As a new father, you are probably overwhelmed with many feelings, but one of the main ones might be helplessness. What is your role in pregnancy? How can you show the mother of your baby that you support her and care about what is happening to her? It can be tempting to just step aside and wait for an obvious sign for what you should be doing or a clue from your wife, but believe me, she is too busy trying to manage her own new role to also explain what she needs from you. Here are 10 ways you can begin to help your partner get through pregnancy.
The best thing you can do for your partner who is pregnant is to always stay positive about pregnancy, labor and childbirth. The last thing you want to do is to scare her with stories of sleepless nights, labor pains, sagging skin, etc, no matter what someone you know experienced. Everyone is different and her state of mind will be the number one factor in her own experience, so don’t put negative messages into her head and plant a seed of fear. Instead, praise her choices, encourage and support her, tell her she can do it. You can also help her by turning off tv shows or movies with scary images of childbirth or parenthood, and stop caregivers or friends from relaying negative stories as well.
Massage or Massage Gift
Particularly in the third trimester, women’s pregnant bodies can become hard to live in. We have pressure, joint pain, aching muscles, a baby punching our organs, and stretching skin that make sleep and normal activity very difficult. As the father, one of the most loving things you can do for the woman carrying your child is to offer a massage right before bed. A foot massage can help with swelling and discomfort all over, and a leg and lower back massage will help get the blood moving and lymph system draining. If she doesn’t want massage, offer to bring her a heat pack for her back or to draw her a foot bath with epsom salt. If you can, the perfect gift for an expecting mother is a gift certificate for a pregnancy massage.
Reading and learning about pregnancy and what she is going through is such a great way to make your partner feel understood. She will feel less alone and as if she has a partner who has an understanding of this physically and emotionally demanding time. Understanding the massive hormonal and physical changes she undergoes will also better equip you to be more sympathetic when she has mood swings, cries over something small, has morning sickness all day, or just wants to sleep. She will also have one less thing to worry about, when labor starts she won’t have to explain to you what is going on and can just concentrate on what she needs to do. Here is a great list of “Daddy”/birth partner books for you to stock up on:
- The Birth Partner
- Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth
- The Expectant Father
- Natural Childbirth The Bradley Way (this is an excellent book even for those planning an epidural!)
- Fit To Be Pregnant – 12 Steps to a Healthy, Fit, Comfortable Pregnancy (Ok this is my ebook but she would love it as a gift!)
Validate What She’s Going Through
Men in particular have a tendency to want to fix something when it seems broken. When she complains about how hard pregnancy is, just remember that these are just her feelings for the moment, don’t take them personally, and try to validate them. You can say “This must be really hard for you, I can’t imagine” or my favorite “Is there anything I can do to make this easier or to help you?” Sometimes just getting it all out to a sympathetic ear is just what she needs to turn her feelings around.
Lots of women want to feel that they are still sexy, even with their changing body. Let her know she’s sexy and that you still find her attractive! As scary as sex may be to you right now, remember that in no way does it harm the baby or your partner in a healthy pregnancy. While not all expecting moms may feel like making love, many still want to feel close to their partners in this way, so make sure you’re in tune with her feelings on this matter. No matter what, shower her with hugs and kisses whenever she needs them.
When she worries about gaining weight, getting rounder, getting stretch marks, or other body changes, remind her that she’s still beautiful, even MORE beautiful (maybe have her read this). If she is scared of upcoming labor and childbirth, let her know that you KNOW she is capable and will have no problems. If she worries about impending motherhood, let her know you think she is going to be a wonderful mother and that the two of you will figure it out together.
Try to be sensitive about her new lifestyle, and consider adopting or dropping the same habits that she has to. She needs to eat nutritiously, exercise, get plenty of sleep, give up things like caffeine and alcohol, and avoid junk food and other toxins for the baby. Avoid smoking around her, drinking alcohol in front of her, staying out late with friends, eating junk food that you wouldn’t want her (or your baby) to eat. You can encourage (not nag or lecture!) the healthy habits by going grocery shopping with her to find healthy foods you both will eat, and go on walks with her to help her get in her exercise. Here are 5 essential habits for a healthy pregnancy.
And try to keep your own complaining about backaches and sickness to a minimum. I mean, we’re building a human here, you know??
Reduce Her Stress
When a problem arises in her pregnancy, research ways to help her through and be one step ahead to help solve it. If she has morning sickness, buy her a seasickness armband and some ginger pops. If she is uncomfortable sleeping, help her arrange pillows around her body and make her comfortable. If she is sick all day and having trouble with cooking, offer to do it for her or to pick up dinner. Take extra precautions to avoid meaningless arguments, and do not burden her with any unnecessary information that may cause her tension or stress. Remember that the baby feels everything she feels, and a stressed out mom = a stressed out baby.
Accompany Her to Doctor/Midwife Appointments
Not only will this help you to bond intensely with your unborn child and your wife, but you’ll hear invaluable information about pregnancy, your baby, and childbirth firsthand. You’ll also be showing your baby mama just how committed you are to her and your baby.
Buy Her Gifts That Make Her Life Easier
Over the course of her pregnancy you can shower the mother of your child with gifts that will help her cope with pregnancy. Be sure to check out these ten essential items for a fit, comfortable pregnancy for some fantastic ideas.
One more tip: just tell her you read this list. What a great first start.
What advice do you want to give to your husband or partner to help you through pregnancy? Or if you’re a dad, what did you do to help your partner feel supported?