How can partners be supportive during pregnancy?
Partners can help a woman through pregnancy a lot; they may be wondering where they fit in with preparing for the baby to arrive in nine months. How can they start preparing for life with a baby and all the changes your family is going through? Wanting to help your pregnant partner is a fantastic start; knowing you want to be there to support them makes all the difference, especially when they’re combating morning sickness and the changes their body is going through.
Studies have shown that women without the support of a partner suffer from anxiety and depression more, but those who had that support had a noticeable decrease in anxiety and depression. Emotional support, financial support, and participation (like attending scans and classes with them) all helped to reduce stress for the mother - which would impact the baby’s health also.
So, how does a partner be ‘supportive’? A poll to a 23,000-member Parent Support Community gave the following answers:
- Going to the shop at night to search for a similar desert shown on that night’s Great British Bake Off show.
- Going to the shop in the morning to buy the one thing she craved for breakfast and the only thing she could stomach due to morning sickness.
- Searching for a maternity pillow for her so she can sleep better.
- Rubbing her legs to help with restless leg syndrome which has worsened with pregnancy.
You should listen to what your partner says she needs and wants - this is the best way to be supportive during this big change.
Now there have been examples, let’s dive deeper into them.
Ask her what would help her specifically; women experience pregnancy differently from each other, so make sure you are communicating to meet her needs. Every woman also has a different preference as to how they want their partner to be involved. Work out what works for you but be proactive in helping with things she hasn’t asked you to.
Invest in time to strengthen your relationship and, if you are having your first baby, cherish the months you have left with just you two. If you have children, then show each other and the children with love and attention before the adjustment of welcoming another child into the family.
Get researching and reading all about pregnancy and parenting; whether you purchase them, check out some blogs or borrow books from the library, learn more so you are more prepared. Attend a childbirth class with your partner during the later stages of pregnancy and talk with friends with babies to get any advice you need.
The following is a list of resources to help:
- Our blog post: “What to do after you find out you’re pregnant” is the guide to starting a pregnancy journey.
- Dad’s Guide to Pregnancy
- The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: a Partner’s Guide to Pregnancy
Many changes are occurring in your partner’s body during pregnancy - and after, as well, so be prepared to ride the wave as she may need different things from you as she goes on the pregnancy journey.
Fatigue and morning sickness are typical ailments a woman in her first trimester typically experiences, and her appetite may be limited due to this. Therefore, don’t take it personally if she can’t eat the dinner you’ve cooked, it may just be down to her body and nausea.
Things calm down in the second trimester and even out, their energy typically increases and nausea calms down. It’s usually the time she eats more - so you may notice weird pregnancy cravings too.
The third trimester is when the bump will grow, and it can get very uncomfortable to sleep unless in certain positions (with pillows). Common effects may include heartburn or her feet swelling due to carrying the baby. Be patient, and if her joints are aching, offer to give her a massage, bring her extra pillows, or whatever she needs to help make herself comfortable.
Give her support in making healthy life choices during the pregnancy; encourage exercise and promote eating more fruits and vegetables (or join in!).
As well as life changes and physical changes, your pregnant partner will have significant emotional changes and hormone levels will be changing, which will cause mood swings, so be patient with her and sensitive to her emotions. If she needs to rant, let her, though make sure you are expressing your feelings too as communication helps. You are partners in this journey together, so you should be able to open up to her about all the new changes and what they are making you feel.
Planning and decision-making
A lot of planning and preparation goes into having a baby, so make sure you get involved with them. A few examples of some of the important decisions you would have to make include the type of baby equipment to buy (car seat, stroller, highchair, etc) then the best care-taking items (diapers, soaps, shampoos, pacifiers, etc) - as well as parental leave from work.
More decisions include organizing childcare for when you need to return to work - as well as the fees that go along with it. Be around to support, voice an opinion and organize these things because your partner will appreciate it. Setting up the nursery may mean you lend more of a hand because lifting heavy items and assembling things isn’t something your partner should do while pregnant.
Other things that need planning include:
- Is your baby going to be breastfed or used formula - or a combination of both?
- Which bottles will you choose to feed your baby with?
- Where is the baby being birthed?
- Will you hire a doula?
- What type of birth will you have?
Situations are, of course, subject to change so you must be able to adapt to whatever is thrown your way. While it is best to address it, you should let your partner make most of the decisions as it is her body.
You may also attend prenatal appointments with her so you can see for yourself how the baby and mother are doing.
At around 24 weeks, a baby can hear your voice, so you can sing to them talk, or even read to them while they are growing inside your partner.
Small things such as helping to pack a bag for the hospital when the due date draws near.
Intimacy will change throughout the pregnancy - and after your baby is born. However, it is safe should you both feel up to being intimate with each other. Sometimes, other physical connections work best - like cuddles, kissing, and massages.
Take care of yourself, too
While there is a lot of focus on the pregnant mother, be sure to keep looking after yourself too as it can be overlooked during pregnancy too. Partners can also get overwhelmed and increase their chances of anxiety and depression. Don’t forget to communicate with your partner and talk to a therapist if it becomes a daily feeling. Develop some habits as a stress management tool and engage with hobbies and exercise to make yourself feel a little better.
There are many resources out there for new parents (and those who are parents already) to look into so you can prepare more for parenthood. The following resources are a great place to start:
This is downloadable content that will give you some great advice.
While you need to help look after your partner, you also need to look after yourself. Before you know it, you will be changing diapers and feeding your newborn, so invest in yourself now. It will better prepare you for becoming a parent.
If you need extra support, email our dedicated customer success team or use the live chat function. We are fellow caregivers and parents that have helps thousands of parents in their journey.