Those of us who are blessed with having an involved, dedicated partner throughout pregnancy are so fortunate. I will forever be grateful for how helpful and caring my husband has been. I know that he will be a great father.
But do you ever wonder how to help daddy feel fully included in the process of pregnancy? After all, the child is just as much his as it is yours. And yet you have the privilege of carrying this child, while he may struggle with feeling left out at times.
If you have a loving and supportive partner, there is no need to go it alone. Give daddy opportunities to be involved!
If you want to enjoy the closeness of journeying through pregnancy together, here are 8 tips for you.
1. Share Your Struggles and Concerns
Throughout pregnancy, there will certainly be some aches, pains, and odd symptoms you encounter. You might struggle to keep your food down, your back could be killing you, and you may not have an ounce of extra energy.
Share these struggles with your partner. Let him know how you are feeling. Growing a baby is hard work, and it can be hard on your body. Your partner can sympathize with you and reassure you that this is all a part of the process.
You may feel concerned about the baby's well-being, or how life will change once the baby arrives. Share these concerns with your partner, too, and discuss what you can both do to ease your worries. You will find that your partner can be a rock for you in these emotional times, and he will in turn feel needed.
2. Accept His Help
When you are experiencing nausea, exhaustion, mood swings, and an array of other pregnancy-related ailments, your supportive partner will likely want to help you out. He may offer to go out and get that one food you're craving, you know, the only thing you can keep down right now. He may encourage you to take naps and relax, or offer a back rub.
Whatever he is doing to try to help you, let him help. Even if he doesn't do the dishes the way that you would, let him do them for you. If there are things he is doing to try to help that are actually not helpful at all, feel free to tell him what actually would be helpful so that he can do that instead.
Just always remember that he has the best intentions. He wants to be there for you and the baby. Give him that chance to feel helpful.
3. Dream About the Future
Pregnancy is such an exciting chapter in life. There is a new life coming into the world very soon! This leaves so much to look forward to and dream about.
Take some time to dream about the future with your partner. Ask him what he thinks the baby may look like. Will the baby maybe have mom's blue eyes and dad's dark hair? Ask your partner what he dreams about teaching the baby as he or she grows us. Is there a favorite sport or hobby that he would like to pass along?
It is so fun to dream about the new little life in your tummy, especially when you can include your baby's daddy. This will help dad remember what a valuable role he is going to play in your baby's life.
4. Go to Prenatal Appointments Together
I felt so supported when my husband came with me to my very first prenatal appointment. He loved being involved in the experience and hearing about how our baby was doing.
Unfortunately, he has not been allowed to come in to my last few prenatal appointments, due to the current pandemic. However, he has still driven me to my appointments and waited for me in the parking lot. This way, he's still been as involved as possible, while helping me feel less stressed about getting to the hospital than if I were alone.
In a couple of weeks, for my 20-week ultrasound, I'm planning on FaceTiming with my husband so that he can see our little baby along with me. If you're facing a similar situation, where your partner wants to be involved in your prenatal appointments but is unable to physically be there, modern technology can be a great help.
(Update: My husband ended up being allowed to come to my 20-week ultrasound. Yay!)
5. Take Prenatal Classes Together
When it comes time to give birth to your little one, you will be grateful to have your partner by your side. In preparation for this, attending prenatal classes together will help you to both be ready for labor and delivery.
If in-person classes are not currently an option for you, as they are not for us, online classes can be a great option. Many online prenatal classes include birthing tips, videos, and key information about what is going on with your body.
Prenatal classes have helped me to feel more confident that my body will be able to deliver this baby, and they have given my husband tangible tips about what he can do to help me through labor. Labor and delivery will be such a bonding experience for you and your partner, just as it will be for my husband and me.
6. Create the Nursery Together
You may feel an urge to take the reins on the nursery as nesting sets in. But don't forget to let your partner help you!
Ask him for his opinions on wall color, furniture, and the nursery theme. He may not have a lot of input, or he may have a ton, but either way he will be glad that you thought to include him. (And you will be glad to have his help when it comes time to set up that complicated crib or move heavy furniture!)
Maybe his idea of a calming, functional nursery is different than yours. Have those discussions about what is important to include in the nursery, and what isn't. Ask him which baby gadgets he thinks are necessary, and which probably aren't.
Enjoy the nursery preparations together, as you dream about the memories you will make there. Let daddy's voice be heard!
7. Explore and Choose Names Together
You may have had some baby name ideas brewing before you even met your partner. Now that he's here, and you're about to have a child together, it may be time to let some of those name ideas go (or at least to compromise a little).
Ask your partner which names he loves. Maybe there are some family names that he would like the baby to carry on.
In my case, my husband and I decided that I would choose the first name and he'd choose the middle name. Another idea is that one of you could name the boys and the other name the girls. Maybe one of you has no interest in naming and wants to leave it entirely to the other.
Whatever the naming agreement may be, have some name discussions and make sure that you're both on the same page. This will help your partner to feel valued, and possibly even honored.
8. Make Baby Parenting Decisions Together
Once the baby arrives, you will be on the journey of parenthood together. Thinking about some key aspects of parenting before the baby is born will help you both to feel more secure in starting out on this journey.
Think about things such as: will you breastfeed or bottle feed? Are you planning on using disposable diapers or cloth? How do you both feel about various methods of discipline? What are your plans for child care?
All of these aspects of parenting, and many more, will affect both you and your partner. Discuss how various options would affect each of you, and decide from there what will be best. You can always make adjustments along the way.
For your partner, being involved in all of these parenting decisions, rather than being forced into them, will help him to know that his parental values and beliefs are important. In a loving relationship, his input matters just as much as yours.
You may have noticed a theme in all of these tips: together. As you navigate pregnancy, remember that you and your partner are in this together. Now is a great time to work on that togetherness that will hold you through the challenges of parenting that are to come.
Focus on that togetherness, and you'll look back on many fond memories from your pregnancy for years to come. You will never regret including daddy from the start.