I have some advice for you, fathers: whatever you do, try not to look at any photographs of foetuses at this stage of pregnancy. Although the fact that they are about the size and shape of a baked bean sounds cute, they sure as heck don’t look it. It sounds mean, and you mustn’t mention this to your partner, but right now your baby looks like something straight out of an Alien movie. It might not be Alien, it could of course be Aliens, or Alien 3; maybe Alien Resurrection, or Alien vs Predator…but you get the gist. All I’m saying is, if you can see a resemblance of yourself in your baby at this stage, you quite urgently need to visit a plastic surgeon.
My second piece of advice, and a quiet word in your ear, if you will: the mother of your child is already well aware that chances are she will put on a bit of weight whilst she’s pregnant. I’m not talking the weight of the baby itself, I mean actual fat. I know you already know what I am about to tell you, but always always always tell her that she does not look fat, no matter how horizontally tall she may become. One day, perhaps soon, her bum actually will look big in that; but you must never say.
Right now, that bunch of embryonic cells in your mrs’ belly is beginning to form a distinct shape, about 2mm in length, looking kind of like a slightly elongated baked bean, with a bulge in the middle which will eventually form your baby’s heart. It’s brain and nervous system are developing quickly, and optic vessels – which will form the eyes – appear on the side of it’s head. The beginning of the digestive and respiratory systems are also forming, as are small buds which will grow into arms and legs. Finally, and perhaps the most incredible, is that the heart kicks into life around week six and begins to beat.
There’s a few things your mrs should avoid (apart from the obvious, like skydiving or running across a minefield), especially concerning food: she should steer well clear of things like soft cheeses, unpasteurised milk, raw meat, food containing raw eggs, shellfish or pâté. All of these things run the risk of illnesses such as listeriosis and toxoplasmosis, which can cause birth defects or miscarriage. There’s also a risk that toxoplasmosis can be contracted from soiled cat litter, so if you have a cat, it’s now your exclusive job to scoop up the poo, you lucky thing.
It’s law at this point for your partner’s employer to carry out an assessment if her job involves a risk to her pregnancy. If a risk is found, then she can be transferred to another job or task, with no loss of pay.
These first few weeks are a strange time. Neither of you may believe that you are pregnant, and perhaps not be as excited as you think you should be. Your mrs may be grumpy or grumpier than usual on account of the hormones swilling around her system. She is probably also constantly complaining about sore boobs, in which case you should go out and buy her a maternity bra. Seriously, it’d gain you untold brownie points and – for a moment, at least – you can bask in the light of being some kind of bra-buying hero.
You can also be some kind of cape-clad superman by simply helping out around the house, as your mrs is probably feeling knackered already (although watch out for signs of deliberate exaggeration in order to obtain extravagant sympathy and/or numerous cups of caffeine-free tea). Her senses are also heightened during pregnancy, especially her sense of smell. You know they say a shark can smell a teaspoon of blood in a swimming pool? Well your mrs can smell a fart in a warehouse, no joke. Therefore, it’s best to keep strong smells of all kinds away from her to minimise the risk of her chucking up all over your nice carpet.
Here’s a revolting fact: some people drink the urine of pregnant women as they believe it boosts their immune system. Please, please don’t. It’s really gross and there’s always other ways of fortifying your body, ways that taste much nicer and don’t run the risk of you being completely rejected by society and disowned by your family.