Dads and partners – how did you manage through the minefield that pregnancy can bring?
We all hear the cliches: man goes out at 3 am to Tesco to find tinned peaches in syrup, not juice, or so help him God if they don’t have them. However, this, most likely won’t have been the reality for many. Here is a practical guide to the correct reactions to many pregnancy situations (or so according to how I would deal with the situations myself).
If your partner has a craving, please treat it with compassion. Cravings can be miserable if they cannot be satisfied. It may well be funny (I am the queen of that, see my craving woes) but they are horrible to be unable to fulfil and can make you feel uncomfortable. If it is a satisfiable craving, plan ahead. If you are running low on said item try to stock up when you can. I currently now have 100 freezer pops by the fridge ready to be frozen when the stock diminishes. I get jittery if that stock goes below 40.
2. Changing body shape.
For most men, your partner or baby mama’s shape will be one of beauty and pride that you relish looking at day by day. For her it may be the first time she has ever had stretch marks, ever struggled to fit between cars and the first time her weight (although a legitimate pregnancy weight gain) has ever plateaued to the level she currently supports. For this, continue to praise her shape, you’re doing the right thing.
However, other family and friends will fall into the minefield of, “Are you sure there aren’t two in there?” and, “You’re huge, shall I open the second door so you can squeeze through?” (that was a personal favourite of mine). To help combat the hate and hurt your baby mama will have, defend her and tell them how beautiful you think she is. Possibly even anticipate these comments and tell people ahead of time not to comment on her shape unless it’s positive.
3. Maternity/Paternity leave.
Very simple. Do not refer to it as a “baby holiday” as a joke or anything else.
4. “Irrational” behaviour.
Your partner will have many episodes of mood swings. Not in the mardy sense, more in a “Omg, I can’t believe I’m having a baby… OMG, I’m having a BABY!” and the swings from elation; to misery from pregnancy symptoms; to absolute terror at the thought of giving birth and being a mother. All within a 30 minute period. Ride with them, all will pass. If you are in a bad mood, try to take a breath before snapping, talk with her about how she is feeling, and how you are feeling too. It is a massive emotional roller-coaster you’re both riding. Share in the ups and downs together rather than against each other.
The biggie. For every woman the answer as to how to support them during labour is going to be different. From my experience the most supportive partners have been ones that are reactive to the woman’s behaviour.
- When she is stressed, try and diffuse the situation by bringing her mind back to earth, talk about something inane that will change her train of thought.
- When she is in pain support her and remind her it isn’t forever. Although it will feel like it for her. Count down the time for the contractions, “You’re half way there, 30 seconds to go”, hold her hand and listen to her.
- Respond to her needs. If she is on gas and air, keep her hydrated. Make sure she has lip balm on so her lips don’t get cracked from dehydration. If she is hot, wet a flannel with cold water for her head. Brush her hair, if she wants you to. Rub her back. Remind her how well she is doing… but don’t do it too often, that can get infuriating.
- Be her advocate. Have a chat about her wishes before labour starts. Are there any concerns she has, other than the obvious, that you can ask on her behalf if she isn’t in a position to do so. Is there anything she absolutely doesn’t consent to. Make the staff aware if she can’t do so herself.
- Stay calm. Try not to show your fear and stress. You will be terrified watching her in pain. This isn’t the moment for you to lose it. If you think you will, say you need a wee and go to the toilet to have a moment to yourself. You need to be her rock right now. You can talk about it and your fears later. If you can’t help it, try and do it away from her. She will panic if you break down.
- Tell her she is amazing. This is the easiest one. When the baby is born, tell her how amazing she is for going through the pain and giving birth to your child. You’re going to do this anyway, so I didn’t really need to write that.
All in all, just remember that you’re both going through the 40 weeks together. Although she is growing the baby, it is your child in her tummy. Listen to each other, talk A LOT and see yourselves as a united force, a team, ready to head into parenthood together. Like heading into battle, a very pooey battle.
If you fancy leaving comment, please do, they always make my day!