One of the biggest questions we get from the moms in our birth class is:
How can I involve my partner more during my pregnancy?
I love this question because it acknowledges that moms get the joy of seeing the baby get bigger, feeling all the baby kicks, and experiencing a lot of body changes.
Partners? They experience everything from the outside, and our society does a poor job of encouraging their involvement during pregnancy.
So, I want to provide you with 5 practical tips to get your partner hands-on and involved as you prepare for the arrival of your baby.
1. Prepare for prenatal appointments together
You probably make a list of questions before most of your prenatal appointments, right?
(And if you don't, then you should. I don't know about you, but the moment I step into a doctor's office, all the important questions I had fly right out of my brain.)
Make a list of questions with your partner.
Add any questions he has to the list. He may not have any questions, which is fine, or he may have 10 questions!
Add prenatal appointments to your shared calendar.
Plan for him to attend certain appointments
This blog is a great resource to know which prenatal appointments are good for him to attend (such as the Glucose Tolerance Test - you may feel pretty nauseous afterward, and it's recommended that you have someone drive you home).
When your partner attends the prenatal appointments, have him speak up! Make sure there's time for him to ask questions. During a few of my prenatal appointments, Ben would have more questions than me! My midwives loved it.
Partners: be confident about your place at the prenatal appointments. You have just as much of a right to be there! If you want to support mom during birth, prenatal appointments are a perfect time to be seen as an enthusiastic member of the birthing team.
2. Get books and resources specifically for partners
Our favorite pregnancy books for partners:
A Dude's Guide to Baby Size by Taylor Calmus
This is a fun, light read for dads who want general pregnancy information.
You're Going to Be a Dad! by Daddilife Books
This book is a great combo of information and reflections for fathers.
The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin
This is the Holy Grail of all birth partner books! This is a more dense read for the dad who wants to know all the details.
Get weekly pregnancy updates for couples
We can send you personalized weekly pregnancy and postpartum updates with information for both mom AND partner!
Sign up here (and have your partner sign up too, so you can both be on the same page).
Take a birth class for couples
The research is clear that having a trained birth partner can lower your risk of c-section and other interventions. Taking a birth class together is important, so be sure to take a class that is actually designed for couples.
We have a class that's literally called The Birth Class for Couples (we are THAT passionate about empowering couples to birth as a team). Our class is evidence-based, comprehensive and involves your partner all the way through. Check it out here.
3. Pick out baby gear WITH and FOR your partner
What is it about dudes and gear? They LOVE it.
(ok let's be honest, moms do too!) Here are some ways you can get your partner involved in building your registry.
Register for gear for your partner
Your partner needs gear! We include an entire section of gear your partner will need in our Baby Registry Checklist for Couples.
Pick out gear with your partner
I had a doula client whose husband went all in on choosing a stroller. He found this podcast that compared all the different models, listened to every episode, researched the topic thoroughly until he found the perfect one.
Don't underestimate your partner's ability and willingness to deep dive on gear. This can be a practical way for him to get really into prepping for your baby (and take something off your plate).
4. Create your birth plan together with specific details about how he will support you during labor
Most moms want to be supported during birth by their partner. Most partners want to support, but have no clue where to start.
Labor, just like parenting, should be a team effort.
A great place to start preparing for labor is to make your birth plan together. Talk through exactly what you want during labor (and what you don't want). Let him know how you want him to advocate for you. Write down specifically what you want to do to have him support you.
If you don't know where to start, we have a resource for you!
Our Birth and Postpartum Planner for Couples includes a birth plan for mom/baby and a separate birth plan for partners so you both know exactly what to do during birth.
It also includes a Postpartum Planner because in our experience, most couples are massively unprepared for postpartum. Save yourself stress and tears by planning for baby care, visitors, work leave, house chores before baby is here.
5. Don’t put pressure on him if he seems disconnected from your pregnancy
Our last tip is a perspective we've gained after working with thousands of pregnant couples, and some practical tips for your relationship.
Some partners just aren't as into pregnancy.
It makes sense! You are the one feeling all the baby kicks and body changes.
He is experiencing everything from the outside.
...until that special moment when BAM! Your baby comes earth side.
At that moment, everything changes. That's why you see so many dads teary-eyed after birth. It finally hits them: I'M A DAD!
Many moms worry that if their partner isn't engaged during pregnancy, that they will be distant as a father.
That's just not true from our experience! So don't put too much pressure on him. Try out some of the ideas we gave in this blog, but let him process at his own pace.
It could mean he's anxious.
Partners often feel pressure to be the strong one during your pregnancy. He doesn't want to show emotion or put any additional burden on your shoulders.
But inside? He's kinda freaked out. Maybe a little anxious about the birth. Wondering if he will be a good dad.
Try opening up a conversation about how he's feeling. Some dads have a hard time expressing how they feel, but you never know; he may be ready and relieved to be able to express his thoughts and feelings.
When opening up this topic, try this conversation starter:
(Acknowledge his effort): "Hey, I know that you love me and our baby so much. I'm so appreciative that you do ____."
(Present your observation neutrally): "I noticed that you've been a little distant lately."
(Open up the conversation): "I want you to know that if there's anything bothering you, if you feel anxious or kinda freaked out, you can always talk to me. I feel a little freaked out too, if I'm honest!"
Go from there! If he says there's nothing wrong, then drop it. You never know - he may come back a week later ready to talk.
Where to learn more
We hope this resource was helpful as you prepare to welcome your baby into your family!
If you want to learn more, sign up for our FREE Mini-Birth Class for Couples. In it we share our top 10 tips for birth and the first week of postpartum.