Let me first say, I am not trying to pirate the name of the famous book here. I am just trying to start off with a familiar title to catch your attention. If your wife is expecting, you have at least of heard of that book. You should have read it by now, as a matter of fact. But that classic book addresses the missus, and I think there are some things guys should know about as well.

Number one on the list is sympathy pains. I’m not sure why they are called sympathy ‘pains’, since it more sympathy symptoms than pains, but I did not coin the term. What this means to you is, you are going to yack some, too, and perhaps have other sympathetic physical symptoms. On my first experience of having a pregnant wife, I believed my nausea was just a response to her vomiting, because vomiting is one of those things that has always bothered me. I later noticed that I was nauseous even when I was at work, or before she got sick. Apparently, many guys get in tune with the pregnant woman’s body somehow, and we experience some of what she does. A friend of mine even told me that he knew his wife was pregnant before she did, since he started getting morning sickness first. I am going to leave the topic of ‘sympathy pains’ with morning sickness; I will let you figure out why your chest is sore and you have not been to the gym recently.

The next thing I want to tell you about is the, in my opinion, best part of pregnancy: SEX! You will get to have three months of the best sex of your life. The first three months, your wife (and probably you, too) will be getting sick and adjusting to the fact of her being pregnant. The last three months, the baby will be sitting low in her body, and sex, especially deep penetration positions, will be uncomfortable for her. As her belly swells ever bigger, you will find that the deeper penetration positions are the ones that work best.

However, don’t despair: those three magical months in between, the second trimester, are glorious and worth the rest of it all. Without getting too graphic, here are a couple of the perks you can look forward to. Obviously, except in rare cases, there are no monthly interruptions. Only a tiny percentage of women still have a period while they have a bun in the oven. Next, there are no birth control worries; she is already pregnant, so there is no risk of a mishap. Finally, the increases of fluids in the body and sensitivity in certain areas due to this increased fluid retention make things…much more interesting. I’ll leave it at that.

Mood swings! Yes, gentlemen, pregnant women’s bodies are flooded with hormones in constant fluctuation as the baby develops and her body changes. This produces many physical side effects, but another major one is the emotional instability. One moment she might be giggling hysterically at something, the next crying uncontrollably, the next throwing things in a rage. This isn’t a 24/7 thing, mind you. Just occasionally. Of course, some women sail through pregnancy easily with no emotional hiccups. If you’re married to one, consider yourself blessed. Dealing with a very emotional pregnant woman can be difficult. My best advice is to take an emotional step back and don’t take things personally, and to try to help her to avoid emotionally charged situations. And carry tissues.

Cravings! No, it’s rarely as bad as the entertainment industry would have you believe, pickles and ice cream is a rare request. Most of the time, it’s that the woman wants something she already likes, whether it’s salty, sweet, crunchy. My worst encounter with cravings was when my wife wanted refried beans late at night. Perhaps she needed the iron? More frequently, you’ll encounter food aversions. Usually it’s to something with a strong scent or flavor, such as broccoli, onions, or fish. My wife couldn’t bear the sight or smell of eggs, fish, most meats, or anything fried when she was in her first trimesters.

Fatigue! During the first trimester, women experience soul-crushing fatigue, and although it often eases during the second trimester, it comes right back during the third. Expect her to have a hard time just getting even the most basic stuff done at times. Try to make things easy for her when you can, let her nap, try to pick up the slack on the domestic duties. After all, that little life inside her is sucking at her energy reserves, and she deserves the rest, especially before the baby is born.

By no means is this a comprehensive list of symptoms and responses. You will find your own strategies as you navigate the maze that is fatherhood, and I’m sure you’ll come out on top.