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Caring for Your Pregnant Partner

You are in this together. That is how you are supposed to think and feel but that's not how it can be sometimes. Pregnancy can be a confusing time for a lot of men - in less than nine months you have to make all the arrangements for the big change coming your way. Very often men get overwhelmed by the expectations as they watch the future mother visibly growing. It doesn't help that she expresses herself in a variety of ways that is beyond your comprehension!

  • Understanding Hormones First try and understand the driving force behind those erratic expressions. From conception and during pregnancy hormones play a significant part both physically and emotionally. One day your wife can be bright and chirpy and the next she may depressed and sullen. Most of the time because of the incorrect balance, the behavior change of your wife is beyond her control. This fact needs emphasizing, because she does feel guilty for the fluctuating emotions she displays which are not even within her control.
  • Ante-natal Depression happens Yes, depression can happen even before the baby arrives! Not much is written about it but it does exist for some women. It stems from uncertainty; there are times she may wish she never got pregnant at all, she doesn't know if she wants the baby, she can get irritated by all the hoopla created over the pregnancy. At such times she may feel cut off, and alone.
  • Assumptions, Assumptions! Do not assume that your partner understands the anxieties you are feeling just as you do not quite understand what she is going through. You are bound to worry about many things: your partner's health, your baby, rising costs and finances, and concerns as to whether or not you will have alone time with your partner again! Talk about them openly and make her aware instead of bottling up and assuming that she should know about your inadequacies.

Over to You, the Partner

Some understanding, crumbs of caring, grains of acceptance and morsels of sharing helps. This is not going to be easy but as her partner you can't just be a bystander. You can certainly do something about it - two things that will be helpful to the expectant father are humor and honesty. Develop a sense of humor if you don't already have one. Laugh over things together. Your wife will go through a whole range of moods: snappy at times, bubbly during others and teary next. Take it in your stride whenever you can because it will pass - understand that it is pregnancy-related.

  • Give comfort (not sex!), reassure her and boost her sagging confidence. She really needs your support and dedication. Show your love by taking her out on a date! Showing her you are committed to her, the pregnancy and the baby will help her regain her confidence.
  • Try and get to know what is going on with her, the whole pregnancy thing. Be involved by going with her to ante-natal classes, doctor's appointments (especially if it is your first baby). Educate yourself and share what you have read and learned with your partner. Inquire around on what is to be expected from friends etc. You will astound her with your knowledge and make her more appreciative of you. Keep the lines of communication open with your partner and show appreciation of being involved in such an important event in your life.
  • Accept that it can be a long wait (9 months is a long time) and the wait can feel especially tedious when your partner goes through frequent mood swings, becomes temperamental or emotional over nothing. Not easy but certainly doable. On the flip side this is the time to plan and make all the preparations (once the baby arrives, it's a whole new scenario!)
  • Learn to share with each other. Once she knows you understand her feelings, she will open up with you. Likewise you need to be open about your fears, anxieties instead of hiding behind a tough front. While both you and your partner may have doubts and uncertainties over hard issues, masking your true feelings will only make things harder and even possibly cause a drift.
  • Understand and adapt to the changes. All partners argue, pregnant or not. Sometimes it can inevitably stretch into something ugly because she is not her 'normal' self. Be steady and tide the emotional waves coming your way. Although your hormones are intact, you face similar anxieties. Don't discount the other's feelings but let each other know you are there to support, no matter what the problem is.
  • Pay attention to her diet. Help her eat right; it's a great way to contribute to her and the baby's good health. You can eat healthy foods and that way encourage her to do the same. Quitting bad habits like smoking, drinking and avoiding junkie foods is no less than a sacrifice, but hey it pays in the long run for everyone involved.
  • Talk time with your partner. Plan a time when you can both talk. Take turns to talk and allow each other to talk fully. Once she has been heard, she will be willing to hear your concerns. There is a possibility that she may be secretly concerned about you despite her dismissive attitude. For instance, the idea that you may be having second thoughts about the whole pregnancy may cross her mind and worry her. The chance to talk may remove doubts and give peace to both of you.
  • Help around when you can. One approach is to take charge of food shopping and sometimes meal preparation. Fix healthy meals and cut back on fast food when you eat out. Help around with chores without being asked; there are jobs she may find cumbersome doing in this state. Your contribution and willingness to share household responsibilities will go a long way to making you both feel unified in this venture together.

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