Physical and hormonal changes, anxiety and to-do lists can be overwhelming for someone who already has a pretty important job: growing another human being.
While it’s safe to say that women do most of the work when it comes to pregnancy, being a hands-on partner can make a world of difference for mom-to-be, both emotionally and physically.
Here are my top eight tips on how to be a supportive partner, and help carry the load during the next nine months (and beyond):
- Stay up-to-date: Even though you can’t physically experience what your pregnant partner is going through, that doesn’t mean you can’t learn about it! Join her at doctors appointments and childbirth classes, read articles and books about how her body is changing and the baby is developing. Speak with friends and family who are already seasoned parents and can offer you advice during this journey.
- Keep calm and carry on: Your partner may seem like a completely different person now that she’s pregnant. Hormonal and physical changes can have her being emotional, short tempered, forgetful, nauseated and constantly fatigued. And while it certainly can feel frustrating for you, remember that these changes are natural and temporary. The best thing you can do is stay calm, listen and help her through the roller coaster of emotions. A hug, kiss or a shoulder to cry on can go a long way.
- Tell her she’s beautiful: Many women can feel self-conscious about their bodies during pregnancy. Stretch marks, weight gain, water retention and pregnancy acne can make it difficult for them to see beyond the physical changes taking place. Remind her how beautiful she is and reassure her that she’s doing an amazing job already.
- Create memories: Life is about to get a whole lot busier once baby arrives, so take advantage of the alone time the two of you have now and make some memories! Sweep her off her feet with a weekend getaway or even an impromptu picnic or date night. Surprise her by booking a maternity photo shoot where she can be pampered and feel like a princess. Don’t forget to take a monthly photo of that growing baby bump to look back on.
- Get Physical: Pregnancy can be physically taxing on the female body, especially as the baby and the bump grow. One of the most helpful things you can do to alleviate the discomfort is to give plenty of back rubs, foot rubs and massages. Offer to run her bath to relax her aching body and muscles.
- Step up and step in: Your partner’s energy levels are quickly depleted during pregnancy. You may notice she falls asleep a lot earlier or has to sit/lay down more frequently; her nausea may make it impossible for her to cook or clean. There are many ways you can help her out, and the best place is around the house. Offer to use any cleaning products to clean and dust, make dinner or prep lunches, wash and put away the dishes; any extra help you can offer will have a positive impact on her physical and emotional stress.
- Aftercare: Once the baby arrives your partner will need time to recover and heal right after birth–longer if the baby was delivered via c-section, and will be relying on you for support. Help bottle-feed, change and bathe your baby. If she is nursing help make her comfortable with pillows or by bringing the baby to her if she can’t get out of bed yet. Cooking meals or picking up groceries for the household is one less thing your partner will have to worry about.
- YOU: Despite not being the one growing a human, your feelings and mental state are just as important as the mom-to-be. You may be feeling left out or have anxiety and worries of your own. Be open and honest with your partner, family and friends about your emotions. When both parties support each other, your bond and love grows.