Pickles and ice cream? You’ll be lucky. Dealing with your pregnant lady love’s weird food cravings is the easy bit – anyone can make a late-night dash to the local Londis, let’s face it. But navigating the stormy seas of her emotions without making her spontaneously combust because of your selfishness and/or lack of sensitivity? That’s arguably the trickiest part of this whole baby-making business. So what exactly can you expect when she’s expecting – and, more importantly, how can you be her hero at every stage?

1st Trimester (Week 1-13) AKA Fatigued and Farty

Sore boobs, exhaustion, guffing like a maniac. It’s her we’re talking about here, not you – even though you may share a lot of the same symptoms. So if she’s completely knackered and retires early every night to trump up a hurricane as she sleeps, so what? She’s growing another human being and needs your love and support, not your sarky – although no doubt hilarious – comments. The first trimester is a really weird time for her – she might be feeling physically sick and emotionally, she’ll be all over the shop; up, down, laughing hysterically one minute, bawling her eyes out the next. And the minute after that, she’s having a go at you like a pissed-up Frankie Boyle. It’s an unpredictable time full of excitement, fear and overwhelming uncertainty for her. But if you can understand that, not take any abuse too personally and keep your head when all about you she’s losing hers, you’ll be halfway there (or, more accurately, a third of the way there – it’s trimesters we’re dealing with, here).

DO bring her ginger biscuits in bed, start a week-by-week photo diary of her and her growing bump and always, always tell her how great she looks.

DON’T bugger off to Marbella on holidays without her, telling your mates it’s what she would have wanted for you, if she were in her right mind.

2nd Trimester (Week 14-27) AKA The Best Trimest

Less queasy, less tired, less emotionally Exorcist, more snoring, more swelling of feet, boobs and belly. People often say this is the easiest part of pregnancy – and after the first trimester, which can really be a bit of a bastard, they might just be right. She’s not feeling quite as physically off as she was, her skin might be clearing up and she may well be feeling a lot less anxious, up for the challenge of being a mum and not scared quite so shitless. Her energy levels may soar and you will reap the rewards of this new-found lust for life. As a result, you might feel a bit more relaxed, too, thinking you’ve got your old girl back – but don’t get carried away, you’re not out of the woods yet.

DO: Make her loads of comfort food – release your inner Jamie Oliver (without the irritating chat), go shopping with her for maternity gear and always, always tell her how great she looks.

DON’T: Gleefully make her the designated driver for every night out you have planned for the next four months.

3rd Trimester (Week 28-40) AKA Get the f*** OUT of me!

By now you’re probably getting really excited. She, on the other hand, will be getting increasingly narked with this whole pregnancy malarkey and may be prone to sulks, taking verbal swipes at you and waddling off in a huff where previously she would have laughed along and gazed at you adoringly. And who can blame her? She can’t sleep, can’t go longer than 10 minutes without having to go to the loo, her back’s killing her and she looks like she’s swallowed a space hopper. Add to that the fact she’s really starting to freak out about how the hell she’s going to get that giant baby out of her body and fretting about not being up to the mark as a mum and you can understand why. Hopefully. On the plus side, she’ll be keen to get this whole parenting party started, too, so you can look forward to loads of awkward, careful sex and hot curries (supposedly they bring on labour) in the later stages.

DO ask her if she wants her back rubbed. Go on hospital tours and appointments with her and always, always tell her how great she looks.

DON’T go out every night in a bid to ‘say goodbye’ to your old life and don’t stop to give directions/talk about the weather/share a fag with some old lag in the street at 11:30 pm when her waters have broken and she’s desperate to get to the hospital.

It’s a doddle for dads. No, really. Because all you need to actually do is be there, be nice and don’t be a dick. What could be easier?

Mink Elliott is a writer and mother who lives in a tiny cottage in Berkshire with her two kids and enormous Irish Setter. She has written three novels so far, The Pissed-Off Parents Club, Just Another Manic Mum-Day and A Mother Dimension and is often found questioning the wisdom of her life choices, laughing at herself. But not in a mad way