Pregnancies are beautiful. But they’re also tricky, stressful, and come with many challenges. They’re memorable and undoubtedly special, but they’re not a walk in the park.
If you want to support your partner in the right way, it’s important you know what to do before, during, and after the pregnancy. This isn’t an exhaustive list of the things you can do, but consider it a starter pack, and a nudge in changing your perspective.
How to Help During Pregnancy
Pregnancy can be a grueling nine months. Even the ‘smoothest’ pregnancies are challenging in some way. You can make the journey a little easier:
- Don’t share the news just yet. You just found out you’re pregnant. You want to share the news with your mother, your best friend, heck, you even want to knock on your neighbour’s door. But have you checked whether your partner wants to spread the news? It’s a delicate matter, don’t blurt it out without having the conversation first.
- Celebrate, but not in your way. Pregnancy can (read: will) have a heavy physical toll on your partner, even in the early days. They may not look pregnant, but they’re feeling it. Don’t expect to go out for celebratory meals or parties, they may be cancelled last minute.
- Go the extra mile. Do everything you can to help, especially if the tasks are physical. Go beyond what you think is your share, and then go the extra mile.
- Listen. Pregnancy often brings anxiety and stress. Sometimes all you can do is listen. And that’s enough.
- Be aware of her mental health. Postnatal depression is increasingly well understood, but we often ignore the impact of pregnancy itself. Be supportive during this period, and don’t attribute all symptoms as just a ‘normal part of pregnancy’.
Be Supportive During Childbirth
Being supportive during childbirth is incredibly important. It’s an event that will last hours, but the prep work should be done well in advance. Do this months before the due date:
- Take an education class. Active learning is best. Baby books help, but they may not always lead to information retention. Be proactive and sign up to a class. Go together. Ask questions. Do your homework.
- Are you on the same page? Find out what your partner’s birth preferences are. You need to have these conversations before childbirth, not while they’re in labour.
- Take care of yourself. People often think that doing anything but supporting their partner during labour is selfish. No. In order to be helpful, you need to be in top condition. Eat well, drink enough water, pack a bag with treats. It’s going to be a long night. Be ready.
- Document the journey. Of course, you’ll want to run this by your partner, but documenting the experience can be extremely rewarding. You don’t have to make a fully-fledged documentary, but a few photos and videos can be enough for a lifetime of memories.
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What About After Birth?
Okay, you finally have your beautiful baby (or babies!) in your lives. The journey is just beginning. Here’s what you can do to help:
- Surprise your partner. Having kids will have you going from one task or chore to another. Things can get repetitive and boring, even if you’re being ultra helpful. Try and surprise your partner every once in a while. Buy some flowers, stop by your partner’s favourite cheese shop and get her the smelliest (i.e. nicest!) one, or simply do a tiny gesture that shows you’re thinking of them.
- Become a chef. Or at least learn how to cook. Easy dishes that are nutritious yet tasty. Cook in batches. Buy things that are simple to eat (one hand only, for example). Freeze meals. Avoid monotony. Do this and you’ll do both of you a favour. Top tip: use Deliveroo and Uber Eats very sparingly.
- Do you need anything? This should be your top question, especially if your partner is about to feed the baby. Ask once, twice, or even thrice. Phone, glass of water, a little snack. Whatever they need, get it done.
It’s Okay to Ask
Our final tip is super simple, but definitely underutilised: ask what you can do to help. Your partner won’t have all the answers, and you shouldn’t expect to have them either. Sometimes, you won’t have a clue. When that happens, ask.
Don’t be afraid to put yourself in a vulnerable position, and don’t think just because you’re unsure means you care less or are making things worse. Figure things out together, show you’re there for support no matter what, and don’t worry about asking questions every once in a while.