How to support your partner through pregnancy and after birth

Top Rated

We asked Doula and friend Charlotte Squires how you, the partner/friend/support of a pregnant person, can best support them through pregnancy and after birth. A great one for any parent and a great reminder to look out for your loved one. 

Over to you Charlotte: 

Tip #1: SHOW INTEREST 

Pregnancy and postpartum can be a lonely experience despite being surrounded by others. Expected pregnancy or not, the cocktail of hormones, changing physical symptoms and the growing mental load can lead to feelings of isolation and overwhelm. Having a willing partner/family member or friend who actively shows up for you can be a game-changer. 

The first trimester is a great time to get into the habit of regular check-ins with your pregnant partner. Showing interest in how they’re feeling, asking what kind of support they need, how their body is coping with the demands of pregnancy, sharing articles you’ve read about pregnancy or birth, etc, are all great conversation starters. Making this a part of your daily routine will do wonders for your partner’s self-worth and connection to you. By the time you reach postpartum, you will have a solid foundation of trust and genuine care that you can both lean on.  

Even the strongest couples can feel wobbly as they move through big changes. Pregnancy and early postpartum can often be the first time where you’re having quite different experiences within the partnership. You may not be pregnant or breastfeeding, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try to understand or have sympathy for your partner’s experience. It’s important to validate your partner’s experience despite being unable to relate entirely.  Having someone who shows genuine interest and does their best to understand them will leave them feeling seen and supported. 

Take the time daily to check in with your partner. It can be as simple as:

  • A thoughtful text throughout the day (“How are you feeling this arvo?” can go a long way);
  • An action like packing their lunch for work so they don’t have to think about it;
  • Doing an extra household task before you leave for work;
  • Or more in-depth, like being that shoulder to cry on after a long day.

Tip #2: NOURISH THEIR BODIES

Once somebody knows they’re pregnant, their mental load of caring for themselves quite literally triples in an instant. All of a sudden, they’re considering every mouthful, every skincare product, every bodily function, if they’ve moved their body, every change in their digestion, every ache/pain and more. It is a full-time job caring for a growing baby, and that only continues once the baby is earthside. 

Our bodies reach the extreme of physical endurance during pregnancy and early postpartum. Our physical beings require great tenderness in order to grow and then again to heal post-birth. There is a lot partners can do to support a pregnant person in caring for themselves and their babies. 

Let’s start with how to care for your partner’s body in pregnancy:

  1. Make sure there are always snacks in the house. Morning sickness can worsen when hunger kicks in. Having healthy snacks in the fridge ready to go is the easiest way to stop the nausea in its tracks and help your partner feel better fast. (If your partner has HG or Hyperemesis Gravidarum, look here to get extra tips on this). 
  2. Research nutrient needs during pregnancy and help plan meals for your partner. It may be helpful to have a day you spend cooking together to prep for the week. This takes the decision fatigue out of daily meals, and it means you can spend more time together during the week rather than in the kitchen.
  3. Give your partner some loving touch. This can be a 10-minute foot rub, a shoulder massage after work, a back tickle as they fall asleep, or a big bear hug. Receiving a non-reciprocal touch that helps to relieve tension has an incredibly nourishing and soothing effect on a pregnant person’s nervous system.
  4.  Encourage rest for your partner. Fatigue can hit even the most energetic of people in a pregnancy. Rest is essential when growing a baby. Most of us find it extremely hard to give in to the rest we need, so it really helps when our partners support us. This may look like taking the toddler to the park for an hour after work, or running their partner a bath or encouraging them to stay home and nap instead of attending a social engagement on the weekend.

 All of these acts let your partner know you are conscious of the extra exertion a pregnancy takes, and they will be so grateful to share the load.

Things you can do to care for your partner’s body in early postpartum:

  1. Fill up your partner’s water bottle and ensure it is always within reach. It's such a small act, but it lets them know you are conscious and considerate of their most basic human needs. Nothing is more frustrating than being uncontrollably thirsty, nap trapped and unable to get up to get a glass of water. Breastfeeding requires us to drink a minimum of 1.5-2L of water daily, so this is just such an essential tip and will not go unnoticed.
  2. Make sure their meal is within reach and can be eaten one-handed. Your partner will most likely have a baby in their arms or will need to attend to the baby's needs during mealtime. This means her meal will get eaten while warm, and she will feel considered and cared for.
  3. Make sure there are extra snacks in the fridge—this may come in the form of meals that have been dropped off from family and friends or meals you have pre-prepared ahead of time from the freezer. Food is medicine, and it’s so important that a postpartum body is nourished with food that sustains healing and/or breastfeeding. 
  4. Prioritise your partner’s physical healing. This means encouraging bed rest for the first-fortnight post-birth. We now know that the care we take in early postpartum impacts a woman’s long-term health (both physically and mentally). It iswithin everyone’s best interest that, as a family, you prioritise a slow and steady postpartum recovery. 
  5. Provide a loving touch. Again, touch is a powerful tool to boost oxytocin, aiding recovery and overall enjoyment of early newborn days. It soothes and relieves tension, and it acts as a reminder that you see them and value all they’re doing at this time. Sometimes, touch can be even more powerful than words, so don’t underestimate the power of a hug.

Tip #3: SHARE THE MENTAL LOAD

There is often a very steep learning curve that comes with conception, being pregnant, and caring for a postpartum body and a newborn baby. Usually, up until this point, our knowledge of what to expect is skint, and our interest to learn is low until we ourselves are in that season of life. Even the most intuitive and trusting parents resort to a manic Google search when navigating the wild unknown of pregnancy and beyond. It’s very fair to say that the mental load of educating ourselves through this time is HEAVY. I am a big believer that this should not only fall on the pregnant person’s shoulders but be shared within the parenting partnership. 

This looks like sourcing books, articles, podcasts, documentaries etc, that are relevant to your and your partners' values on birthing and parenting. This looks like taking the initiative to learn and educate yourself to bring your embodied knowledge into the birth space and parenting role. This looks like supporting your partner by researching care providers, birthing options, potential doulas, birth education courses, newborn care classes, breastfeeding education, safe sleep etc. This also looks like attending antenatal appointments and asking questions, taking notes, etc, so you can both be informed and involved in the process. 

Each support person should be entering the birth space fully aware of their partner's birth wishes, their shared family values and early postpartum desires. It is absolutely true that this is your partner’s birthing experience and that they get to call the shots for their bodies, but that doesn’t mean as partners, you don’t need to be armed with your own knowledge and understanding of the process to be able to support your loved one best. 

Sharing the mental load within pregnancy sets a tone for your parenting partnership. It is a powerful way to unite and commit to this journey as a unified and deeply connected pair. Again, the fact that you’re here reading this article shows how much you care and genuinely want the best for your family.

Tip #4: ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

A powerful way to make our partner feel seen and valued is to acknowledge their efforts, sacrifices, and devotion to pregnancy and parenthood. We all want to be seen and celebrated at these times, especially by our partners. 

It is worthwhile to think of thoughtful and meaningful ways to celebrate our loved ones while they’re experiencing the bigness of pregnancy. 

I’ve compiled a list of things that are guaranteed to make your partner smile and feel the love. Choose the ones you think your partner would most appreciate and start love-bombing them today!

  • Leave a little note in a spot they’ll find throughout the day telling them how much of a beautiful job they’re doing or a reminder to breathe and spend some time in the sun.
  • Send a text out of the blue letting them know how much you love and appreciate them.
  • Take photos of them while pregnant or while sharing a special moment with your child, and send the photo back to them with a message expressing how great they are at this and showing your gratitude.
  • Plan for them to do something they love, like going for a walk solo, relaxing in a bath with a book, or catching up with a friend on a long phone call. Make it as easy as possible for them to commit to it. Remind them that it’s important that they fill their cup, too.
  • Make them their favourite drink every morning and deliver it to them without being prompted or reminded. This is a daily reminder for them that they are in your thoughts.
  • Collect a thoughtful gift you know they would love ‘just because’. Some will value a piece of jewellery, others a new cozy dressing gown or slippers, others a bunch of flowers and a voucher for a massage or a one-off doula session. You know your partner; take note of what they’ve been eyeing off and go out of your way to make them feel special. 

 

These top tips will ensure your partner feels deeply supported and cared for through this momentous time of your lives. Some of these acts listed above may seem small, yet never underestimate the impact of small, consistent acts over time; this ultimately leads both partners to feel connected and deeply satisfied within the relationship. 

Becoming parents naturally changes the nature of our relationship, yet it can absolutely lead to more love, deeper connection and more respect for one another. Trust in the process, my friend; you are on the ride of your life. Say sorry often; mistakes will be made, and that’s okay. Drop the unfair expectations and learn to communicate clearly. You will get through the sleepless nights - be kind through the sleep deprivation; no one is their best self on 2 hours of sleep. There are more people backing you than you know. Date nights will look different, but they will mean so much more. Remember to say “I love you” and make time for each other amidst the chaos. You’ve got this. 

 

Written by Charlotte Squires, The Living Doula

A Mother, doula, space holder, educator, and meaning maker, she is a talented nurturer who has dedicated her life to supporting, uplifting, and cheering on women in many different arenas. Although she is based on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, she works with women and families worldwide.

WEBSITE: thelivingdoula.com

INSTAGRAM: @thelivingdoula

Live chat loading...