TODAY's veteran parents offer advice for dads-to-be

Willie Natalie

In those nine long months of pregnancy, the to-do list for expectant moms is undeniably daunting. As if it’s not enough to deal with your blossoming body, you’ve also got to manage so many other aspects of pregnancy and impending motherhood, from food cravings to sleep positions to crib decisions.

So while all this maternal maneuvering is going on, what’s the dad-to-be to do? The answer, according to TODAY hosts Natalie Morales and Willie Geist as well as TODAY Moms readers, is resounding: Plenty!

Morales, the mom of two sons, says that men should pamper their wives when they are pregnant. (Her personal faves: Foot and back rubs!) She adds that cravings should be catered to, no matter the time of day.

“In my case I craved hamburgers (and I'm not a big meat eater) and I remember sending my husband out for a Fatburger one night. Husbands should never question the craving or request... No matter how crazy. It helps if they are willing to indulge too so we don't feel so guilty,” Morales said.

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She also suggests that dads-to-be act as the memory keeper and take lots of photos of all stages of pregnancy.

“Because I had such a hard time getting pregnant with my second (secondary infertility) and knew Luke would likely be my last baby, I treasure those pregnancy photos as the body does amazing things during such a miracle transition,” Morales said. “Then it's fun to show your child later on in life how they started out.”

Of course, the expectant dad’s job isn’t over when the baby arrives. As Geist, the dad of two kids ages 5 and 3, knows well, it’s just getting started. The father, Geist says, “should expect to be at the mother's right hand from the moment the pushing begins until you get that little sucker off to college.”

Geist says the first months of infancy are tough for dads because they “can feel a little useless in those early months because the baby is so physically dependent on its mother.”

His advice:

“That means Dad should just be at the ready, like a member of the National Guard, to be called into active duty at any moment. I recommend mixing in a 'daddy bottle' early on -- it gives Mom a break from one of the three-hour wake-up cycles and gives Dad some time with the baby.”

Geist also tells expectant dads to forget about those nights out with the guys and those quiet nights at home alone with your wife and embrace the surrender of coolness that comes with wearing the Baby Bjorn. It all becomes completely insignificant, Geist says, by the pure daily joy of raising a child and being a father.

Readers of TODAY Moms, including those who lots, little or no help from dads -- also offered advice and anecdotes that should help future expectant dads create a winning game plan. (After all, delivery day is arguably the Super Bowl of fatherhood.)

Alison Parson warns that expectant dads should take note that pregnant moms often have a heightened sense of smell. So she told her husband to toss those man fragrances, Parson says, because she just couldn’t stomach the smell. She wrote on TODAY Moms’ Facebook page:

“He should expect that all his men soaps and pine needle soaps and mountainy fresh soaps will be thrown out. You WILL smell like me. Unless you want to clean up my vomit in random places."

Parson said her husband acquiesced and they both smelled like cucumber melon. “Until that made me sick,” she wrote.

Brittney Brossard tells dads to be supportive and kind, and pay attention to the mom’s needs. She describes her own list of needs, which she says her husband met. But she also credits him for recognizing the red flags after her child was born so she could get help for post-partum depression.

“Rub my back and my feet. Let me whine and don’t question my decisions unless the baby is at risk. Be gracious and grateful that I haven’t slapped you or yelled at you today…Hear me when I say thank you for your help. And most importantly, pay attention for post-partum depression signs. You are closer to her than anyone else. You know what’s normal and what isn’t.”

TODAY Mom Verona BepoHa is 8-months pregnant and says that she is “sick and tired of being sick and tired.” She can’t get comfortable enough to sleep at night, what with her belly and the need for constant bathroom breaks. What does she think expectant dads should do? Just be there for your wife.

She shared on Facebook about a recent night of discomfort:

“I eventually got up and went to sit in the living room letting my hormones get the best of me (crying). My husband came out holding a blanket and laid down next to me on the couch…”

BepoHa advises expectant dads: “Expect to let her know that you are aware of her discomfort and while you can’t make it better you two can be uncomfortable on the couch together if need be. She is not alone in this is all she needs to know.”

TODAY Moms editor Rebecca Dube, who is expecting her second child this spring, heartily agrees -- and hopes her husband is reading this. She thinks pregnancy is the time for men to step up their game and return to their courtship behaviors, whether that's giving you flowers, ceding control of the remote, or just listening really closely when we talk. Because, having been there done that once before, she says she knows you'll both be way too tired for such niceties when the little one arrives!