Pregnancy poses a range of challenges as women learn to cope with the lack of energy, cravings, mood swings, and other symptoms that come with having a baby. Expectant mothers need more support and care during this time than ever before; however, men often struggle with knowing how to best provide emotional and physical support. Each woman is different so the specific ways in which a man should support his pregnant partner will vary; however, the following pointers on how to support your pregnant partner can be applied to married and unmarried couples of all ages and walks of life.
If you do not know much about pregnancy in general, now is the time to read up on the basics. Each trimester, or three-month stage in pregnancy, brings with it unique challenges and joys. Learn what is going on inside your partner, so you can offer support but also share in the excitement about the upcoming arrival of a new baby.
Alternatively, if you are not entirely sure you and your partner are ready to become parents, it is wise to take some time to discuss your situation and options. A pregnancy center can offer limited medical services at no cost to you such as an ultrasound and STD testing. For couples who want to explore not only parenthood but also abortion and adoption, an advocate can present critical information on these options.
Your partner will inevitably need more physical support than in times past. She may be tired as her body manages its regular schedule. Taking over chores she used to do can help her get extra rest and may also help her avoid smells that could make her sick. During the first trimester, some extra jobs you may want to offer to help with could include the laundry, cooking meals, cleaning up the kitchen, or cleaning the bathrooms. In the third trimester, when the baby grows in size and your partner may find it more difficult to walk or bend over, take over any physically demanding jobs that she may find difficult or even impossible to accomplish without help. This also includes the incredibly fun job of setting up the nursery.
Emotional support is just as important as physical support. Your partner’s body will change over the next nine months as her stomach grows. Many women experience low self-esteem during this time and may not feel as attractive. A man can counteract these feelings by complimenting his partner’s appearance, bringing up fond memories of shared past events such as a first date or first kiss, and being physically affectionate to let a woman know she is loved and cared for.
Continued involvement in the pregnancy is yet another important form of emotional support. Show up for your partner’s medical appointments if she would like you to be present. If you are unable to come to an appointment or your partner would rather go on her own, be sure to ask her about the appointment when she gets home. Taking childbirth and parenting classes together is yet another good way to show emotional support and let your partner know that she’s not expected to do everything on her own.
Have a Flexible Schedule
There are likely some aspects of your schedule that you cannot change, especially if you have a full-time, nine-to-five job. However, try to be as flexible as possible to accommodate your partner’s needs. Perhaps you eat out every weekend, but your partner feels tired and would rather stay home. Although you may be helping your partner with a set number of chores, she may have difficulty managing a particular job on her own and need you to step in and help.
Now is also a good time to look into your workplace’s policies regarding parental leave, days off, and vacation time. You may need to rearrange your previous plans so you will be available to accommodate your partner’s needs during pregnancy and after the baby is born.
Prepare for the Baby
Preparing for the baby together is not only enjoyable but also a bonding experience. Talk about your plans for the future, discuss your financial situation, and work together to prepare your home for a new baby. Shop for baby furniture and clothes, organize a baby shower if you feel so inclined, and decide on a name for the baby. You may choose to attend parenting classes together. Start your preparations early on, as it may take weeks or even months to make important, baby-related decisions and get everything in order for the baby’s arrival.
Knowing how to support your pregnant partner can have a significant impact on the outcome of the pregnancy. Studies show that men who are financially and emotionally supportive decrease their partners’ stress levels, thus improving the overall health and well-being of both the mother and the baby. At the same time, bear in mind that you do not have to go it alone. Connecting with caring medical staff and volunteers from a local pregnancy clinic can help your partner confirm that she is indeed pregnant and help you learn valuable information about the pregnancy, including the age and viability of the fetus. If you decide to carry the pregnancy to term, a pregnancy center may recommend a qualified OB-GYN to you who can provide needed medical care throughout the pregnancy and help you prepare for the upcoming delivery.
At Willowbrook Women’s Center, we take pride in offering limited medical services and emotional support to expectant mothers and their partners. If you and your partner, or someone you know, would benefit from our services, feel free to get in touch with us at your convenience and schedule an appointment, especially if you have doubts about what your next step is going to be.
Sources Kashanian, Maryam; Faghankhani, Masommeh; Roshan, Massomeh, Yousefzadeh; Pour, Mohammad Ehsani; Sheikhansari, Narges; (2019) Woman’s Perceived Stress During Pregnancy; Stressors and Pregnancy Adverse Outcomes; Tailor and Francis Online; retrieved from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14767058.2019.1602600?journalCode=ijmf20