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We’re Pregnant–Tips for the Expectant Birth Partner

The words “We’re pregnant” sound familiar these days. More than ever, birth partners are actively involved throughout pregnancy. They support, worry, and plan right along with their pregnant partners. Some of the more common experiences for expectant birth partners are included here.

What the birth partner needs

Being an expectant birth partner is exciting. But it also can be challenging. It calls for the partner to take on new roles but keep everything in balance at work and at home. Even before birth, the baby can seem a bit like an intruder in a couple’s relationship. And it’s not uncommon for a give-and-take relationship to become unbalanced. This can happen when the physical and emotional demands of pregnancy take their toll. Some partners feel resentful or frustrated, and then feel guilty about having those negative feelings. These are normal emotions. It may help to share them with others who have “been there.” You’ll be surprised to learn that your feelings are pretty common. You’ll find yourself gradually adapting to your new role.

Another surprise for some partners are actually having some of the same physical discomforts that their birth parent has. These “sympathetic” pregnancy feelings are officially known as couvade syndrome. They can include morning sickness and weight gain. And just like with their partner, the symptoms go away when the baby is born.

Fortunately, having sex during pregnancy isn't harmful. The only time it isn’t advised is when there are complications, such as preterm labor. The baby is tucked safely inside the uterus. They are protected by a cushion of fluid within the amniotic sac. Because sex can sometimes be uncomfortable for a pregnant person, patience and some creative intimacy can help.

What the pregnant partner needs

Your pregnant partner’s needs are often confusing. It can be a roller-coaster ride with rising hormones and changing body. Many partners feel helpless when their partner is miserable with morning sickness or upset about their changing body It can be frustrating when their offers of help and encouragement get a rebuff or tears. Men often want to fix a problem. But women usually just need someone to hear them vent, be understanding when they complain, or be a shoulder to cry on. Giving her a back rub or offering to cook dinner can go a long way, too. But pregnant women do need encouragement and support from a partner who understands what’s happening. So going to healthcare provider visits with her can help you stay prepared for what’s coming next. Reading a few chapters from one of the many pregnancy books sure to be lying around the house is a good idea, too. And you may be surprised at what you can learn in childbirth classes.

Your partner needs to feel safe and secure. You play a big role in making sure she has healthy food to eat and a safe environment. As the baby’s due date nears, it’s important to help her get the house ready. Help her settle any outstanding work issues and have a plan in place for getting to the hospital.

Get ready

You have an exciting ride ahead—pregnancy is a special time. By being an involved and up-to-date partner, you’ll be able to enjoy the months leading up to the big day!

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