Whether or not your partner may be struggling or managing well with the new addition to your family, there are a range of things that you can keep in mind to ensure that you are supporting your partner along the way.
Attend appointments together – whilst it may be difficult or not possible to attend most appointments with your partner, if possible try and attend an appointment in the first three and six months of pregnancy, and more if possible as you get closer to the birth. This will give you both the feeling that this is something that you are doing together – becoming parents, and also provide you with the opportunity to ask any questions that you may have, whilst also keeping as involved as possible with the baby’s development.
Get involved in parenting - whilst your role during pregnancy is limited to supporting your partner, you can encourage her to get rest, which is particularly important in the last trimester and throughout different stages if she is suffering from morning sickness, high blood pressure or other conditions.
Once the baby arrives however there is much you can do to support your partner, from assisting with the day-to-day tasks, giving her a break when possible, and taking an active role in feeding, bathing and settling the baby. If your baby is unsettled, taking the baby for walks in the pram can be a great way for you to get out, do some exercise (which relieves stress) and give your partner some much needed, quiet time.
Give your partner some time - when you are home with your baby all day, the days can seem long and isolating, and your partner may be craving some adult company. To someone who may feel trapped at home all day, your life may seem so exciting in comparison, and she may be missing the social and mental stimulation from her work. Don’t forget to ask her about her day as well as how she is feeling, not just focussing on the baby.
Simply taking the lead to assist with small tasks or taking the baby is a very practical way that you can support your partner, by giving her some time for herself. Encourage her to use this time to do something for herself, take her time to have a shower, pop out for a walk or coffee on her own or catch up with a friend. You may be able to do a late night feed, which can give your partner invaluable consistent sleep, which can do wonders for her to help her cope the following day.
Acknowledge your partner’s achievements – no matter how big or small, this can make a big difference. Remember that her opportunities for major achievements and satisfaction are likely to have reduced, so acknowledging how she is going can be vital for providing reassurance and encouragement.
Make time for you as a couple – you can support and protect your relationship during this transition time by making time for you both as a couple. You can do this by initiating and accepting offers of help for others – whether that is practical help or offers to mind the baby. This can give you time to recap as a couple, discuss how things are going and rekindle and strengthen your relationship.
Be aware your sex life may reduce – many women will have less interest in sex – especially in the later stages of pregnancy and the months following birth. This is likely to result from her feeling tired, drained, and her body is recovering. This does not mean that she is not interested in you, it is more likely that she just needs some time, so not adding pressure for sex will be viewed as considerate and helpful.
Be a good listener – remember that listening will make your partner feel acknowledged and supported. By listening to where she is coming from you will be best placed to understand how she is feeling, share problems together and find solutions together.
Be a good talker – let your partner know how you are thinking and feeling, and share concerns together. Try not to let your troubles or stress bottle up. At times when things are getting a bit much and you are both tired, sometimes it may be better to discuss things when you are both more relaxed.