How to Share in Your Partner’s Pregnancy
When couples become pregnant, a lot of the attention suddenly (and understandably) becomes placed on the mother-to-be. And while it is true that her body will be experiencing the physical changes pregnancy brings, psychologically speaking, both partners will be sharing a whirlwind of new emotions. In this way, new dads can play a special role in helping their partners through these changes, while at the same time improving their relationship and helping themselves to prepare for fatherhood.
Tips for Helping Her Through the Physical Changes
Although your partner may be experiencing many physical changes you have difficulty understanding, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do to help. Follow these tips to help show your partner you’re there for her, no matter what:
- Help her stay healthy during pregnancy. A healthy diet is crucial for a healthy pregnancy, but if your partner has to endure your own poor eating habits, it may be more difficult for her to become committed to getting the nutrition her body needs to properly nourish her child. Therefore, it is important that you both adopt a healthy eating plan that includes healthy foods and exercise. Also, exposure to smoke – whether first or secondhand – can be dangerous for your child; so make sure you limit your partner’s exposure by helping her to quit smoking or quitting yourself. Limit both of your intakes of alcohol as well.
- Don’t be afraid to continue having sex if that is what you both want. In general, having sex during pregnancy does not pose any serious risks for either mother or child. In fact, having sex can help maintain intimacy in your relationship. That being said, be aware of any discomfort in your partner; there are certain positions that may be more comfortable for her as her pregnant belly grows.
- Be there for her. Although you may never endure the same changes your partner experiences during pregnancy, that doesn’t mean you can’t understand them. That’s why it’s so important to accompany your partner to her prenatal exams whenever you can. Not only will this be an enlightening experience for you, it will also be an exciting way to share in the wonders of your child’s early life. You will be able to hear his or her first heartbeat, and even see your baby inside the womb. Also, be sure to join in on the birth or Lamaze classes – even though it’s not considered “necessary” by medical professionals, having you there will be a tremendous source of support for your partner.
Tips for Helping Each Other Through the Emotional Changes
In addition to your physical help and support, your partner will greatly appreciate your emotional encouragement during this extraordinary time. Of course, you will also need her support, as the thought of becoming a father can be overwhelming for a new dad as well. To help each other, try these simple suggestions:
- Plan for the baby. This may seem obvious, but unfortunately many couples takes this step for granted when embarking on parenthood for the first time. Be sure to discuss such things as where the baby will be sleeping, how you will be planning financially for his or her arrival, and your expectations in terms of parenting styles. Having these types of conversations early can help prevent any misunderstandings later on.
- Help your partner. Even though you may be used to a certain daily routine, anticipate that your partner is going to need some additional help during pregnancy. This includes helping with the housework, food preparation and childcare (if applicable). In addition to these daily tasks, be sure to invite your partner to indulge every once and a while to have a massage, take a shopping trip, or have a fun night out with some friends.
- Pick your battles wisely. Pregnancy can be stressful for everyone involved, but especially for your pregnant partner. She will no doubt be experiencing hormonal shifts that may alter her mood and/or behavior. Instead of lashing out, be patient and supportive of your partner; try not to indulge in petty arguments that could foster resentment over time. Instead be open and honest with your partner; opening up the lines of communication will encourage her to share with what she is going through, and help each of you to be more aware of each other’s feelings.