How to be a supportive partner during pregnancy
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If you stumbled upon this post, chances are you’re looking for something to share or show your partner so that they can understand the importance of being a supportive partner during pregnancy.
And if you happen to be the partner reading this, then you’re already 10 steps ahead of the rest and should feel damn proud for trying to be a strong support system for the mama-to-be in your life!
What partners should know about pregnancy
First things first, lets talk about what your partner needs to know about pregnancy.
For one, it’s definitely not easy.
Pregnancy is amazing, it truly is. However, it isn’t all sunshine and butterflies.
There is going to be ups and downs between that sweet little life growing inside of you as it’s changing your body, your hormones, your emotions and….YOU!
There’s a saying that goes, “When a baby is born, so is a mother“. And that phrase couldn’t be more true.
So what can you expect during pregnancy:
- Emotional changes (if you find yourself jumping for joy one minute and then sobbing the next, it’s ok. It’s likely just your hormones)
- Body changes (your belly gets bigger, your breasts get full, your feet may get swollen….and the list goes on! Check out this post about some common & weird pregnancy side effects you could experience)
- Cravings (yes, they’re real — you can thank those pesky pregnancy hormones for them)
- Self-esteem may go down (for some moms, seeing their belly get bigger or noticing stretch marks can really hurt their confidence)
- Aches & pains (don’t be surprised if you start feeling like an elderly woman who has a hard time getting in and out of bed, it happens, but it won’t last forever!)
- Exhaustion (yes it’s true, making a baby is truly exhausting!)
- Morning sickness (if you suffer from morning sickness, I truly feel for you. It is no easy side effect to get through alone!)
- Anxiety (You may feel nervous or scared about how your life may change after baby…these are all normal things to feel)
- Nesting (you will hit a point where you feel like you need to stay up for 48 hours organizing your entire home for baby – don’t do it, LOL)
Why support partners are important during pregnancy
It may seem easy to just show up, act excited and then go back to your normal routine, but that’s not being a good support partner.
You need to be truly invested throughout the entire process. The importance of being a GREAT support partner goes far beyond what many think.
For instance, one study in the Journal of Women’s Health states that “that women who did not receive partner support during pregnancy reported higher levels of anxiety and depression and were more likely to smoke.“
So not only does partner support provide a positive impact for both mom and baby during pregnancy, but can also have a large impact throughout the postpartum stage as well!
How to be a supportive partner during pregnancy:
Provide emotional support during pregnancy
Providing emotional support to a pregnant woman can be really tough. I won’t try to sugar coat it.
Our hormones can be so out of wack sometimes to a point where we might seem really sad or snap at our partners for no reasonable cause at all.
However, it’s really important to keep an open line of communication with your partner so that you can work through these times when they happen.
I cannot tell you how tough this was for my husband and I with our first son. It was all so new to us that there were times he thought I was just trying to be a jerk when in reality, I didn’t even notice I was being a jerk!
It took us time to figure out ways to deal with it, but once we aligned and formed a very clear line of communication with one another, I was able to confide in him when I felt upset or sad.
And he was able to be understanding & ask me how he could help instead of just assuming I’m trying to be a jerk which in turn leads to extra stress on both sides.
Help out with chores so mom to be can relax
No matter what your roles are in your household (stay at home mom, working mom, etc…) it’s important that your partner step up EVEN MORE then they normally would every once in a while.
The workload balance does shift during pregnancy and if it doesn’t seem fair, it’s because on a normal day, it probably wouldn’t be.
But considering that you and your body are going through some major changes right now, having that extra help should not be too much to ask for.
Go to the prenatal visits
I know not everyones schedules permit this one, but if you can, bring your partner along with you to those prenatal visits!
If this if your first baby, it’s even more exciting to see baby’s ultrasounds together for the first time, listen to those little heart beats and also use that time to speak to your OB or Midwife together with any concerns you may be having.
Read the baby books together
If you haven’t built up your stash of baby books, what’re you waiting for?!
This is also a great way to connect with your partner and help them understand the changes your body is going through, how to care for a baby, and how to be an awesome support partner!
Side note — if you’re not into reading, you could also get a pregnancy planner instead! It’s a fun way to track each trimester as you countdown the big day til’ your bundle of joy arrives!
A few of the baby books & planners I’d highly recommend are:
- Oh Baby! Pregnancy Planner (planner)
- The Expectant Father (book)
- The First Time Mom’s Pregnancy Journal (journal/planner)
- The Bump – Pregnancy Planner (planner)
Be just as involved in preparing for life after baby
You might think that the whole “prepare for postpartum” applies just to mom, but it doesn’t. It extends to your partner and also anyone else you may live with or have close encounters with.
It all goes back to establishing that solid support system.
Life after baby will be full of challenges. Like who will be responsible for diaper changes? Will it be a balanced load between the two of you?
What if you plan to breastfeed? Will you also have help so that while you nurse baby, someone can help out around the house?
These are all things you should try and figure out BEFORE baby arrives together, this way you can avoid any conflicts after baby is born.
Take a birth class together
This is one of my favorites, taking a birth class together!
If you’re anything like me — you don’t want to be stuck sitting in a class for 6-8 hours learning about birth. AND if you’re pregnant during this whole coronavirus outbreak, you probably don’t have the option for an in-person class anyways.
So what are your options??
Luckily, there are quite a few AMAZING birth classes out there for parents to be! These classes are just as, if not, more so informative and educational to teach you everything you need to know about giving birth!
Most of the classes cover things like:
- How to know you’re in labor
- How can your partner support you through labor
- What kind of pain control options will you have available
- Different birthing positions you can try
- And much much more!
And although I mentioned there’s quite a few birthing classes out there, I want to share the ones I’ve personally had the pleasure of taking OR was recommended to me by other labor & delivery nurses:
- Birth it up 2.0 – this birth class was created by an experienced labor & delivery nurse to prepare moms that will likely want or need medical pain relief during their birth (such as the epidural).
- Birth it up natural – this birth class goes along with the one above, except its focus is on natural birthing techniques so if you know you 100% don’t want any medical pain relief, this is the course for you!
- FREE Prenatal Course for Parent to be – this birth class is a shorter class, also created by an experienced labor & delivery nurse and goes over common labor fears, third-trimester must-knows, and a little bit about life after baby. If you end up taking and enjoying this course, you can opt to take the full-length prenatal course for couples here, which has EVEN MORE information and covers many more topics.
Don’t judge her for her pregnancy cravings
Pregnancy cravings are totally real and flat out sometimes weird. Shout out again to the wild pregnancy hormones!
I’m fortunate I never had any crazy cravings. I did experience craving a hamburger almost daily with my first and with our second I had a brief period where I wanted hamburgers again.
Luckily, my husband was a good sport and got us our hamburgers. So if your partner is giving you that judgemental look for your cravings, kindly explain to them that you literally can’t help it!
I had one friend who told me she craved pickles with peanut butter…..GROSS!
Now, I will say, if you’re constantly craving foods that aren’t the most healthy for you and baby, try to include them in moderation. If you want that snickers eat it. But if it’s becoming a daily thing, you may need to limit yourself to having a bite a day or 1 bar each week.
Some kind of moderation can still be a great way to satisfy the intense cravings while not going overboard in overindulging as well.
Go out of your way to offer compliments and kind gestures
There were PLENTY of times in both my pregnancies where I’d find myself hating the way I looked. I felt huge and ugly and it really brought me down. Again, part of this has to do with those hormones.
One thing that really helped me manage these feelings was hearing my husband compliment me!
Sometimes he’d come home and out of blue say something like “Oh wow, you look really nice today!” or ” Hey your hair looks really pretty, did you style it different?”.
And let me tell you, these would be times where I hadn’t even brushed my hair yet or had 0 makeup on, so either he actually meant it or was just trying to be nice I honestly don’t know, but hearing those kind compliments sure did help me feel better.
So if you find yourself feeling similar, remind your partner that you’re going through a tough time loving your body and you could really use their support to lift you back up.
Help her get some sleep (yes, that means sleeping next to a giant pregnancy pillow if you must!)
Alright mama, you need your sleep! You’re growing a little baby inside that tired body of yours and as much as the late night insomnia sucks or the nights you simply can’t get comfortable, you really need to make sure you’re getting enough rest.
One great way is to ask your partner to take on some of the chores or errands that need to get done so you can take a little nap during the day. Another alternative is if they let you sleep in a bit.
Plus, one benefit that always does the trick is that a well-rested woman tends to be a happier woman, so if they give you any kickback, remind them you’ll probably be in a better mood if you could just catch up on some sleep LOL.
And extra bonus – if he’s willing to get you one of those massive pregnancy pillows, he’s a keeper for sure 🙂
DON’T make her feel bad if she just ‘Isn’t in the mood’
There were countless times I could think back to where the idea of being touched or getting intimate just physically made me cringe.
Partly because I was tired, in some kind of pain, or just really really hot!
Depending on your trimester, you might have you have some surges where you libido is actually heightened! In those cases, great, take advantage of it while you can!
In the others, try to remind your partner that between your lack of sleep, raging hormones, aching back and constant feeling of being hot just makes intimacy sound not so pleasant and the BEST thing they can do is try to be understanding.
Maybe instead of intercourse, you could experiment with giving each other a back massage, take a bath together, or simply snuggle up and watch a movie!
If the idea is to just be close to one another, those other options should be a bit more comfortable to try out 🙂
Indulge in the baby shower planning together
This one almost didn’t make the cut because it technically doesn’t make someone a bad support partner if they just aren’t into baby showers.
However, when I asked a few of my mom friends one thing they wish their partners did during their pregnancy, it was “to help plan and be involved in the baby shower”.
I personally think the best way to have your partner involved is to consider throwing a co-ed baby shower. This way it’s not some boring event full of women talking about babies, dads can actually be involved, maybe have some of their friends there too.
Another way is to ask their opinions on decorations, invitations, themes, etc… instead of saying “Oh I want this for our baby shower”, show them your top 2-3 options and ask them which ones they like best!
From there, it’s up to you how involved you’d like them to be, or maybe you don’t care. Either way, there’s always a way to help them feel included in all the special planning as well!
What other ways do you think could help someone be a supportive partner during pregnancy???
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This is such a great post! I found that my husband felt helpless in a lot of ways but wanted to do whatever he could to help. I just kept communicating with him to let him know what he could do. It’s so important that you work as a team with your partner, even though us moms do most of the work during pregnancy, there is so much dad can do to help!
Oh man, 100% having that team mentality and support is so important! It makes me so sad when I see people drift apart during pregnancy when they should be coming together during this special time. And I’m such a supporter of dads being apart of the pregnancy as much as mama <3