Your partner is pregnant. This is likely new news, and you may be feeling many different emotions. Whether or not the pregnancy was planned, you may be feeling excited, anxious, happy, surprised, numb, proud, or any number of things. (All of this is absolutely normal!) Your partner may be experiencing any mix of these things while also bearing the physical aspects of the pregnancy. You are no doubt wondering how to be a supportive husband during pregnancy, and we’re here to help. Let’s focus on weeks 4 to 8, and we’ll follow up with more advice as the pregnancy progresses.
Being a Supportive Partner During Pregnancy
Your partner is going through so many changes right now. She may be now, or in the near future, experiencing exhaustion, morning sickness, heartburn, indigestion, and various other discomforts. Educate yourself on what is going on with her body and in the pregnancy. It will not only help you to understand her better, but it may also make you feel more connected to the pregnancy and the process. Being a supportive husband during pregnancy starts with education. A great place to start educating yourself is with Kopa Birth’s pregnancy week by week posts.
Or, download a copy of my free Ebook, Pregnancy Week by Week: A Guide to Your Changing Body & Baby’s Development.
Give up Harmful Habits
In these early weeks, an expectant mom may be working hard to eliminate anything that isn’t healthy for baby. If she drinks or smokes, these are likely the very first changes she wants to make. Be supportive of her efforts to make these important changes. If you share these habits, consider giving them up along with her. It will not only provide support to her but will help you be healthier in the long run as well.
Another way to be a supportive partner during pregnancy is to help protect her from these dangers from others. Second-hand smoke may harm her or your unborn baby. If you don’t give up the habit, keep it away from your partner. If friends or family smoke, ask them to do so away from her as well.
Get Moving Together
Exercise is healthy for mom and baby, and can actually help improve her energy (1). However, she may find it difficult to keep up with an exercise routine while feeling fatigued. Having a partner to do it with her and encourage her may make all the difference. Even just stretching together on the days when she doesn’t feel up to anything else is beneficial; stretching may lower stress levels and help bring a sense of calm.
Just remember that before your partner starts any exercise program, she should talk to her doctor or midwife about it.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
You and your partner are both adjusting to life-changing news. You may feel elated, panicked, or anything in between. Lots of emotions, even mixed emotions, are to be expected. Talk to each other about how you’re feeling, process it together, so that neither of you feel alone in what you’re going through.
Supportive Partner During Pregnancy: Domestic Edition
Embrace Your Inner Chef
One of the symptoms your pregnant partner may experience in early pregnancy is an altered sense of smell. Things that didn’t bother her before may now be intolerable and may make her feel nauseated or even throw up. If she normally does most of the cooking, offer to share this task for now. Making or bringing in a few healthy meals a week may make her feel significantly better.
Become a Chore Machine
Look at the current distribution of household chores and duties in your family. See if there are places where you can take over some of what your partner usually does. Are we suggesting you take on every little thing and burn yourself out in the process? Absolutely not. Just know that she may be experiencing pretty extreme fatigue and that taking a little off her plate will likely mean a lot to her.
If you have pets, take over at least some of their care during pregnancy. Change the cat’s litter box. This is something she should not do while pregnant because cat feces can contain a parasite called toxoplasma gondii that could harm an unborn baby (2). Offer to do things like walk the dog (unless she enjoys that time) and carry heavy bags of food or containers of litter as well.
Supportive Partner During Pregnancy: Self Care
Pregnancy brings so many changes, emotions, and worries. You may not be sure yet how you feel about the pregnancy. You may not feel like it’s real since you can’t actually see any changes in your partner yet. You may feel in awe of your partner, but a little envious that it seems to be all about her. You may feel excited about becoming a father but worried about how you’ll take to fatherhood or concerned about logistics like money or your living space.
Know that while your partner is the one experiencing the physical changes, you are just as important and as much a part of this. Your health and wellness are necessary for a healthy, harmonious relationship. Talk to your partner. Talk to friends and family. Consider talking with other expectant fathers you may know in real life or finding a group online. (There are so many these days!) Be the best you can be, and that will naturally support you in your desire to be a supportive husband during pregnancy.
To learn more, in detail, about what changes are happening with your partner and your baby during weeks 4 to 8, check out these Kopa Birth posts.
1. Glade, B.C., Schuler, J. (2011). Your Pregnancy Week by Week, 7th edition. First Da Capo Press.
2. “CDC – Toxoplasmosis – General Information – Pregnant Women.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 26 June 2019, www.cdc.gov/parasites/toxoplasmosis/gen_info/pregnant.html.