Often overlooked and seldom understood is the role a partner — be it spouse or significant other, male or female — plays during a woman’s pregnancy and birth. It’s easy to see (literally) why an expectant mom is the focus during pregnancy and birth. It’s her body with her baby physically attached! But dads and partners are also having their own special experience right alongside mom during this time. It just looks a little different, which is why it may be hard to appreciate and can lead to a disconnect in your relationship. While you will never be able to fully know each other’s experience, there are things you can do to connect and share in this awesome time together.
Attend prenatal appointments together. I know it’s not always possible, or may be really difficult to both attend a prenatal appointment, but doing so will allow your partner to take a more active role in your prenatal care. Plus, it’s helpful for your partner to get to meet and establish a relationship with your care provider, and ask any burning questions about pregnancy or birth.
Take a childbirth class. Wanna know a secret? Childbirth classes are really for dads! Ok, so that’s not exactly true. But. Taking a childbirth class can provide huge benefits in the way of providing pregnancy and birth information to the person who is not pregnant as well as the expectant mama. It also gives partners an opportunity to ask questions without fear of ridicule. There are no stupid questions!
Invite dad to feel baby kicks. Mom has the luxury of feeling baby kicks all the time, which provides a constant reminder of pregnancy. For most moms, feeling baby kicks and movement is one of the best parts of pregnancy. Inviting your partner to feel your belly when baby is particularly active helps make the experience more real and establishes a bond with baby.
Talk about non-baby-related things. Over the period of 40-42 weeks, pregnancy, birth, and babies can take up the majority of your conversations together. Be sure to spend time talking about other parts of your lives together. Balance goes a long way toward creating harmony.
Go out on dates. Creating a regular date night before baby comes helps you stay in the habit once baby is on the other side. Life with a baby is different, no doubt. But it’s not so different that you can’t maintain some of the same routines and rituals you had pre-baby. Focusing on your relationship as a couple will bring you closer and help you work better together through the new parents phase.
Hire a doula. A doula doesn’t replace dads or partners — a doula’s role is to compliment their support during birth. The best doula makes a woman’s partner look like a hero! Dads who have experienced birth with a doula report a sense of relief and reassurance that someone — besides him — will be there to look after mom and remember all the information from childbirth class and books. Most dads are positively enthusiastic about their experience with a doula.
Give yourselves a break. Pregnancy and the ensuing early parenthood time can be a difficult and stressful time for moms and dads alike. It can help if you lower your expectations and demands for yourselves and each other. You’ll get back to normal — or at least, a new normal!
How did you and your partner maintain a connection during pregnancy? What helped the most?