I express in my blog. I'm glad you think that you never frustrated your partner, but I find it highly unlikely. You sound rather domineering so he probably didn't bother because it wasn't worth his headache. I think this reinforces that the expectant father is often unheard. If this was your reaction to a complete stranger's opinion, I can only imagine how you would treat him.

Third, my wife isn't "letting me believe" anything. She's a very tough individual, and has actually been very agreeable during pregnancy. She's a trooper and I love and respect her. She is also not a sissy; she once spent six weeks stranded in the rockies after surviving a plane crash with nothing more than a spork and two match heads. She emerged a month and a half later looking fabulous and sporting a pair of capri pants she fashioned from the hide of a bear she beat to death because it "wuz eyin' me wrong." <*hyperbole*>

She has at no point led me to believe it was a "torture", and I don't consider a few moments here and there over a period of nine months to be sissy and or spoiled on my part or hers. However, I use specific points in time to illustrate particular points, and are not indicative of a pervasive attitude. They are simply points in time.

From the manner in which you wear your emotional "fortitude" on your sleeve, it sounds as though you felt unable to be emotionally available to your partner. Frankly, I find that sad and only hope you don't maintain that posture with your child. I don't think any individual, man or woman, should have to go through major life events without feeling like they can't express or share with their partner. If they can't, that relationship should be reexamined. I honestly don't believe that a woman should have to go through pregnancy bottling everything up and pretending like discomfort is a weakness.

Please keep in mind that I get much of my information from many pregnant women themselves, not just from my own experience. I love women and think pregnancy and pregnant women are beautiful. The purpose of my writing is not to trash women, and if you think so you've clearly missed the point. It is about the experience of pregnancy from different vantage points.

Thank you for writing. I appreciate your opinion and it provided an opportunity to clarify certain points.

Why morning sickness is often a misnomer

Commonly known as morning sickness, the collection of first trimester pregnancy symptoms including nausea, fatigue, irritability and saying terrible things to the father of the child can actually occur at any point during the day.

My wife felt better during the morning hours of her first trimester, while her 'morning sickness' didn't set in until after noon. For many women it may start early and extend well beyond morning. Some expectant mothers are alarmed when they don't feel better as the day progresses, but it is perfectly natural and unique to each woman. Some pregnant women never experience morning sickness while others have it for the duration of the pregnancy, though not the norm.

Morning sickness has an indirect effect on the expectant dad as well, both physically and emotionally. You'll need to tend to your partner more and excuse anything crazy she does or says. Fathers should expect a change in diet, and will need to stock up on comfort foods like ginger ale and crackers.

Related articles:
Why pregnant women yell at you
Top 10 pregnancy comfort foods
8 Reasons why pregnancy makes fathers tired
Quotes from pregnant women

Nibbling fetus, a quote

You will hear lots of strange things coming from a pregnant woman. My wife interrupted me in the middle of a sentence tonight with a mildly yelled statement;

"Ahhh, it feels like he's biting the back of my belly button!"
She was of course referring to Sprout, the fetus, and then bit my finger with the according amount of pressure so that I could experience it as well.

Warning: the second trimester is a trap!

The second trimester is a brilliant tactic of instilling a false sense of security in expectant fathers. After surviving the first trimester gauntlet of nausea, crankiness and ginger ale shopping sprees, months four through six shine an entirely new light upon the proposition of pregnancy.

If I may, a brief analogy.

During the second trimester the pregnant woman emerges from her cocoon of morning sickness. Like a butterfly, she unfurls her glowing wings of pregnancy to the world. She is very hungry after completing her journey through the first three months and so will eat anything in her path; meat, vegetable, pastry or any domestic animal that comes within reach (R.I.P. Fluffy).

The transformation is truly as amazing as that of a caterpillar to a butterfly. Excitement sets in as you both look forward to the bundle of joy which will be blessing you in a few short months. You quickly forget the discomfort of the first few months and figure the rest of pregnancy will be equally as joyful. The baby begins to grow and change rapidly, and so does the mommy. The beauty of a pregnant woman becomes a site to behold.

However, much like the butterfly, after a few months the beauty stage of the pregnant woman comes to an end, as does my analogy. Don't get me wrong, pregnancy and the pregnant woman are still beautiful, but the experience for the father begins to revert to a test of will and patience. Now begins what I call the 'irritated' phase (for everybody involved).

Her mobility decreases and irritability increases. The expectant mother will gain more weight, ache more and vent all of these frustrations on you. Now the reason I call the second trimester a trap is that if fathers had to deal with the experience of the first and third trimesters in consecutive terms, many of us would end up going insane or bleeding to death from biting our tongues in excess.

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Is cottage cheese safe for pregnant women?

In my post about quick nutrition for pregnant women I mentioned that "cottage cheese, possibly with some fruit mixed in, is a great way to get some protein." Following that post, a reader wrote and asked if cottage cheese is in fact safe for pregnant women because it is a "soft cheese."

This question refers to a warning that soft cheeses should be avoided by pregnant women. Originating before the prevalence of well marked foods, this guideline was intended to prevent consumption of unpasteurized cheese. Many soft cheeses used to fit this description so it became a blanket statement.

Today, however, most dairy products sold in the United States are already pasteurized and are packaged with detailed nutritional information which would indicate so.

According to an article on, the risk behind the "soft cheese" warning was that:

Raw milk and any cheeses or other dairy products made from it can carry disease-causing organisms, including a potentially deadly bacterium called listeria monocytogenes.

So in light of well-marked, widely pasteurized foods, otherwise edible cottage cheese should be fine for most pregnant women.

Dietary changes during pregnancy, a.k.a death by meat

This summer my wife ate her first hamburger in 21 years. In that span of time she had not eaten any red meat and for many years no chicken either. All that changed once she became pregnant.

Since our offspring has begun developing, my wife has single-handedly sent cattle futures skyrocketing. In the past seven days I've had steak for dinner three times. I cut myself shaving this morning and au jus trickled down my neck. My cholesterol hit triple digits, I sweat Worcestershire sauce and I was woken this morning by the feeling of my dog nibbling on my legs.

Her cravings for red meat have been incredible, but it's par for the course of a pregnant woman's diet. I've mentioned in passing that I think couvade syndrome is tied to household-wide changes in diet, if I have a heart attack before my next post, we'll know for sure.

Crazy pregnancy dreams

I mentioned earlier that my wife has been having vivid and intense dreams and I put a question out on Yahoo! Answers to see what kind of dreams other pregnant women were having. The following are some of the responses:

"I dreamed the baby was a Jalapeno and nobody wanted to carry him."

"I had nightmares with people killing my family."

"I'd have dreams about me having twins. Once I dreamed the twins were like fighting in my belly I could see their arms and legs sticking out then they dropped to the floor, not through the birth canal but through my belly like they were ghosts or something."

"I had one about some bears attacking people all over my town and it seemed so real!"

"I dreamt I died on the delivery table with my second child."

"The most recent was that our city was being bombed but they were only bombing our garbage cans and my husband was about to take out the garbage but me and my very pregnant belly ran and saved him."

"I had dreams that I gave birth to an alien, my fiance and that the baby flew out of my vagina and across the room!!!!"

Pregnancy dreams, zombies and expectant fathers

I've previously mentioned ways that my pregnant wife is slowly trying to drive me insane. She may have worked in extradition based on her tactics; she yells at me to break me down emotionally, she tries to make me fat and weak with snack foods and she clings to me to make me feel paranoid.

Lately she's been dabbling with sleep deprivation. At first she was just kicking me in the middle of the night and scaring the crap out of me. Now she's trying a different route, waking me in the latest hours of the night to recap a dream that reads like a vampire / zombie / alien thriller.

"Whew!" she exclaimed a millisecond before she clung to my body, still waking from her nightmare. "Can you cuddle me?" She was already stuck to me like a barnacle, so yes honey, we can cuddle.

"What's wrong?" I asked.
"I just had the weirdest dream..." After a five minute synopsis, I knew I was not going to get back to sleep quickly. "... and there were toddlers in all the cars in the parking lot and there were no adults around, and we couldn't tell if they had been infected and were zombies or not. "
I was now awake and scared that the alien vampire zombies might in fact be down stairs. She's sure as hell not going to fend them off, so of course now I have to sleep lightly for the rest of the night.

This scene has replayed itself a couple times since then, but with no dreams as cool as that first night. Vivid dreams are a common occurrence during pregnancy and are attributed to hormonal changes and the emotional journey of becoming a parent.

All expectant fathers need to know is that you will lose sleep over it. Listen to your pregnant partner, comfort her, and may I suggest a slug of red wine before bed to help you sleep more soundly.

Bipolar sexual habits of pregnant women

I made an open call for questions a short while back and a reader asked about changes in sexuality during pregnancy. There seem to be few topics more taboo than pregnant sex and I sure as hell wouldn't have written about it if someone hadn't asked me. My wife and mom both read this blog so I'm not offering up anything personal, ix-nay on the egnant-pray ex-say.

Still, I wanted to answer this reader's question so I posted on Yahoo! Answers to get a public opinion sample from pregnant women out in the world. The question from the reader and in-turn posed to women was, how has pregnancy affected your sexuality.

I received quite a few responses and the results were interesting. They were characterized by a very bipolar split in that pregnant women either claimed a large increase in libido or a complete vacuum of sexual interest. Much of this seemed to be specific to a woman's trimester with the most activity in the second trimester and less interest in the first and third.

The following are some particularly telling quotes from the women who responded.

1. I'd rather lay on the bathroom floor than have sex.

2. With my 3rd pregnancy, I was (excuse the expression) hornier than a 16 year old boy!

3. The first [pregnancy] my sex drive went up, but the second time my sex drive has gone down.

4.I've always been reserved, maybe even shy, about that sort of stuff, but after getting pregnant I became much bolder

5. I felt yuck all the time and that was the last thing on my mind.

6. Now that I am preggo I try to knock his boots off every time he looks my way LMAO. My my how the roles have changed, Now he's the one running from me. He's scared he will hurt the baby. PLEASE! The only one in danger is him lol.

7. My sex drive went down the hill...

8. Since we got pregnant (we tried for over a year) sex has been a lot more frequent, spontaneous, and interesting. I guess it's because when we were trying to conceive it was like, "Okay, we have to have sex starting on day 10 of my cycle and skip every other day...blahblahblah." This way we do what we want when we want to, and it's awesome!

9. My libido went up 10-fold. I was very sexually charged, all the time...

10. I don't want to even be looked at in the first trimester, however the second is always a very different story and I find myself more interested than ever. In the third trimester I tolerate intimacy for the sake of my partner.

Quick nutrition for pregnant women

One of the best ways to care for a pregnant woman is to make sure she's always properly fed, and fed quickly. Although a lofty goal, preparing ready-to-eat snacks in advance and keeping certain ingredients on hand is key to making her fed and happy. Keep in mind that she will get hungry at inconvenient times, so some of the items on the list are travel friendly. Stock up on these items so when hunger strikes her, she won't strike you.

Preparing snacks in advance makes sure that she's getting the nutrition she and the baby need from good foods, not just anything within arm's reach. Fresh fruits and vegetables fit this profile wonderfully and are easy to prepare in addition to being vitamin rich. Keep in mind that fruits and vegetables are usually sprayed with pesticides and other chemicals, so buying organic and pesticide free is highly recommended. Organics can be expensive, but those fruits and veggies with thick skins may be okay. has a list of the top produce to buy organic.

Some great snacks include:

Sliced apples with a spread of peanut butter
Apples are loaded with nutrients, and the peanut butter is a great source of protein and healthy fats and oils. Try and get organic apples.

Orange juice or cranberry juice
Lots of vitamin c and sugars to help low blood sugar levels.

Trail mix (organic)

Quick, easy, portable and tasty. Some good carbs, oils and proteins.
*travel friendly, spoil resistant - Buy a large bag at a super center to save money and portion it out in Ziploc bags so she can throw some in a purse.

Keep some yogurt handy, either in a larger container or individual cups. Add some granola or mix in your own fruit to make it a more substantial treat.

Eggs are very simple to prepare on the spot. It doesn't get much easier than scrambled eggs. If you have a little more time, make an egg white omelet with some diced veggies and cheese. For a quicker grab, prepare some hard boiled eggs and keep them in the fridge for when the urge strikes.

Bread (for toast)
Depending on which trimester she is in, dry toast may be one of the only things she can stomach. I suggest a multi-grain bread if she isn't battling an upset tummy. In that case something a little less fibrous like an oatmeal bread is healthier than just plain white bread.

Crackers and...
Cheese is the obvious answer, but there are lots of other things you can add. If you do go the cheese route, pregnant women should stay away from soft cheese. Hummus, jelly, slice of fruit or salsa are all great cracker combos. Stick to a more grainy cracker, as some tend to be high in saturated fats.
* Travel friendly, spoil resistant - Buy her a box for her car or for work.

Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese, possibly with some fruit mixed in, is a great way to get some protein.

Granola Bars
I personally love the Kashi brand of bars, but most of these bars provide an ultra-portable energy boost.
* Travel friendly, spoil resistant - buy a few extra for the car, purse or on the job.

Peanut Butter and....
Just about anything. With jelly on bread, spread on some fruit, dipped with celery, a bunch on some crackers.
* Spoil resistant - great to put in a desk with a box of crackers at the office.

Nutrition for pregnant women can be an easily manageable as long as you plan in advance. A well-fed pregnant woman is a happy pregnant woman, so always make sure she's got a steady supply of food at the drop of a hat.

An expectant father's place is last

I've made many subtle adjustments in my life, in recognition of the fact that I am no longer my own number one priority. There are many concessions that an expectant father must make; sleep, sanity, pride, safety to name but a few.

An expectant father must realize that his job is to care for a pregnant woman before he ever considers himself. Once a child is born, you will take one step down in pecking order. As it is right now I'm already number three in our house behind my wife and our dog. That's right, even the dog comes before me. I don't have a problem taking a back seat to someone I care about, but I literally take a back seat to my wife and our dog.

My wife's car is the 'dog car' so she usually drives when the three of us travel together. Our Siberian Husky loves to ride shot gun, regardless of whether or not someone is already sitting there. Suki (the dog) loves riding in the passenger seat and it keeps her calm so I don't mind letting her do so. However, I don't particularly enjoy having the claws of a 70 pound dog shred my legs, so I gladly take the alternative and sit in the back seat by myself. Dignity damaged, I at least keep my clothing free of fur and my testicles from being clawed when the dog repositions herself at every turn

Unfortunately, Suki loves to hang her head out the window as we drive. In the process, droplets of spit often fly out the front window and into the back, striking me in the face. Strangers frequently laugh at the mere sight of my dog riding up front and me in the back. Stopped at red lights people will often smile at the cute dog, then promptly point and giggle at me. A couple once spotted me in the back seat while stopped in traffic and exploded in laughter. The man yelled over, "Shows you where you rank, doesn't it!" Yes sir, yes it does.

Letting the dog ride in front makes her feel better so I'm more than happy to allow her to do so. It's a strange but small sacrifice for her happiness. Once our child is born I'm almost positive I will be making many more small yet embarrassing concessions. If we have more than one kid I will most likely be tied to the bumper and forced to keep up on foot. People will no longer address me when my family enters a room, but quickly crowd my wife and child to absorb all their cuteness and wonder. I'll just stand in the corner, maybe with the dog. It's okay, some days I pray for peace and quiet, so it might not be so bad.

Truth be told I don't at all mind taking a back seat to my pregnant wife, or my dog, as I love them both dearly. Being comfortable with this may in fact better prepare me to care for a pregnant woman and for impending fatherhood. I know that her needs come first right now, which is fine with me in spite of inconvenience at times.

I know that once our son has been born there won't be a thing that I wouldn't concede for him, no matter how uncomfortable I may feel or ridiculous I may appear.

Celebrity parents, and the blackhole that is MTV

I wrote a post on Inside Fatherhood about Paris Hilton's statement that she wants to be a mother. I made the statement that her wanting to be a parent was scary, the name of the post was actually "Paris Hilton wants to be a mother, and other signs of the apocalypse".

In retrospect, and after having the misfortune of seeing part of the MTV Video Music Awards, I think I may have been a little difficult on Ms. Hilton. I realized that she would not be the worst celebrity parent. So what made me change my tune about this potential parent to be? Well, the mere sight of current celebrity parent.

That celebrity who changed my mind, the train wreck known as Britney Spears.

As she stumbled around on stage with her gut sticking out over her stripper underwear, I realized that her kids are screwed. Genuinely screwed. They're not starting from a good place when Kevin Federline is the most responsible parent they have.

Pregnant women are irritable, a quote

I would like to share a brief quote I recently overheard from my glowingly beautiful pregnant wife:

"Shut the f*@k up!"
- my wife, to our refrigerator

That's right, to our refrigerator. In my wife's defense, she rarely ever swears (that's my job), and our refrigerator beeps when the door is left open for more than a few seconds. This was apparently an unwelcome a reminder.

I made several realizations within moments of those eloquent words gracing my ears:

1. It was not directed at me, so I was happy.

2. A pregnant woman swearing at an inanimate object is funny. I laughed, on the inside.

3. For all the feminine beauty that pregnant women embody, a lady with a round tummy yelling at a metal shell is somehow equally as feminine. Again, an internal observation.

4. She always leaves the refrigerator door open and I was glad to hear that the reminder chime prompted her to action. However, had that chime been a verbal reminder from a man, his testicles would have been sheared clean from his body in one surgically precise swipe. Let this serve as a warning.

5. The relationship of a pregnant woman and a refrigerator is very similar to that of a female bear and her cubs; they are two things you do not may not understand and do not want to come between. Just stay away and you'll be fine.

Dad's Prenatal checklist: life insurance

Administrative tasks aren't fun at any point in your life, but many of them assume a new significance as an expectant parent. One major item on the list of "stinks to think about, pain to deal with" items is life insurance.

Those of you who already have life insurance should revisit your policy before the birth of your child. Talk to your representative to see if an adjustment to your policy might be in order. Keep in mind that if something were to happen to you or your partner, the survivor would be burdened with caring for a child and earning a living, all while grieving. This situation could sadly be worsened by a less than ideal financial situation. Life insurance can help make thing a little less troublesome in a difficult time when the care of a child is involved.

For those of you without life insurance, I would strongly suggest that you consider a small term life insurance policy. Contact a life insurance broker for solid quotes, but relatively healthy people should be able to get policies for less than $30 a month. Make sure that both parents have a policy, as the loss of either could cause a major hardship for the survivor and affect the well being of the child.

8 reasons why pregnancy makes fathers tired

Pregnancy can be rough on fathers as well as the mothers. It's clearly understood that pregnant women undergo lots of changes which leave them feeling tired, but it's not always addressed that those who are on their way to fatherhood can experience fatigue as well. Based on absolutely no laboratory research of my own, yet backed with a keen eye, I've assembled the 8 reasons why pregnancy makes fathers tired.

1. Late night snack runs.
Quite a few times during this pregnancy I have found myself out at night , past my normal bedtime, on a hunt to find a candy bar, a coconut cake or some macaroni and cheese. I don't have any problem doing so, and it's not like I'm out for hours at a clip, but it is a change to my schedule. More often than not, I end up eating some of what I buy for my wife.

2. Changes in diet.
An expectant father's diet is going to change from pre-pregnancy norms. Like I said in #1, I often end up eating some of the tasty treats I've gotten to feed my wife's hormonal hunger. In addition to the periphery of snack foods, the first trimester diet is often bland, and also includes less whole grains. This, combined with more snackey foods, leads to an increase in sugar and carbohydrates which may cause your insulin levels to gyrate, pack on a few pounds and make you fatter and sleepier in the process.

3. She wakes you up on the way to the bathroom.
Pregnant women pee with a regularity and frequency to which you can calibrate sensitive instruments. She's going to pee all the time, and the nighttime hours are no exception. In the process of making nocturnal bathroom trips she will inevitably wake you. This is particularly intensified in the later months when The simple act of getting out of bed requires a complex series of movements that look like a drunk man trying to get on his feet after falling from a bar stool. Several hundred calories are burned in the process, by the way, so you may need to get her a snack.

4. Baby room preparation.
Depending on how much work is going into your nursery, baby room preparation can be a black hole of energy and sanity. I personally removed more than twenty bags of plaster, each weighing somewhere in the neighborhood of 75 pounds each in 90 degree heat. Needless to say, it made me tired

5. Increased household duties.
A pregnant woman's energy level and physical ability to do certain things around the house will diminish, and the slack must be picked up by you, the expectant father. While my wife has a decidedly severe clean streak in her personality, she has begun to slow down and isn't able to do quite as many things as she used to. Assuming that you usually split household duties, you'll have to pick up some extra slack to make sure things get done.

6. Getting yelled at takes a lot out of you.
(Please note, this has not happened to me. My wife is a saint.) It's emotionally tiring to be crabbed at and complained about. It may not happen often, or it may be several times a day depending on her personality and how far along she is, but most likely your pregnant partner will yell at you. Even if it isn't straight out yelling, there will be some emotional turbulence ranging from crocodile tears to women wanting to punch you in the nuts. She's hormonal and maybe scared, so you should do your best to get through it and not explode at her. Biting your tongue burns lots of calories, thus tiring you out.

7. Reduced exercise and activity levels.
As your schedule fills, the time available for exercise or peripheral activity decreases. Even if you don't work out five times a week, things like outside work, walks, pickup basketball or the ability to move more than ten feet away from your pregnant partner without her clinging to you affects your energy levels. Exercise is invigorating and makes you feel more energized. Pregnant women steal free time with the ease and glee of a bully stealing lunch money at school.

8. Increased stress levels.
Health, finances, nursery, pushy advice, family, work and health insurance are a subset of the things that increase the amount of stress that you'll experience as an expectant father. Stress works in a a tricky way. First, it makes your mind run like a Kenyan marathoner so it's not always easy to wind down at the end of the day. You expend more energy and can't sleep as well. Second, stress causes a release of cortisol in your body that not only helps pack on a few pounds by messing with your blood sugars, over time it will make you feel depressed and anxious.

On an interesting side note, items 1,2,7 and 8 also contribute to weight gain, which is part of the notorious couvade syndrome.

Naming your child after a Godfather character

The other day I wrote a post on about a potential name I suggested to my pregnant wife for our unborn son. When I originally verbalized my brilliant candidate, she gave me a look as though I had eaten paint chips as a child, which coincidentally is a family favorite.

Obviously she doesn't have a well textured understanding of the bit parts in the Godfather movies. The name I suggested happened to be a small character the films, and I provided this little clue to the readers:

It was the name of the baker in the Godfather who was bringing flowers to Vito Corleone in the hospital when Michael met him on the stairs.

Nobody got it.

Well apparently Mike over at Stroller Derby agrees with my thoughts as to why **** is in fact the person from the Godfather after whom I should name my child. I blocked out the potential name, you'll have to read my original post at Inside Fatherhood if you want to see what it is.

Almost A Dad, questions and answers

Today is question and answer day for all you readers out there in blog land. If you have any burning questions about pregnant women, pregnancy, expectant fathers, me, this blog, what really happened to Tony Soprano or anything else, just leave a comment with your question or email me through my profile. I'll write up the Q & A in an upcoming post.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Expectant Father Survey extracts, part deux

The following are a few extracts from my ongoing expectant father survey.

- Only 23.1 % of expectant fathers who responded think there is enough pregnancy-related information available specifically for dads.

- 38.5% of all respondents were either completely surprised by, or weren't expecting altered or hormonal behavior in their pregnant partners.

- 30.8% of respondent fathers talk to their pregnant partner's belly every day. Another 46.2% do so "every now and then."

When asked what "crazy" behavior expectant fathers had seen in their pregnant partners, one respondent answered:

"My partner pulled a bag of pickles out of her purse the other day while we were riding along in the car. Not so strange, until she pulled out a small jar of peanutbutter to dip them in."

You handle the womb, I'll handle the room.

I received a question the other day from a reader, Ricky, who asked: How's the nursery coming along?

Thanks for asking Ricky.

He was asking in reference to a post from about three weeks ago when I mentioned that Baby room prep was my own little corner of pregnancy hell. Things had been progressing slowly until this weekend when I made some major strides. Most notably, you can now see the floor.

After removing more than twenty 34 gallon contractor bags of plaster and insulation, and chucking hundreds of strips of wood lathe out the window, finishing the room is reasonably within reach.

I'm incredibly excited about being able to provide a fresh, new room for our child. I've previously mentioned that I talk to my wife's belly because it helps me form a bond with our friendly little fetus. Preparing the nursery is something that gives me a similar sense of participation and involvement with my child. While he obviously won't experience the room until after birth, I feel like creating a safe, comfortable and friendly room the male counterpart to providing a womb to shack up in for nine months.

I'll post more pictures as things progress and I equip the room with accouterments such as walls and a ceiling.

A voilent attack of pregnancy leg cramps

A quick crack of a foot to my shin woke me from my sleep at midnight last night. Not knowing what was going on, I quickly grappled my assailant and forced her to submit before I realized my wife was having an agonizing muscle cramp. I could tell this was an involuntary reaction as pregnant women prefer to punch and slap as opposed to kicking. Again, one of the things that expectant fathers should be aware of which I was not; pregnant women often have very painful leg cramps.

Doctors seem to attribute these little muscular fits to a variety of factors from extra weight to low magnesium.

Tips to help expectant fathers with a pregnant woman's leg cramps at night:
1. Wear shin pads
2. Wear ear plugs
3. Develop an intimate rapport with tae kwon do
4. Learn some basic stretching techniques like pointing and flexing her feet for her to help articulate those frozen, cramping muscles.

Tips for mothers dealing with pregnancy leg cramps:
1. Stretch your calves regularly. Try standing on your toes on the edge of a step and letting your body weight pull down to stretch the calf. Do this on a bottom step and make sure hold on to a railing, your balance and weight distribution are changing and it's important to make sure you don't fall.
2. Try a prenatal vitamin to make sure your mineral levels are in check. Check with a doc first.
3. Stay active and try to take walks frequently.

Hopefully this will help prevent another victim like me.

Is honey safe for pregnant women?

Many pregnant women are concerned about their diet during pregnancy, as well they should be. However they often have a hard time discerning which foods should be avoided due to science and those that are the product of bad advice and old wives tales.

One contested item in the realm of pregnancy nutrition is honey. No, not the Maria Carey song of the same name which should be avoided in pretty much every circumstance, but rather the bee and nectar byproduct.

While honey should not be ingested by children, it is safe for both pregnant and nursing mothers.

The reason that kids should avoid honey is that it may contain botulinum spores which could thrive in the low-acid digestive tracts of children. It is fine for pregnant and nursing women, though, as their more mature and acidic digestive systems will kill the spores.

You may have learned this from a George Clooney era episode of E.R., but this article from iVilliage has all the info.