Pregnancy can be a pretty strange time for your partner. After all – you are the one with the physical symptoms, the growing bump and the daily aches and pains. You are the one who tends to get all the attention, the well wishes from strangers and the offers of support from loved ones. From my partner’s experience, he often felt like a passenger in our pregnancy journey; the somewhat less important part of the journey to parenthood. I think this is really sad, and as such, I tried my hardest to ensure I kept him included at every stage of our pregnancy with baby number two.
From my own experience, here are some ways to ensure you partner feels fully involved during your pregnancy:
- Share the news together – when it comes to announcing that you’re expecting a baby, try and do this together when you are both present, as a shared announcement. After all it takes two to make a baby.
- Invite him along to your OB appointments where possible – the more he gets to see and hear his baby on the screen, the more he will feel a connection to his unborn child, and begin to appreciate that there is an actual real-life baby inside the bump he sees expanding before his very eyes. If work or other commitments prevent him from attending all of your appointments, ensure he tries to make the key dates such as ultrasound scans and the first heartbeat check, as these are the most crucial in terms of milestones.
- Go to parenting classes together – Going to a parenting class with your partner is a great way of learning about what lies ahead together as a team. Not only do these lessons help him to support you during labor and during those early newborn days, but also allow him to meet and interact with other families and partners, some of whom he may want to chat to about how he is feeling rather than burden you with his concerns. These contacts can become a fantastic support network for you all once the baby is born.
- Get the parenting apps – My partner really enjoyed reading up about what was happening in every stage of my pregnancy and really surprised me when he started quoting the scientific facts behind the way I was feeling. I think he saw this as a way he could really add value to the pregnancy, and support the emotions and feelings I was going through as well as the physical symptoms. Each week the app would tell him what fruit or vegetable the baby’s size represented and he really enjoyed following her progress.
- Talk through name ideas together – Whilst you may have had your children’s names planned out in your head since the age of 5, don’t dismiss his suggestions off hand and ensure that you talk through all suggestions and ideas together. Naming your baby is a huge decision, and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s crucial that the name you choose is one that you are both fully bought into.
- Plan the nursery together – One project that my partner really enjoyed taking responsibility for was that of bringing our daughters nursery to life. He painted walls, build flat packed furniture and hung the blinds and curtains whilst I sat around eating cake and I could see in his face that it made him feel really excited about her impending arrival.
- Help with the hospital bag – Ensure your partner knows what’s in the hospital bag and where it will be stored in case you go into labor earlier than expected. Ask him to also pack his own bag – a bag of stuff to keep him entertained during labor too! Waiting for your baby’s arrival can be tiring for birthing partners too, particularly if they are feeling anxious, so ensuring he has a bag full of his favourite possessions to pass the time really can help.
- Ask them to create a labor playlist – a soundtrack of your favourite songs, songs that have real meaning and emotion, or alternatively something with a strong beat that is likely to improve your mood. Give him responsibility for choosing songs that will really help you push through the most challenging parts of labor.
- Go for walks together – In later pregnancy, it can be useful to get some light to moderate exercise and fresh air every day, and it’s a great opportunity to spend some one on one time with your partner and talk about your baby’s arrival. It can be a nerve-wracking time for partners too, so let him share how he is feeling and chat about your hopes, dreams and concerns.
- Talk through your birth plan – ensure that your birthing partner knows exactly what you have your heart set on during labor, particularly if you have strong views about epidurals, pain relief, skin to skin and breastfeeding. Make sure he knows your wishes so that if necessary he can make a decision on your behalf. You may want to discuss whether he will announce the gender, cut the babies cord, and whether he wants to do skin to skin too. Those first few moments with your baby can be a hugely emotional time for both of you.
There is no doubt that pregnancy can be a huge emotional rollercoaster for both you and your partner, and the more involved and included your partner can be the better. Remember that many of the emotions you will be feeling about becoming a parent, he will be feeling too, and that sharing the experience together and talking about what’s happening really can help you adjust.