Support your pregnant partner and be vulnerable
How to emotionally support your pregnant partner and be emotionally vulnerable is a mind twister. Both of your needs are very different. The minute the home pregnancy test reads positive, your wife’s life physically changes significantly and yours doesn’t. Her body is now taken over by this growing living being; some women report knowing the day they became pregnant because they could feel their body reacting (i.e., flu-like symptoms). With every passing day her body is assuming the work load for two. Given the physical changes, she experiences a constant reminder of all of the other changes to come after the baby is born. You on the other hand, have close to nine months until your life physically changes and are forced to deal with the all of the pressures of fatherhood: the financial and emotional responsibilities that come with care giving. In the meantime, during the first nine months, you may feel like you are stuck sitting on the sidelines while you watch your wife go through numerous physical and emotional changes, unable to really participate. Not to mention, the woman that was once there for you as an emotional support and a sounding-board, may not be in the space to take on her usual role by taking on your worries, fears, and concerns of parenting. There are plenty of ways you can be emotionally vulnerable while you are stepping in and supporting your wife during the pregnancy, and help make the next nine months as supportive and smooth as possible.
How to Emotionally Support Your Pregnant Partner: Care-taking 101.
A quick summary of your role as dad-to-be and husband to your pregnant wife: Your role is to care for your wife so her energy and focus can go to the baby. To do so, normalize your wife’s experiences, support her, and give her room to be ‘sick’ and get used to care-taking.
How to Emotionally Support Your Pregnant Partner: Demonstrate (even more) patience.
Your wife’s pregnancy hormones will likely be causing fatigue, mood swings, nausea, and more. Which means, you won’t always know which version of your wife you are waking up to or coming home to: Some days may be difficult for her to find her energy and get out of bed, some days she may be in a great mood, other days she may be ready to bite your head off, or she may be on the verge of tears for no reason. Whatever version of your wife that stands before you, understand she feels just as out of control as you do experiencing her moods. Remind yourself that some of your wife’s moods swings are her hormones. While your wife may speak her truth or reality when hormonal or not, hormones tend to intensify one’s emotional experience or message. Think of her talking with dramatic language, and trying and see past the added intensity: the issues are usually real, but not as earth shattering. Remain calm, affectionate, and and open to whatever mood your wife is in. If she is crying, ask/offer to hold her and console her, if she angry with you, do your best to take it, and ask what you can do to help make things better. When she’s tired, encourage her to rest. Whether it’s doing a load of laundry, ordering takeout to make dinner a simpler process, try to reduce her stress and ease guilt she may have about not doing enough for the relationship or home, and show her that you are pitching in more to make it easier for her to step back and rest more. Let her know that you are there so she can focus on taking care of her body and baby.
How to Emotionally Support Your Pregnant Partner: Be a shoulder for your wife to cry on.
She may come home sad, or anxious about the future, she may even cry for no reason. Console your wife, allow her to express whatever her emotions are, be her shoulder to cry on by simply being there and listening. Explore your wife’s fears, hopes, and dreams; share yours as well, when appropriate. Let yourself become emotionally open and vulnerable, this will give the two of you to connect on a deeper level when sharing the good and bad of your thoughts. This is part of the process in becoming a unit, and a connected, parenting team.
How to Emotionally Support Your Pregnant Partner: Moral Support.
Your wife’s nutrition is another change she will be experiencing. There will be foods and habits that will have to be avoided for the next nine months: alcohol, raw fish, smoking, excessive caffeine, and much much more. You can take an extra step in supporting your wife and help keep any temptation out of the home by abstaining from these foods and habits as well. Get used to taking care of your body in the way she is taking better care of hers. Your child will need you for the long haul, so lose the weight now, develop an exercise regimen, get more, regular sleep. Get all of the details of your life on track now, because that first year of your baby’s life, you won’t have the same freedom to do so. Educate yourself on the recommended foods and nutrients that are good for a pregnancy so you can make sure these foods are in the home. Make the transition even easier by have some healthier snacks prepared and ready for your wife, to increase her chances of following through on these new habits. Involve yourself in the doctors appointments, ask questions, find out your wife’s symptoms, help your wife remember to take her prenatal vitamins. Research the best baby products, high chairs, strollers, etc. Read the baby books, learn about your baby as he/she grows week by week, and learn about how it will impact your wife day by day.
How to Emotionally Support Your Pregnant Partner: Celebrate, Go on vacation!
Take your last kid-free vacation with your wife. Take this opportunity to enjoy one of the last moments the two of you have being a small family of two. It’s important to spend quality time together and build even more positive memories for the two of you to look back on. Whether it’s a four-day road trip, or a more exotic vacation, make the time to take an adventure together, and to get some rest somewhere peaceful and relaxing.
How to Emotionally Support Your Pregnant Partner: Sex: Go With the flow.
Depending on the day, depending on the trimester, and depending on your wife, sometimes sex will be high in frequency, and sometimes that will be the last thing on your wife’s mind. The best thing you can do is simply go with it. Be patient, be understanding. When your wife’s sexual energy is on the up, enjoy it, take advantage, and have fun! Ask your wife questions. Her daily changes in her body is a great opportunity for you to develop a new type of sexual communication
How to Emotionally Support Your Pregnant Partner: Share your fears, needs, desires.
Take time out to share with your wife the expectations and emotions you are experiencing as a father-to-be, by sharing your wants, pressures, etc.
-What are you most looking forward to as a dad?
-Do you fear the dynamic will change with the addition to your family? How?
-What keeps your moving past your fears about parenthood?
-What are you most fearful of as you await the birth of your child?
-What are your expectations around sex and intimacy with your wife after the baby is born?
-Do you have ongoing concerns about finances, savings, schools, etc?
As you explore these areas with your wife, this gives the two of you the chance to relate and empathize with some of your worries. It also gives your wife the opportunity to share her views, maybe she sees the upcoming months and years differently. Maybe her perspective helps ease some of your fears.
How to Emotionally Support Your Pregnant Partner: Shower her with love and affection A LOT!
Compliments, kind words, hand holding, initiating back rub, all verbal and physical affection will go a long way with your pregnant wife. The physical changes your wife is experiencing can lead to moments of feeling less than herself, or may cause insecurities at times. The more verbal and non-verbal assurance you can give your wife that she is more beautiful than ever, and handling her pregnancy like a champion, will help counter the negative thoughts and she is experiencing. You can take this even one step further help her transition into her new body by taking her to a maternity clothing store, and treat her to a few special items that she can grow into and feel good in.
The next nine months will be a learning experience for both of you, regarding patience, empathy, communication, etc. Going through your spouse’s pregnancy will show you what you are both made of as parents to-be and as spouses. Use the next nine months as practice, and take this opportunity to allow the pregnancy experience to strengthen your relationship and to better prepare you for parenthood.