Supporting Your Partner During Pregnancy & Parenthood
Pregnancy can be tough at the best of times. Equal measures novel and strange, it's an exciting yet exhausting adventure. Having a baby camped out in your uterus can cause more than a fair share of sleep troubles, as well as swollen ankles, not to mention more frequent trips to the bathroom.
This is where – during pregnancy and post-birth – partners need to step up their game! Read on to find out how best you can support your partner through pregnancy and parenthood.
Make Changes Together
Your partner's life will have changed drastically since finding out you’re expecting. They will have changed their diet, stopped drinking alcohol, and perhaps changed their routine and some daily activities. It can be difficult for them to see you carrying on as normal with all the things they’re missing and used to enjoy. Why not jump on the train and make some of those changes along with your partner to show how much you care?
Do Your Research
You’ll absolutely blow your partner's socks off if you show them how much you know about pregnancy, birth, and caring for a newborn, so get clued up! Spend time doing lots of research, reading books and pouring through articles online.
Think of yourselves as a team. Though this might be unlike anything you’ve tackled, you’ll feel stronger together, especially once you’re clued up on exactly what to expect going forwards. Not only will it help you bond, but it'll almost certainly serve you both later down the line once baby decides to show up.
Just Be There
One of the best ways you can support your partner during the tumultuous nine months of pregnancy is to simply be there. Not just as a physical presence, but emotionally. Go along with them to appointments, and be there for scans. Where possible, join in with the antenatal and breastfeeding classes, as you’ll both get lots of value out of attending.
Reassurance & Words of Affirmation
Your partner’s body will undergo a lot of changes during pregnancy, some of which they might worry about, and some of which they might not like. Let them know how much you appreciate them, and how their body is performing a miracle.
Be Okay With the Pillows
No doubt you’ll probably have noticed the ever-growing collection of pillows in your bed at night. What was once a spacious, comfortable bed is now a battle to find space to sleep. It might seem like a pain, but for your partner, this is a way of getting a couple of hours of shut eye each night amid the constant need to pee. If you really want to be supportive, get out there and invest in the best maternity pillow you can find.
Talk to your partner about the birth of your baby and find out exactly what they want. Make sure they know you’ll be there to advocate for them in the delivery room. Support their birth choices, and spend time learning what to expect during labour and birth. Plan how you’ll get to the hospital, and be ready for when labour starts with your own bag prepared with snacks, drinks, money for car parking, and chargers.
Make sure your partner can always reach you in case they need you; make sure they know they can fully rely on you when the time comes. Visit websites and shops together to collectively make decisions about your parenting choices. All of this is best agreed on now rather than when something comes up post-birth in the heat of the moment. If there’s one thing you can be sure of, it’s that you won’t regret being over-prepared. When it comes to parenthood, there’s no such thing!
Don’t Wait to Be Asked
Being pregnant is really hard work, and can really zap your energy. You’ll likely see your partner nodding off on the sofa the minute they come home from work. If you can be there to help out in the evenings without being asked, they’ll feel so relieved that they don’t need to run around doing household chores. Equally, once your little one has arrived, don’t be afraid to ask your partner what they need from you.
Communication is everything, and when you’re both so tired and frazzled, this can start to slip. Be sure to check-in and step-in when it seems like your partner could do with a hand, or a straight up break.
Look out for one another
During pregnancy, it’s important that your partner gets a little R&R in at the end of each day, with time to focus on themself and your growing baby. This will look different for everyone, whether it’s running a hot bath and taking a long soak at the end of the day, taking some quiet time to read, or watching a film. When you can, remind them that they need to rest. It can be so difficult to switch off these days, sometimes a simple reminder and a nudge can make all the difference!
Understand that this rest and recoup time is not only beneficial for their wellbeing, but yours, too. Everyone eases off some tension, and gets some much-needed alone time amid the madness.
Once baby is born, take it upon yourself to fill in the gaps when it comes to household chores. Taking the pressure off in small, but meaningful ways will relieve stress so you can both more effectively take care of your little one.
Where possible, consider tag-teaming it! Let your partner return to normality by taking care of themself, as well as some daily errands to help ground her and get her out of the house around other adults. Remember that this role-reversal is healthy for the both of you. Take the time to bond with, and get hands-on experience looking after your little one while they tap out to support you in other ways.
Remember, don't be afraid to reach out for help. Whether that's from family members or close friends, make sure you have a support network established so you aren't left shouldering everything alone once baby is born. It'll take time for both of you to find your feet with a routine that works. Even then, it will adapt and change as your child grows. With this in mind, staying flexible, and knowing that support is available to you if things do become overwhelming can only help you both.