Supporting Your Partner Through Pregnancy
Vui Mai, MD is a father of three elementary-age boys and specializes in Family Medicine with Obstetrics at our Princeton clinic.
Pregnancy is one of the most exciting times for any couple. It can also feel a bit overwhelming and put stress on your relationship. With all of the physical and emotional changes happening to the mother, it can be difficult for the father-to-be to know how to help. I know – I’ve been there three times, and even though I’m a doctor, I wasn’t always prepared. Here’s what I’ve learned.
The first 16 weeks of pregnancy can be hard on moms. The surge of hormones, including estrogen, may cause her to become emotional. Even though I work with pregnant women every day, I was caught off guard by the mood swings my wife experienced during her first pregnancy. It left me confused, frustrated, and even depressed at times. Honestly, I blamed myself at first before fully understanding the role hormones were playing. I found the best thing to do was big a good listener and look for ways to supportive. I encourage my patients experiencing similar stress to relax and try to make the best out of it. It will get better as the pregnancy progresses
Morning sickness is very common in the first trimester, and it can range from mild to severe. Eating small and frequent meals may help, but there’s nothing you can do to make it go away. Just support her as best you can. Avoid eating foods that seem to trigger her nausea. I often made ginger tea for my wife, as it seemed to help her feel better. Small gestures like a simple back rub can help bring a little comfort and remind her that you’re in this together.
In the second trimester, your partner will start feeling better. This is a happy time during the pregnancy, so take advantage of it. Spend time together as a couple doing activities that you enjoy. You will start to be able to feel the baby move. Try putting your ear to your partner’s tummy – I could hear our babies hiccup! Reading, talking, and singing to your baby is another great way to spend time together and get ready for your new role as parents.
In the third trimester, your partner will become uncomfortable as the baby grows bigger. Sleeping will be difficult, back and leg pain are common, and her ankles may swell. Offer to rub her back, feet and calf muscles to provide pain relief. Simple activities like bending over to pick something up or getting out of a chair can be difficult, so be ready to help with anything that requires lifting, squatting or kneeling.
Starting a family is one of the most beautiful times in life, but it also can be tough for both partners. With some extra effort and understanding you, the father, can help make pregnancy a positive experience for both of you.