First, yay and congrats to all pregnant mommas to be! Wishing you a happy and healthy pregnancy. If you have a partner, boyfriend or husband to embark on this journey with, this post is for you. When my husband Danny and I found out we were pregnant, he was ecstatic! I’m very fortunate to have a partner who has been so involved [and genuinely wants to be]! Most of these ideas were things he did on his own. If you need some inspiration or creativity on how to include your partner (who may feel left out or disengaged), read on…
 Have your partner rub belly oil or cocoa butter for you
I heard other couples doing this, and when I proposed the idea to my husband, he was all about it! We now include this in our nightly routine, where he helps rub belly butter on my stomach before we go to bed. I’m eight months pregnant, so it’s also a chance for him to touch my belly and feel the baby kicking. (We didn’t start this routine until month five).
I’ve been using two products: Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Belly Butter ($12) and Bio Oil ($9). I’m pretty diligent about using the belly butter so I’m almost out of the 6.5 ounce jar. Will need to order more or switch to the Bio Oil only. To be honest, I have no idea if these are working or will work in the long run, but other mommas have given them good reviews. I’m nervous about stretch marks so trying to cover all my bases here — I will find out post pregnancy!
 Read to your baby or play her music
According to MayoClinic.com, a baby develops the ability to hear sounds at about 18 weeks (four months) into the pregnancy. Once we learned this, my husband suggested to read to our baby. At first, we had zero baby books, but after Christmas, a baby shower and some hand-me-downs — our children’s book collection began! Two of my favorites we received from my gal pals were: She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World (by Chelsea Clinton) and The Wonderful Things You Will Be Hardcover (Emily Winfield Martin). While laying in bed, my husband will read these books closely to my belly and occasionally, we will see the baby move and react to his voice.
My husband also loves to play the piano, so he will play for her (us) while I sit on a rocking chair next to the piano. We’ve heard that a child will remember songs he/she heard in the womb. We are currently trying to incept our baby’s mind with Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect” which was our wedding song. We’ve also created a Spotify playlist called “Cadence” that literally ONLY has versions of “Perfect” (covers, duets, acoustics, etc.). I listen to it on my drive to work. Hopefully she will love the song (or hate it before she even hears it outside the womb, haha!).
 Read dad books and share with you what he’s learned
In addition to reading children’s books, Danny has also been reading The New York Times best seller: The Expectant Father: The Ultimate Guide for Dads-to-Be. It was published in 2015 and one of the most recent books for dads we were able to find. My husband’s best friend (who is also a first time dad) passed the book on to him. The chapters are organized by months and explain to fathers what is happening throughout the pregnancy process. After my husband finishes each chapter, he shares with me what he’s learned! I particularly love a section of recommendations to “Show Her You Care,” which include: “Offer to give her a back rub. Pay extra attention to make sure she has enough to eat. Discuss your fears. Buy her a maternity pillow.” The author Armin A. Brott gives great insights from his personal experience becoming a father. He explains everything from how to budget for a new baby and build nursery furniture to the stages of labor and delivery. The writing is straightforward and easy for us to understand as first time parents (who don’t know a darn thing).
 Organize dates and celebrate special occasions
With Danny’s love for music, he got us tickets to go to the symphony, which was the first time for both of us. It was a San Diego Symphony holiday concert on a Wednesday night — a great opportunity for us to get out of the house and go on a date that was also meant for the baby. He put his hand on my stomach for several of the percussion heavy songs and we could feel the baby kicking to the beat.
My pregnancy fell from June to March, so along the way, we’ve celebrated Thanksgiving, Christmas, and my birthday. We made sure to still celebrate these occasions and find ways to incorporate the pregnancy (such as playing Scrabble with friends on New Year’s Eve while drinking sparkling cider).
 Download pregnancy apps and keep up with the weekly reminders
When we first got pregnant, this was a great way for Danny to stay informed with our baby’s growth each week. We love how all these apps compare the size of your baby to fruits (grape, apple, pineapple, melon). We started with the Pregnancy+ app by both logging into the same account, but once we were halfway through the pregnancy, a lot of the features were closed off and you needed to buy a premium version. I feel bad but we were too cheap to do this so we switched over to the BabyCenter app. In general, I love all the newsletters sent from BabyCenter each week. I always open them and read about what’s happening with my body and the baby’s development. I also love that they have a community forum of moms who are due the same month as you. I’ve learned a lot from the discussion threads (although I have never commented or joined in on them). I’d recommend that you download some different apps and decide which interface, style, functions you like! It’s hard to say which ones are “the best.”
 Be the research guy for your registries
In general, Danny has always took the time to research big purchases, especially when it comes to technology — laptops, smart phones, and nowadays voice-controlled speakers (yet somehow we have both a Google Home and an Alexa). So when it came to the big ticket items on the registry, he stepped up to take on this challenge! Researching and reading reviews of dozens of products! Truly, there are so many brands, styles and capabilities for baby items. We really prioritized quality and cost. We don’t need the flashiest most stylish items, but we want things to work as they should! The big items on our registry were the: car seat, stroller, baby monitor/webcam, and glider/rocking chair. He also added a baby hiking carrier he was super excited about after quite a bit of price comparing (thanks to our friends Jenn and Q for getting it for us). Luckily, we received a lot of donated items (pack n play, bouncer, furniture) that helped ease some of the costs. Having a baby can be quite expensive!
 Schedule your prenatal visits around your partner’s schedule
First, what was super helpful for us was sharing our Google calendars. We’ve always done this, ever since we started dating and it’s made things easy in regards to scheduling events and reminding each other what’s coming up. Highly recommend doing this, if both people are comfortable and open to sharing.
It was often challenging to schedule prenatal appointments since Danny and I both work and often the availability of our doctors (at Kaiser Permanente) were limited! Nonetheless, the best way for Danny to be at the visits was for us to be flexible about which doctor we were seeing, so throughout the pregnancy, we haven’t had a consistent OB. We found out that in the end, having one set OB did not mean he/she would be there for your delivery. With Kaiser, the doctor working at the hospital when you go into labor would be the one to deliver your baby, so it really didn’t matter to us to see the same OB from beginning to end. So far, Danny’s been able to make it to all my prenatal visits (including the exciting anatomy scan) except one. I was able to record a video of the ultrasound during the one he missed and send it to him. While I understand these visits are mostly about mom and baby, I love having him there. He always asks great questions and it’s helpful to have him remind me of what the doctors said during the visits.
 Stay fit and healthy together (prenatal yoga and healthy eating)
Well, whether or not sympathy weight is true (which in Danny’s case… IT IS!), there are ways to stay healthy together. When it comes to eating healthy, we aren’t the best about this because neither of us enjoying cooking and in general, we aren’t fancy eaters (think In-N-Out Burger and Taco Bell). Nonetheless, we make it a point to eat breakfast together every morning. Eggs, toast, cereal, fruit, milk, juice are common. We also try to pack lunches to help us save (and also not eat fast food).
When I hit my last trimester (at about seven months), I started doing prenatal yoga several times a week (YouTube videos). We got a pregnancy ball that I’m sitting on as we speak. It’s very comfortable and helps with pregnancy exercises. A few times Danny has joined me in the breathing and stretching. The position he is sitting in the photo is a good one to prepare for delivery.
 Pack the hospital bag
At 30 weeks pregnant, one day at work, I received a message from Danny with a list of items that go in the hospital bag! It was a little early to get the bag ready, but it definitely got us thinking about it! Now I’m at 33 weeks and we have the bag ready to go. Instead of the traditional mommy tote bag, we are using his gym bag and his items are in there too so he feels a part of it all (although he doesn’t have much). New dad hospital items: change of clothes, head pillow while waiting at the hospital, toiletries and a book. That’s it! As for me: women’s diapers, comfortable underwear, nursing bras, and non skid mommy socks (from my friend Amuda!). Will have a separate bag for toiletries, makeup and a robe. Lastly, for baby, we’ve packed: a few onesies (since we aren’t sure her size), a hat, pacifier, swaddle blankets, burping towels, a Boppy, and an awesome book journal we received from our friend Tricia where we can write letters to our baby. We want to bring it to the hospital so they can stamp her feet into the book!
 Name the baby
This is such an important thing for all parents to decide! Luckily for us, we were quick to agree on a name for the baby. We’ve heard many parents wait until the baby is born to determine what he/she looks like. Before we knew our baby’s gender, we spent weeks writing down boy and girl names we liked and sharing them with each other. Ultimately, Danny spent time looking at the initials of our parents (as well as our own) and finding ways to incorporate them into our baby’s name. “CADENCE” represents: Chwen-Geng (my dad), Annie, Danny and Nghiep (Danny’s dad) so it has much more meaning to us in addition to the fact that we love the meaning of “Cadence” which in music represents a rhythmic sequence or flow of sounds. My parents have also given her a Chinese name pronounced “Wen De Xin,” meaning someone that shares her high virtues. We love that we were able to give her a name with such meaning behind it. And we can start using it before she’s born!
Annie VanDan is a mommy and lifestyle blogger living in San Diego with her husband Danny. Their baby Cadence is due on March 11, 2018.