Babies and KidsParentingPregnancyWomen's Health

Pregnancy: What Every African Man Should Know About Supporting Their Wives

As an African man, there are some things that we have been taught to handle well: providing for our families, offering protection, and keeping the homestead in order. However, when it comes to the role of fatherhood, there isn’t a pre-existing playbook for us to refer to. Fuelled by cultural biases, it just hasn’t been seen as “manly” to take an active role in pregnancy and childbirth. But the times are changing and we need to keep pace with them, we need to step up to be active participants in every aspect of our children’s lives, starting right from conception.

Pregnancy not solely the wife burden 

First of all, let’s make it clear: pregnancy is not just the woman’s job. As Africans, we believe that children are the foundation of the family, and the responsibility of raising a child should be equally shared between the mother and father. So why do we leave everything to the mother during pregnancy? Let’s get involved! Be there for check-ups, ask the midwife questions, and read up on what your partner is going through and physically support her. Understand her mood swings, her cravings, and her aversions. Be supportive of her at all times.

Preparing well goes beyond material things

Next, we need to be prepared for the arrival of our children. This means more than just buying the baby’s clothes or the crib. It means attending antenatal classes, having open conversations with our partners about the kind of parenting style we want to adopt, and learning about the needs of babies at different stages of development. Did you know that a newborn cannot see farther than 20-30 centimetres from their face? They also cannot distinguish between colours very well. Armed with this kind of information, you can anticipate what your child will need and be ready to provide for them.

Prioritise your family’s needs 

Once more, let’s normalise the idea of paternity leave. Men need time to bond with their newborns and to support their partners during those early months. Taking a leave of absence from work should not be seen as a luxury but as an essential part of fatherhood. It can be as simple as taking a few days off to help your partner adjust to the demands of motherhood, or as long as your employer allows. Whatever the case, prioritise your family’s needs.

Your presence is needed

Lastly, let’s be present in our children’s lives, from the very beginning. Research shows that children who have involved fathers are more likely to succeed in life and have better emotional and mental health outcomes. This means being there for the little moments, like taking your child to their first day of school or attending their soccer games. But it also means stepping up to the more difficult tasks, like disciplining your child and being a role model for them.

To summarise, African men, let’s take responsibility for our families. Be involved in pregnancy, prepare for the arrival of our children, take paternity leave, and be present in their lives. It’s the manly thing to do. Let’s give our children the best start in life that we can.

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