It’s part of our desire to be empowering and supportive men to the women in our life, it’s part of our responsibility to them – to the women, mothers, sisters, wives, and girlfriends around us.
However, being the supportive man a woman wants and needs during pregnancy is a whole different ball game.
It’s important to understand what women are going through as part of the stages and sequences of the child-bearing years so that we can be the most supportive and well informed version of ourselves moving forward.
What I have found is that there is a distinct dearth of information available out there on the internet (or anywhere else for that matter), addressing how to best support both a pregnant and laboring woman. What information IS out there will only give general tips like “be supportive” but no real practical advice as to what that means, what to do, or how to achieve it.
Here is a condensed list of three kinds of support that women usually need from their partners throughout their pregnancies and how best to achieve these kinds of support
How to Support the Pregnant Woman in Your Life
1) Trust her instincts
Nothing hurts more for a pregnant woman, who is more sensitive to her environment and more attuned to potential dangers, than to have her partner second-guess her instincts. Whether her gut feeling is that the milk is slightly soured, or that her OB/GYN is not listening to her needs, she needs you to hear her and validate her thoughts and feelings.
It’s best to support your partner with kind words of acceptance and agreement and to trust her instincts – especially with things that can affect your unborn child.
If she has a funny feeling about someone or just wants to seek out another opinion, it’s best to just go along with her plan. Trust her instinct if she tells you something is “off”… even if it means a trip to the ER or local urgent care center in the middle of the night.
This is first and foremost her body and her pregnancy and ultimately the choices of what she consumes and who she trusts are hers to make – and hopefully she has your loving support with those decisions.
2) Don’t Cave Under Pressure
What a woman most expects from her partner is for him to be her rock when things get physically hard for her and emotionally draining. It’s even more important to stick to your guns and remind her of the decisions you’ve made together.
This is especially true if you are choosing to go the less conventional route and choosing something like employing a doula or midwife, attempting an un-medicated or intervention-free birth, or even a *gasp* homebirth. In these cases it’s especially important to understand from the get-go that the pressure will get intense, and everyone – including close family and friends – may try to push you to do things their way, with frightening scare tactics in full force.
Be strong for her and remind her why you’ve made the decisions you have together. She will thank you for reminding her why she’s with you – to guide and protect her from needless fear and stress, and defend the choices you’ve made together in front of others who may oppose them.
3) Make Her Feel Like a Goddess
Okay, maybe not a goddess, and that it a bit cliché, but do work to make her feel loved. After all, out of all the women in the world, you chose her to have your child. Pregnant women undergo a dramatic, often nauseating, uncomfortable, and even excruciatingly painful physical transformation.
While some women feel sexy and glowing in their pregnancies, many women will feel like ginormous uncoordinated hippos, so your job is to make them feel like they are still the lithe and curvy goddesses they were before the pregnancy.
4) Overlook the Small Things
When you have the inevitable disagreement, with stress building and hormones racing – just be the first to apologize. It will make everyone’s life easier and smooth over things faster if you do take this bold step. Even if you are right, and you just might be (much to many women’s frustration) if you get combative you will probably only end up with a partner in tears, and all that stress and heartache is not good for baby.
Just make light of it and admit that whatever you said was wrong and you apologize, and mean it, and then go back to point three and work on making her feel like a goddess again.
Most probably she will forget the whole incident quickly and be apologizing to you in a few minutes or hours for her hormone-fueled outburst. If men have to be sensitive to women’s mercurial cycles the rest of the year, this is more so doubled in pregnancy – be ready!
Being a supportive partner is part of pregnancy, and men need to both be flexible in those things that are best left up to their partner’s instincts, and also firm and strong in the matters that have been discussed ahead of time – especially choices that are unconventional. With some concentrated efforts, and hard emotional work, an almost father can support his partner though pregnancy with the relationship coming out stronger and more solid on the other side.