You’re becoming a dad
While you may be constantly present and involved, the 9 months of pregnancy really are all about the mother. Many dads feel helpless and unsure of how to support their partner. You may also be having your own emotions around impending fatherhood – the responsibility of a baby, the financial implications, the relationship changes that are sure to follow… it is an unsure time indeed.
Here are some guidelines and perspectives to help you through the next 9 months:
Be patient. You will come home one day to your partner ecstatic about the new cute onesie she bought, and the next day you will come home to her crying inconsolably because there is not chicken in the freezer and she wanted chicken for dinner. Be patient. Most of these emotions are out of her control. Almost all mothers will be able to share sone instances in pregnancy where their emotions got the better of them. Pregnancy is such a BIG change accompanied by so many hormones and physical changes. This, too, shall pass.
You don’t know what she is going through. You are never going to understand what it feels like to be pregnant. Your whole body changes; there is morning sickness, aching ligaments and constant hearburn. All of that has to be experienced to be understood. Don’t try to compare her experiences to your own (I also slept poorly, the dog kept me up), or tell her that all mothers have survived pregnancy. Just be empathetic and supportive, and let her know you are there for her.
Get Involved. Go with her to search for the perfect pram, get excited about putting the DIY cot together, find some names you like to suggest to her and attend the doctor’s appointments. They are small gestures but will mean a lot to her. While she is doing most of the work on her own by getting involved and being a part of the experience shows her she isn’t alone. My husband would listen to podcasts on his way to work about the various stages, what I was going through and how baby was developing. He would ask me “has the heartburn started” or similar questions that were appropriate for how far along I was.
Help out. Pregnant women are not sick and can still function normally but a little extra help will go a long way. Pregnancy puts a lot of pressure on the body resulting in aches and pains. Growing another human is exhausting so energy levels wane quickly. Offer to help out a little more to allow her a little more time to relax and focus on your baby.
Back her up. When a couple has a baby EVERYONE around them suddenly has an opinion. This can be difficult for a new mom, who is already unsure and questioning her own judgment and decisions. Make sure that you stand behind her. You as a couple should have some discussions on how you wish to do things, and you need to make sure your respective families respect your viewpoints.
Don’t take it personally. People tend to focus on the positive side of pregnancy for a couple. The truth is that pregnancy can place huge amounts of pressure on a couple, even if the baby was planned and expected. Morning sickness can be incredibly tough to manage and hormones wreak havoc with emotions. She may not be interested in being intimate at all, or may experienced increased libido. She may feel glowing and excited (it does happen occasionally), or may feel really fat and ugly. All of these are bound to influence you as well. Be prepared to offfer some free passes and to let the negative things go. It will settle as the process carries on.
Lastly, know that you truly are her rock in this time, the one who must stand up for her, her partner in crime and recreation! She can do it so much better with your support. All these challenges have the potential to bring you as a couple closer together, and kickstart you on the wonderful road that is parenting.