It is a thrilling time. Your body is creating life. It is literally taking in food and building a full human being inside it. While this is happening, you may be noticing some changes in yourself. Not just the physical indicator that there is something growing within you – but other changes you may not have anticipated. Suddenly the foods you would wait for the weekend to enjoy are unpalatable. Your cute Sunday brunch outfit is no longer fitting the way you’d like it to. And somehow your everyday work shoes are pinching you.
The physical difference you may be observing in yourself comes with a slew of emotional ones. Scenes on the TV impact you differently, you can no longer remember what it is about your favorite book that you enjoyed so much.
You start preferring different things. And then you don’t. The way you experience things is changing at a rapid rate, especially when the time feels like it’s flying by. A part of you is confused about what is happening, and another part of you knows exactly what you need. Your partner may not.
Your relationship is changing. You are no longer a significant other or a spouse – you are not the mother of their child. The way you see yourself, the way they see you has evolved. Both of you are facing new pressures and stresses of the unknown. Amidst all the joy there will be low periods you will both experience. This is what a change brings.
The important thing for you to remember is that both of you are a team. While you are doing the physical work of growing a person, it is your partner’s responsibility to support you through it. Explaining and in turn listening and understanding is the foremost step. While you are reading and speaking to people, your partner should be doing the same. They should be learning about what changes your body is going through and how your child is growing. Being at the same level of knowledge creates a lot of comfort and does not leave anyone feeling insecure or inept.
A lot of the big questions are about what will happen during labour and once your child is born. Creating a plan together is a great step to take. Consult with your doctors, birthing coaches, and others who have experienced child-birth. Learn about their experiences and suggestions. But make any final decisions together. It is okay to learn from others and bring those suggestions to the table. But at the end of the day your partner should listen to you about your needs, and you should be open to their insight.
While you’re seeing yourself as a team, doing activities together is a great way to strengthen that. That means going for birthing classes together, shopping, decorating, etc. together. You will both bring your strengths and capabilities to the table – have conversations about where you both need help and how you can fulfill each other’s needs.
Partners – your biggest role is to be there for the mother. It can be isolating to go through something huge when the other person isn’t – this can feel lonely and scary. Be there. Learn, understand, support, and provide comfort. If you are frustrated, try finding sources to release your frustrations. Your primary job right now is to support the mum.
This article was written by Tanya Malik, a Counselling Psychologist who has trained at Columbia University and specialises in counselling for marriage and family, physical intimacy, gender & sexuality, maternal health, depression, and stress.