How to support your partner through pregnancy
Written by Midwife Aliza Carr of Bumpnbub
It’s fair to say that your partner will do most of the work when it comes to pregnancy; growing your beautiful baby, struggling to get comfortable at night, needing the bathroom every twenty minutes, and then giving birth to your beautiful baby. You are charged with the role of providing support and reassurance throughout this journey, which is a very important job.
Pregnancy can be physically and emotionally exhausting, so helping your partner out as much as you can, will benefit her, your relationship and ultimately your baby. Every woman’s experience of pregnancy is different, therefore the type and amount of support you need to give your partner will vary. Some pregnant women feel well the whole way through pregnancy, while others experience morning sickness or pregnancy complications such as pre-eclampsia, that may need hospitalisation.
MAIN POINTS TO CONSIDER THROUGHOUT THE PREGNANCY:
- Keep an eye on your partner’s mental health the whole way through the pregnancy. If she is feeling depressed or anxious for more than two weeks at a time and feels like symptoms are impacting her daily life, encourage her to speak to a healthcare professional. It can be difficult to recognise behavioural changes in yourself during pregnancy so she will rely on you for help
- Research information together so you are both informed regarding pregnancy and birth. Read parenting books, attend antenatal classes, and ask your friends that are parents how to be a supportive partner and dad through this time.
- During pregnancy, it is recommended for your partner to eat healthily, exercise regularly and not smoke or consume alcohol. You can support your partner by also making these changes to your lifestyle during the pregnancy. If you do smoke, it is essential you do it away from your pregnant partner as second-hand smoke is dangerous to your partner and your baby.
- Your partner’s body is going to change through the pregnancy, and this may be more challenging for some women than others. Don’t forget to remind her that she is beautiful, her body is amazing and not to worry about any stretch marks or extra weight. Always let her know how much you love her.
- Prioritise your relationship and look after her throughout the pregnancy. Your support means so much to her and there is a link between poor support and antenatal anxiety. Remember the support and help for the new mother needs to continue after bub is born too. You are in this together.
- Your partner may talk a lot about the pregnancy, what she is worried or excited about. Be there to listen to her, but also talk about your worries, concerns and emotions leading up to parenthood and becoming a father. Sometimes you can feel left out of the pregnancy or stressed because of finances or the reality of becoming a parent. It’s always important to look after yourself too and talk to family and friends for support.
EARLY PREGNANCY (1ST TRIMESTER)
Finding out your partner is pregnant is exciting, but it can also be stressful if it was unplanned, this is completely normal. Be open with each other and talk about how you are both feeling to support each other. These early days may be tough for your partner, so your support is important. Your partner may be emotional and have mood swings in early pregnancy, try not to take them personally. She will feel ups and downs while adapting to this big change in her life, as well as dealing with feeling sick.
Morning sickness is the most common sign in early pregnancy, normally occurring from weeks 4-12, with nausea and vomiting happening at any point during the day or night. Some women continue to have these symptoms in their second trimester, and a small percentage experience nausea and vomiting for the entire pregnancy. You can support your partner through this period by encouraging her to snack on dry crackers or plain biscuits, drink as many liquids as possible (water, juice, ginger tea, hydralyte), cook meals for yourself or anything she can stomach, avoid foods that make her feel sick and take on extra household chores so she can rest. You or your partner can contact her healthcare provider at any time if she is unwell or if you are worried about dehydration or weight loss. Some couples choose to share the news of their pregnancy with close family and friends in the 1st trimester. This is such a fun and exciting time for you both! However, couples will often wait until after 12 weeks when the risk of miscarriage has decreased and you’ve had the first-trimester blood tests and ultrasounds, but it is an individual choice you’ll have to discuss together.
Being there for your partner physically and emotionally is really important. Be as involved as you can throughout the pregnancy, try and go to appointments with your partner, especially the first few ultrasounds. Prepare for this journey together and make time to sit with her, feel her belly and talk to your baby to feel connected to the pregnancy and your baby.
MID-LATE PREGNANCY (2ND & 3RD TRIMESTER)
You might find your partner will enjoy this part of the pregnancy more than the 1st trimester, especially if her sickness eases and she can now start to feel the baby move. After 26-28 weeks pregnant, your partner should feel your baby move in a regular pattern every day which is important to reassure you both that your little one is healthy and well. A great way to show support for the new mother and baby is to ask your partner how the baby’s movements have been, which will remind her to check the movements that day if she hasn’t already. As the pregnancy progresses, your partner will have more regular appointments to check on the baby’s growth and wellbeing, still attend these appointments if you can. Another exciting part about the second half of the pregnancy is that your baby can now hear voices, so bonding with your baby by talking, reading or singing to them is a beautiful thing to do. Now is the time to discuss antenatal or birth classes with your partner and book them in as these will help you both prepare for labour, birth and postpartum. You can also request a tour of the birth suite and hospital so it is familiar for you both. Don’t forget to organise leave from your work for after the baby’s arrival so you can support your partner and bond with your little one in those first few weeks.
In the last month of pregnancy, help your partner pack a hospital bag and create a nursery to welcome your baby home to if this is something you both decide on. Your baby doesn’t need much as a newborn, but purchasing a safe car seat and cot or bassinet is important in the final stages of the pregnancy. Everything will become more real for you and your partner as the baby’s birth date gets closer. Hormones will still be fluctuating, so be mindful if your partner feels upset, tired or uncomfortable now at the end of the pregnancy. Support her as much as you can, and ask your family and friends to help out if you need.
Thoughtful things you can do for your partner in pregnancy:
- Buy a full body pillow to make it more comfortable sleeping on her side
- Make her a warm pot of soothing pregnancy tea and let her put her feet up
- Give your partner a nice lower back or foot massage, or book her a surprise pregnancy massage or pedicure
- Light some candles, put in a muscle soak and run her a warm bath. A bath will help any aches and pains in her body and is a great stress reliever to help her relax
- Create memories of you two before your baby comes along. Book a weekend away, enjoy dinners out, spend weekends laying on the couch watching movies- whatever brings you both joy!
PREPARING FOR LABOUR & BIRTH
In preparation for labour, make sure you know how to get to the hospital and where to park if you are the one driving your partner. It is also a great idea to put the hospital bag in the car ready to go from 37 weeks pregnant so you don’t forget it. The more you prepare, generally the better your experience of labour and birth will be as a couple. Ensure you know your partner’s birth preferences and have discussed them before the big day. Knowing what she wants in her labour means you can strive to be the best birth partner you can be. Remind her to breathe through the contractions and help her into other positions if she is not comfortable. Be her birth support and do whatever she needs you to do in that moment; hold her hand, massage her, give her space if she needs it, encourage her and advocate for her.
Also, prepare for that early postpartum phase; be aware of hormonal changes after birth and the baby blues, how you can help your partner in the early days of parenthood and where to get support if needed. Learn the basics of looking after a newborn baby and what you can do to help; bath and settle baby, change nappies, read baby a book and bring your partner water and snacks when she is breastfeeding.
It’s nice to develop some nightly routines for you and baby, a time you can both look forward to. Lovekins baby skincare range is perfect for this time, using the beautiful, soothing Hair and Body Wash in the bath helps calm baby and nourish their skin. After the bath is the perfect time to do some baby massage. Baby massage can promote better sleep, aid in digestion and promote bonding. Lovekins baby massage oilcontains Lavender and Australian Blue Cypress to help relax and soothe your little one.
To read further on this topic, a great resource for more information is Raising Children’s Network, Dads Guide to Pregnancy: https://raisingchildren.net.au/pregnancy/dads-guide-to-pregnancy