Pregnancy Support And Dads: Supporting Your Partner
Most information about pregnancy focuses on the mama-to-be, but what about pregnancy support and dads? What role do dads take in supporting their partner during pregnancy?
Pregnancy is a time of celebration and excitement but there are also plenty of challenges. Dads play an important role in many ways during pregnancy, from conception all the way through to birth and beyond.
Believe it or not, dads supporting their pregnant partner is essential to her wellbeing, influences her birth experience and recovery afterwards. It also brings you together, strengthening your bond and creating a united team – your family.
How can you be the best support for your partner during pregnancy? Let’s focus on 5 important ways dads can offer support.
#1: Physical pregnancy support and dads
Pregnancy brings many physical changes, from morning sickness and tiredness to more physical effects such as sore joints and being unable to move easily.
You can provide physical support to your pregnant partner to help her cope with these changes. It might she needs to make lifestyle changes, such as healthy eating, giving up unhealthy habits or taking up exercise. You can join her in the move to a healthier lifestyle, and offer encouragement and support.
Pregnancy takes a physical toll on a woman’s body. Body aches and pains increase, she may get frustrated at not being able to do things easily, and feel generally uncomfortable all the time. Understand her physical limitations and be aware they will be constantly changing. Create opportunities for your partner to rest or provide caring support like a back massage or foot rub.
Some women may feel self-conscious about how their body is changing. This can change their feelings towards sex. Talk to your partner about how she is feeling and be positive with responses. There are many ways to be intimate within your relationship. Cuddles, hugs and kisses may be the perfect support plan for now.
You can also support your pregnant partner by promoting a slower lifestyle, such as reduce busy schedules andcut back on socialising. If there are other children in the family, you can take on more of their daily care to give your partner time to rest, meditate and prepare for birth, building a connection and bond with her baby.
#2: Emotional pregnancy support and dads
While often the attention is focused on the pregnant mama-to-be, dads can feel left out of the picture, a bit forgotten and ignored.
Announcing your pregnancy news is a shared joy and any other celebrations can involve you too. Pregnancy traditions such as baby showers or gender-reveal parties aren’t just for pregnant mamas – celebrating your new family together strengthens your bond as a couple.
Keep the lines of communication open. Often we wait until we’re asked to do something. Instead, specifically ask your partner to guide you in how to best support her. Make time to talk about how you’re both feeling about the birth and becoming parents. Ofter encouragement and reassurance and share your own concerns and worries, so you’re building a path of strength and resilience together.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy can make pregnant women emotional and teary one minute, but bubbly and vibrant the next. They can even seem completely irrational at times.
It is important to understand these hormonal changes are out of her control. They can cause mood swings, reduce her energy levels and increase her need for sleep. The best way to offer support is by being understanding, comforting and encouraging her to take breaks and naps. A show of affection by offering a simple hug can make her feel loved and supported.
#3: Practical pregnancy support and dads
Taking on the essential daily tasks is a great way for dads to take the pressure off their partner, especially if she is still working.
Pregnant women are giving so much of themselves to the growing baby they are often left depleted. You can assist or take over things like preparing meals, cooking, cleaning and washing, bathing other children.
Helping in this way is especially important when your pregnant partner is feeling particularly worn out or if certain cooking smells make her feel ill.
Brainstorm ways your partner is going to need support after the birth of your baby and plan ahead. Will you take on cleaning and cooking, or should you organise a cleaner and meal delivery? Go shopping with your partner for items like prams and car seats.
#4. Pregnancy support and dads
Being there from the start and being engaged is so important for dads. You can support your partner by attending pregnancy appointments such as ultrasounds and antenatal care check ups, helping to discuss options for care and planning your birth options.
Take a proactive interest in being informed about pregnancy, baby development and birth. There are many well researched blogs and websites for you to choose from.
Talk about the roles you will take on in parenting, what it means to you to be a parent and how you can share parenting roles. This can be a good time to work through any concerns about how you were raised and the things you want to avoid as a parent yourself.
Dads can talk to their unborn baby to begin building a connection. By the third trimester babies can recognise voices and love to hear talking and singing. You can talk to your baby in your partner’s belly, to help build a bond with the baby and start developing your family connection.
#5:Birth preparation support
Dads can be supportive by preparing themselves to be the birth partner their partner will need during labour and birth. Nurtured Birth offers a specific workshop for partners to encourage them to be the best birth partner.
You can read up on the process of labour, and the varied scenarios that can occur in labour. You can start to think about your role in the birthing process, making sure to ask questions during antenatal visits. This makes it clear to health professionals you’re involved and want to be included too.
Attend birth classes and be proactive in your involvement. Nurtured Birth offers tailored and in-depth private childbirth education sessions you can enjoy in the comfort of your own home. Having a doula support you and your partner through pregnancy can be a wonderful way to connect and work through your fears and expectations about birth.
During labour, make sure you are the best support by being her advocate and stay engaged with her choices and preferences. You can have an active role in birth by catching the baby, cutting the cord, supporting your partner to have a golden hour after birth, and enjoying skin to skin with your baby.
You need to support yourself too. You still need to have some breaks yourself, if that’s time for exercise or visit friends or focus on a hobby. Make sure you self-care, whatever this might mean to you.
You can always reach out to other partners to share feelings, ideas and tips. This can be family and friends, or you can make connections through childbirth classes and parenting groups. There are lots of resources out there for expectant partners.
Need to talk to someone for more information and advice?
Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby on 1800 882 436 to speak with a maternal child health nurse.
Raising Children Network, supported by the Australian Government, has videos, information and more available, such as the ‘Dads Guide to Pregnancy’. Go to raising children.net.au
Mensline Australia offers support and counselling services on 1300 78 99 78.
Beyond Blue offers support and advice for new dads on 1300 22 4636. You can download the book Emotional health and wellbeing: A guide for new dads, partners and other carers. There is a wealth of information and support on becoming a parent and what to expect.
PANDA National Helpline 300 726 306 for help for dads, parents and carers, specialising in prenatal and postnatal anxiety and depression.
Written by Sharon Clarke, Remedial Massage Therapist at Nurtured Birth