While pregnancy is pretty much all about the mama-to-be, the dad or partner also plays a really important role that shouldn’t be underestimated. We’ve written this article for you to share with your support partner, to help them better understand the stages of pregnancy and what you might be going though.
Pregnancy is not only physically exhausting but it can also take an emotional toll on a woman, and so having support around her will help her cope with these changes and that support can also be invaluable in helping strengthen the relationship.
And while the focus is mostly on the mum, pregnancy also brings some pretty major changes to the partner’s life too, so it can help to take a little time to get to know what to expect during the pregnancy and when the baby is born. Always remember though that this is just a guide, and every woman and pregnancy is different – be prepared for some curveballs along the way.
Here are some important things to note in each trimester and if you want to know exactly how your baby is growing or how your partner is feeling, check out our week-to-week guide.
First Trimester When you find out you are expecting a baby, it may come as a huge shock and take some time to process. Even though you are excited you might also find yourself feeling quite scared and anxious. This is completely normal whether you were trying to conceive or not.
Get involved and get informed, things often seem less scary when you have more of a grasp of what you’re getting into. Talk to you partner about how she is feeling and what she is going through and don’t shy away from attending doctors appointments, scans and get involved in decisions regarding the baby.
Your partner will likely be feeling pretty average in the first trimester, she might be experiencing nausea and/or morning sickness, she’s going to be extremely tired and possibly also experience mood swings. Remember that this is all totally normal and try not to take things personally, be there for her, give her time to rest and look after herself and the baby – and help out more around the house.
As long as you get the go-ahead from your doctor, sex during pregnancy is completely safe and encouraged. Providing your partner is feeling up to it, it can also be good to maintain your close connection when things can tend to become all about the baby. If she is not feeling up to it, try and show her affection in other ways like running her a bath, giving her a massage or cooking her favourite meal.
Second Trimester Hopefully many of the early pregnancy symptoms should start to ease off in the second trimester and your partner should start to feel somewhat like herself again.
For you, when you can’t see or feel any action, it can be easy to forget about sometimes, but for your partner she will likely be thinking about it 24/7 because of all the changes she is experiencing within her body.
You can help your partner by eating a healthy balanced diet with her and staying active together, you may even want to think about cutting back on alcohol too, while she is not drinking. If you are a smoker then this is a conversation you both need to have. While pregnant women need to stop smoking the moment they find out they are expecting, partners or those living within close proximity to a pregnant woman also need to make some changes. Not smoking around her or in the house is a start – and this will need to continue once the baby is born – so if you’ve been thinking about quitting there is no better time!
Now is also a good time to start thinking about finances, planning out what expenses you will have before the baby arrives (doctors bills, setting up the nursery, car seats, prams etc) and then what costs may arise after the baby (nappies, formula, day care etc) as well as factoring in some time out of work for one of you to look after the baby.
Pay close attention to your partner and how she is coping, if her mood swings don’t ease or she is emotional for more than two weeks at a time, try and gently approach the subject with her. Or if you’re unsure, speak with your doctor to get advice on how best to approach it. Don’t forget to pay close attention to your own mental wellbeing too and if you’re not coping or feel stressed or anxious, speak with your doctor. There is loads of support for dads/partner-to-be out there too.
Third Trimester Towards the end of the pregnancy is where your partner is really going to need you! As the due date approaches and baby is rapidly growing, she is going to be tired, sore, emotional and pretty darn over it.
She will likely be having trouble sleeping, those mood swings might be back and she’ll no longer be that into sex or find it uncomfortable with her ever-increasing bump. Be understanding and don’t take things personally, just ask her what she would like and help her out as much as possible. If she’s not feeling up to sex, find other ways to get intimate like massage, cuddling on the couch or running her a bath.
The third trimester can be an exciting time, as things start to feel more real! You’re likely feeling lots of kicks and really starting to come to terms with the fact that there is a baby arriving soon. If you haven’t already, make lots of time to talk with the baby so that it gets to know your voice as well as mums.
If this is you and your partners first baby you will likely attend an antenatal class in the third trimester. Don’t skip out on this thinking it’s only for the mum, the information is really important and helpful for partners too – especially if you plan to be there on the big day.
Discuss the birth plan with your partner so you are across what she wants, making sure to discuss things like pain relief and any other things she wants present or done on the day – and how involved she would like you to be. That being said, on the day you need to be adaptable because she may change her mind. Whatever happens, don’t make her feel bad or stop her from doing so.
You are both possibly getting a little scared/anxious about how its all going to play out which is totally normal, so speak about this and share your thoughts with each other.
Familiarise yourself with the route to the hospital, where the hospital bag is and always make sure there is plenty of petrol in the car. Ensure the car seat is fitted ready to bring the baby home from hospital in!
The Birth Chat with other dads/partners if you are feeling a bit anxious about the birth. Remember you and your partner will be in the hands of trained professionals who deliver babies every single day, so trust them to do their job and don’t get in the way.
Provide your partner with emotional and physical support, this will depend on her and what she wants but you can try words of encouragement, massage, getting her water/ice, running a bath, making her more comfortable – and basically be ready to jump at her every whim. This is the time she needs you most, so just be ready and don’t be surprised if she’s a little short with you – or changes her mind – just go with it.
If you find yourself feeling faint or struggling to cope, take a moment to reset yourself (silently and to yourself, take a few deep breaths), it can be very overwhelming to see your partner in pain but you may need to deal with the doctors or midwives on your partner’s behalf so you need to stay strong.
If your partner has an uncomplicated birth – and if you’re willing – you may be able to get involved with the birth depending on the doctor/midwife’s discretion and help pull the baby out and/or cut the cord. You might also get to do the most important job of all – announce the sex of the baby to the room if it’s a surprise.
If there are no complications, your baby will go straight to the mother for skin-on-skin bonding and likely a first breastfeed. Once this is done it’s your turn for bonding with your new baby and it’s recommended that you also do skin-on-skin and take the time to just sit with your new baby.
Afterwards your partner is going to be exhausted, help out with everything from changing nappies to rocking your baby to sleep and everything in between – let mum rest and recover as much as possible, she’s just been through a lot.
You would have no doubt agreed on how you want to share the news of your new baby’s arrival with your partner, but when you are both feeling up to it start making calls/texts/social media announcements – and act as the gatekeeper for your wife, so she doesn’t get inundated when she’s trying to get some rest. Also be firm with visitors and let them know when they are welcome to visit, and when it’s time to leave, so you can all have time to rest and get time to bond with your newest addition.
But most of all, remember to soak it in and enjoy this exciting time in your life!