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May 20, 2013

The Daddy Trap: Ford Offers Young Husbands, Daddies to Be Some Unique Parenting Tips

You got her pregnant—those were the first lines displayed in the AVP presentation marking Ford’s Daddy Day Out. Though those words certainly didn’t apply to me, James Deakin’s sheepish grin seems to indicate otherwise. Whether or not he’s guilty of something, I told him to volunteer to try on the Ford “Pregnancy Suit”—a unique suit which features belly weight inserts, a six-pound (three-kilogram) pouch that applies pressure to the bladder, and compartments for water and ball bearings that mimic mild fetal kicking. Initially, James was all smiles, playing with the suit’s belly and err, mammy glands, and even happily jogged for a couple of meters. But then, he started sweating, panting—clearly the suit taking its toll.

“This is tough,” James could only say as he slid out of the suit and onto the chair to catch his breath. Clearly, if ten minutes can do this to a man, imagine what nine months would feel like for a woman?

This is the entire point of Ford’s Daddy Day Out—where they called young husbands (not the football players, though we can certainly pass for either of them) and/or fathers to be, to explain and hopefully, empathize with the woman’s side to pregnancy. It serves as a Part Two of sorts to the Baby Shower event last week, where our very own Angel Rivero experienced what it’s like to be near-term pregnant.

Though their tolerance to pain and discomfort didn’t seem too far apart (Angel wanted to rip the suit apart after 15 minutes), Ford made their point clear: pregnancy is a complicated matter, and one that must be taken seriously. Aside from the fact that it adds 33 pounds (15 kilograms) predominantly to the abdominal area, it constricts breathing and movement, and creates pain to the lower back. All in all, it creates a huge discomfort to all mothers to be.

The Ford Pregnancy Suit, a unique engineering tool that’s touring the world (it was in South Africa before it came to the Philippines) is designed to address these common issues. Though my wife rightfully pointed out that they’ve yet to take into account hormonal and emotional changes to a woman during pregnancy, at least it covers pretty much most of the physical aspects. With the Pregnancy Suit, Ford is able to design their vehicles to suit the needs and wants to different customers, including of course, expecting mothers.

With the help of the Pregnancy Suit, Ford engineers made necessary design changes in their vehicles from the Focus to the Fiesta to even Ranger and Explorer to address issues such as space planning, mobility, and ingress/egress. For instance, the all-new Focus is designed to benefit expectant mothers in the areas of: position of the walk off, height of the roof, design and comfort of the seat holster, and the position of the steering wheel.

When the cameras stopped flashing, I decided to try on the pregnancy suit for myself. Though the weight and limited mobility isn’t much of an issue for me personally (I used to weigh 33 pounds heavier before), getting in and out of the Focus as well as finding a comfortable seating position is much easier with the belly bump and all, compared to a highly popular Japanese hatchback I was currently driving at the time.

“Ford makes it a point to listen to all our customers’ needs and wants in a vehicle—especially expecting mothers, who value safety. The Ford Pregnancy Suit is a great asset to showcase how Ford uses smart technology to build high quality vehicles, while always putting customers top-of-mind and highlighting safety in every drive,” said Anika Salceda-Wycoco, AVP for Communications, Ford Philippines (who happened to try on the suit herself).

Of course, the Ford Daddy Day Out goes beyond just pointing out the design and engineering advantages of their vehicles such as the Focus. The month of May is christened as Road Safety Awareness Month, so Ford has devised safety tips for fathers-to-be so that they may understand the driving constraints of their partner and improve the safety and comfort or their wife and future child:

Make sure your wife is wearing her seatbelt correctly – Make sure that the lap belt is positioned below her abdomen, across her hips (NOT directly over her bump). The shoulder strap should be between her chest, and make sure to tug on the belt to make sure it’s nice and snug. Never tuck the shoulder belt under her arm or behind her back.

Move her seat back – Move her seat back to a comfortable distance when she is driving while still being able to operate the pedals with arms slightly bent. Recline the seat slightly and tilt the steering wheel (normally downwards) can also help. Doing this will protect her stomach in the event of an airbag deployment.

Support her back – If she has pregnancy related back pain, place a small circular back pillow to support her lower back or use a rolled up towel. This will help increase comfort while she is driving.

Take a break – If she’s driving for a lengthy period, ask her to take regular breaks to increase blood flow to her feet. Feet and ankle are prone to swelling and it can worsen by sitting for long periods. Take a break to gently move her feet around, rotate the ankles, and wiggle the toes.

Let her be the passenger – When possible, ask her to be a passenger. Sitting in the backseat is the safest spot in the car for an expectant mother. If she sits in the front seat, make sure to push the seat back as far from her as you can to protect from airbag deployment.

Have information ready – Wherever you go, make sure to bring along her pregnancy record card, which includes a detailed list of medical information, test results, and emergency contacts.

Remember that car safety is always important, and even more so when your significant other is pregnant. Make sure to follow these tips to ensure the safety of your wife as well as that of your future child.

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