I have struggled to with the notion of publishing this post since May, 2014. You are reading it not because I, the husband of a woman who has been pregnant twice, and a father of one, know everything about how to support a pregnant woman, but because I believe that at least one person will find sharing from my experience, albeit brief, beneficial.
Pregnancy is a wonderful time but one replete with anxieties. It is a period of ambivalence – nine months checkered with, fears and excitement; the worry of whether the unborn is healthy and will turn out fine etc. alternating with the awe of carrying and growing another human! Because a pregnant woman, in addition to worry, has to deal with back pain, swelling (edema), stretch marks, nausea (morning sickness) and fatigue, she needs support, emotionally, physically and intellectually.
Without being insensitive to the plight of single or unmarried pregnant women, I write the following points to show how a husband can and should support his wife.
- Accompany her to ante-natal appointments as many times as possible: Be there when the Obstetrician is seeing her. She will find your presence encouraging. Also, she will need you to help queue up to pay hospital fees or even to hold her handbag, especially when she is far along.
- Give domestic assistance: Because of symptoms like back pain, fatigue and nausea your wife will not be as active as before. So, intentionally, do some chores. If you can cook, make some meals for her – even if you have a cook. If you cannot cook, and you have a house help, do something. At least you can serve the food another has made.
- Be patient and understanding: Be an active listener to her complaints and fears (both real and imagined) and do not make light of them. Satisfy her food cravings as much as you can, and as long as it is healthy for her and the baby. It won’t come easy, but resolve to accept, not tolerate, the mood swings and irritations. For instance, I had to polish my shoes outside the house; we had to give up deodorant and air freshener, change washing and bathing soap, and toothpaste several times because the smell and taste upset my wife. This was easier written than experienced, by far!
- Educate yourself: Especially if you are having the pregnancy experience for the first time. I recommend these two sites: www.whattoexpect.com & www.babycenter.com. Register for the pregnancy calendar on these sites to receive enlightening and encouraging weekly updates about your wife and your unborn child. Check out the sites with her, or share what you are learning. She’ll ‘feel’ your partnership in the pregnancy experience. My wife and I had fun reading and discussing the articles.
- Adjust to your wife’s sexual appetite: Some women’s sexual drive goes high during pregnancy, while for others it dips. I had to cope with the latter. It was tough! Be ready to adjust. Also, you may have to change or adapt your sex positions, for the baby’s safety and the convenience of the both of you. Read about it here.
It is important to know that your wife is not acting up or overdoing her symptoms. The hormones are the culprits. Also, remember that the pregnancy experience varies for different people, as a result, the extent of your support is determined by your wife’s unique experience and your, ability, availability and understanding. Whatever your experience, it is a worthy price to pay to be a father. You can check out a week by week outline of what is expected of you as an expectant dad here.
What will you add to these five points?