When you think of what life is going to be like when you’re pregnant, there are all these ideas of beautiful moments with your husband, planning the nursery together, cooing over your growing belly – it all seems like a blissful time. How could you possibly drift apart?
But with pregnancy comes all kinds of challenges. Hormonal changes, pain, discomfort, changes to your body that you just can’t wrap your head around. And sometimes, let’s face it, you just want to bite your husband’s head off.
When I was pregnant with Erika, even the smell of my husband (which I love) would make me want to vomit. Thanks to Hyperemesis, I felt so disconnected and foreign to him because we couldn’t be close without me needing to puke – talk about romantic! Not!
I was tired, exhausted, sick, sick of being sick and frustrated, and he did everything he could to help, but even I didn’t know what I needed so how could he? It would have been so easy to let all of the frustrations and anger boil up and create such big problems. Thankfully, we didn’t let that happen, and we managed to stay connected during pregnancy, despite not actually being able to physically connect.
Each pregnancy comes with its own challenges, emotions and experiences, but there are a few ways you can stay connected to your husband during pregnancy that will help you feel like you’re still in this together:
1 – Talk To Him About How You’re Feeling
I know, I know… feelings… urgh. But, despite our continued expectation that they are; men are not in fact mind readers. Shocking I know – that really needs to be in their upgrade requests. But seriously though, his go to is going to be ‘she’s just hormonal’ because that’s what he’s been told from everywhere, so make sure you let him know what you’re actually feeling.
Instead of him just assuming you’re cranky because you’re hormonal, explain to him you’re cranky because you have what feels like a bowling ball sitting in your pelvis and to make matters worse, it feels like your insides are going to fall out. I know I’m not the only one that felt like this! And because of this, you can’t sleep properly and you’re worried that (insert whatever your worry is right here).
Likewise, talk to him about how he is feeling. If he is a first-time dad this is all new and can be quite daunting. Ask him questions and get to know what he is feeling about everything.
2 – Involve Him In Appointments and Decision Making
Long gone are the days when the Dads would be at the pub while baby was born. While many men still joke about it, the truth is, I haven’t met a man yet who didn’t absolutely love seeing his little baby blob on the screen at the ultrasound appointment and hearing the little gallop of baby’s heartbeat.
Involve your husband in the decision-making process – while my husband did the whole ‘you’re the one growing and birthing this baby, you can have whatever you want’ I still asked him what his thoughts were on things and it was so good to have another opinion. Our brains work quite differently, I’m far more emotional, he is far more analytical – which makes us a great team for decision making.
There are so many ways to help dads get involved, from helping during pregnancy and labour (like being the Ultimate Daddy Doula), through to cutting the cord and skin to skin with Dad after birth too.
3 – Ask Him How He Feels About Situations and His Experience
Like we mentioned earlier, it’s important to acknowledge how your husband is feeling throughout your pregnancy too. If this is baby number 1, he might be absolutely terrified, heck if it’s baby number 2 or 3 he might be worried about how the family dynamic is going to change or how things are going to be different.
A great way to start getting your husband to open up about this is by asking him about his experiences as a kid. How many kids were there in his family and what did family life look like for him? What were the roles of his parents and how do they differ to the roles you two have created for yourselves?
Sometimes it takes guys a little longer to open up, but talking regularly about the pregnancy and baby and what life is going to look like, and opening up with how you feel will keep the conversation flowing and allow time and space for your husband to share how he is feeling too.
4 – Get Educated Together
While the thought of watching a birth video may have your husband running for the hills, there are so man ways to get educated about birth and baby life together. One of my most favourite quotes is that ‘we fear what we do not understand’ therefore to remove fear around birth and baby life, we need to understand it more.
As Paramedics, my husband and I are trained in birth emergencies, and we have a confirmation bias and experience that birth is fast, and complications are common. But, this is only because of what we had experienced and been taught as Paramedics. While this may be the case for a lot of the births we are called to, this is definitely NOT the case for all births. Think about it – we are only called to births that are happening faster than expected, or that have had a complication arise at home. We don’t get called to the beautiful, natural homebirth, or the calm but powerful hospital birth (or any hospital birth for that matter).
Because of this, we had a lot of fears around birth and a lot of questions – which meant we needed to get educated. We talked all things birth for months and not only did it bring us closer together, but it made us better Paramedics as well.
If hubs isn’t into reading books about birth, there are some great documentaries you can watch together that will absolutely blow your mind (in all the good ways).
5 – Take Time Out As Individuals
One of the big challenges, when you become a parent, is that it can feel like you’re no longer ‘you’. Or that you need to work out how this new role fits into your identity. When you’re pregnant, people tend to only ask questions about the pregnancy and baby, and this continues on after bub has arrived. It can feel like ‘you’ have taken a backseat and been replaced with ‘mother and baby’.
During your pregnancy, regardless of if it’s baby number 1 or number 6, it’s important for you to each take time out as individuals. Do whatever it is you love to do, plan a day for yourself or a day for your husband or just take a few hours here and there. It’s so important to spend some time alone to recharge.
Contrary to traditional belief, you don’t have to spend all of your social time with your husband and it’s good for him to take some time out too. And for the record, time at work does not count as time out. When we each have time alone to recharge and just do whatever it is we want to do, we feel better and actually connect better as a couple.
Likewise, try and get some time together too that is outside of your normal environment. A babymoon is a great way to connect with each other and spend some quality time together before babe arrives.
6 – Talk About Things Other Than The Pregnancy
Does it feel like all you ever talk about is pregnancy this or baby that? While it can be so exciting and you want to talk about this beautiful little life so much, it’s also important to spend some time talking about things other than the pregnancy.
Talk about the things you talked about before you were pregnant, take time to talk about what your husband wants to talk about and acknowledge that while the pregnancy is amazing and you’re so excited about your new little babe, there are other parts of your life and parts of you too.
7 – Celebrate Each Other
One of the best ways to stay connected with your husband during your pregnancy is to acknowledge and celebrate all of the amazing things he does and how much you love him. Sure, some days it feels like you’d love him that little more if he could just put the toilet seat down – but forget about that for a moment and celebrate that he puts socks on your feet before you get out of bed of a morning so your feet are nice and warm, or that he brings you peppermint tea at 2am because you all of a sudden wanted peppermint tea.
Again, this is a good time to acknowledge both the things you love about each other and are excited about as parents – talk about the things that you know will make him a good dad and let him tell you why you are the ultimate Mama for his babies. And also celebrate the ‘non-parenting’ things too. It can be difficult to juggle these two sides, but doing so will help you stay connected to each other and not feel like you’ve forgotten yourselves as a couple and are now only parents.
There’s no ‘right’ way to stay connected to your husband during pregnancy and different things will work for different couples depending on your relationship, the number of babies you already have and your experiences. But these ideas are a great starting point and can definitely help you to keep that connection alive and flourishing.