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Prenatal Visits: Should Dads Go Too?

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During my first pregnancy, my husband arranged his schedule so he could attend every one of my checkups. For the second baby, he made it to a handful of visits. With our third, he showed up for the sonogram and the delivery. Though I've kidded him about his waning involvement, it was just fine each time.

Every woman feels differently about how often her partner should accompany her to the doctor, but experts suggest couples attend at least a few together. "I love it when a father comes along," says Kathryn Kohler, M.D., an ob-gyn in Laramie, WY. "It makes the pregnancy more real for him, and gives him an understanding of what his mate is going through."

How many checkups constitutes the perfect balance?
"I usually advise one visit during the first trimester, one in the second, and more often as the pregnancy advances to term," says Daniel Kalb, M.D., a family physician at Baton Rouge General Medical Center. Some possibilities:

First appointment
This checkup maps out the nine-month journey ahead. Also, the doctor or midwife will do a family history; it's helpful to have the father there to answer questions about his genetic background.

The heartbeat (12 weeks)
"When parents-to-be hear the baby's heart beating for the first time, a look passes between them that tells me this is the most marvelous sound they've ever heard," says Dr. Kohler. Bring tissues.

Ultrasound (18 to 20 weeks)
For many parents, this is the first glimpse of their child in all her glory. There's also the reassurance factor. "I loved that my husband was by my side to share the joy of realizing everything was fine," says Allyn Chong, of New York City.

Amniocentesis (15 to 18 weeks)
Most women will want their partner there for moral support -- and to drive them home afterward.

The dad-to-be who feels reluctant to attend any checkup should talk over his feelings with his partner to make sure she won't feel abandoned or resentful. And he should continue to bring up the subject -- her feelings may change as the baby becomes more of a reality.

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