It's no secret it takes two to tango, however, once conception arrives, the focus remains heavily on the person carrying the child. Ensuring your partner stays connected with you and your baby will bring about a whole lot of love, joy, and support for both of you throughout this experience and beyond.
Some say that the way you go about your pregnancy and birth are the building blocks for how your journey through parenthood will unravel. Even if these two things do not correlate, I am sure your decision to conceive or start a family, originated from a place of love and ongoing commitment with your partner. Therefore, it is imperative to continue that commitment to your relationship, your connection, and strengthening your bond throughout these times. Whether or not your partner goes through their own roller-coaster of pregnancy hormones and emotions, to deny them the enjoyment of being a part of this experience in such a practical way would do them a great disservice.
I want to map out a few different ways you can encourage your partner to be more involved and support them in their own journey of becoming a parent, alongside keeping intimacy, love, and connection a priority throughout this time.
With our advanced technological age, and many different ways of creating a family, I want to make a quick note that many of these ideas can be adapted to suit your conception process, sexual orientation, and relationship, as well as if you go down the journey of adoption. Creating a family is not a conventional process, and feelings of conflict, disconnect or challenges can be found through any way a family may be created.
Telling them the big news?
If you have found out the news of conceiving prior to your partner, making a big show telling them!
I am sure you have seen the hundreds of videos and photos over social media of surprising a partner with the big news. Find one you like or create your own based on what you think they will enjoy most! A mini treasure hunt, a cute onesie that says ‘hi dad’ or ‘hi mum’, a mini skateboard that says ‘I can’t wait to roll with you', or just a beautiful dinner with the gift-wrapped pregnancy confirmation.
If you can get away with it, set up a camera and record their reaction. Absolutely PRICELESS! Here is one of my all time favourites! - TELLING MY HUSBAND WE'RE PREGNANT // He had NO idea! + telling my TWIN SISTER!! - YouTube
When you’re organizing the blood tests with the doctor, booking in the ultrasounds, or organizing any other meetings with care providers, make sure you invite them along or make it a time you know they can make it so they have the choice to be there every step of the way.
With the current global pandemic, this can be easier said than done. If you’re unable to have your partner in the room with you, keep facetime on, encourage the midwife or doctor to talk to them on the phone, and include them in the session. Allow them to go in separately to ask their own questions should they have any.
Whether you decide on independent childbirth education (Hypnobirthing, She Births, Calmbirth etc), or going through the hospital childbirth education, it is a great opportunity for your partner to be more involved, informed, and prepared for the birth. I actually believe it is non-negotiable to have them there. What you learn throughout these classes is not just for you to implement exercises and mechanisms for pregnancy and birth. It also teaches your partner what their role is throughout the birth, and being your support person, your safety net, their role is one of great importance. Feeling confident in their knowledge of birth and how to set the space for you will truly make your partner feel useful, important, and a huge part of the birth (which they are!!). This will support the notion that you are a team, doing this together, and that you are safe and secure each step of the way through your partner.
When preparing your birth plan, choosing your midwife or doula, packing your hospital bag, or deciding what and where to birth, genuinely ask your partner for their input and to actively be there. They will need to feel comfortable with your support group and confident in the environment you choose to birth in. Even though they may say that it doesn’t matter to them because they’re not the one birthing a human, it will secretly, and maybe subconsciously, make them feel more included and connected to you and the birth! Even if you have your heart set on an environment and care for your pregnancy and birth, including them won’t go unnoticed.
Just because you are pregnant, you are about to grow your family and every conversation is full of baby talk, it is still vital to spend time nourishing your relationship and bond with your partner. As they are not on the same ride as you, they will feel the drift of attention and focus from the relationship more severely than you will.
Making sure you set aside time to zero in on them, their day, your love for them or doing something nice for them will go a long way in strengthening your bond before such a challenging, yet fulfilling, time. Some ways to do this is regular date nights, having regular walks or exercise time together, making them a nice dinner or Sunday breakfast, taking them out for a fun night bowling or to the movies, or it may just be sitting down next to them, dimming the lights, putting some good music on and just talking to them, about them. Put value on keeping the intimacy alive, however that works for the both of you!
Practicing breathing techniques, meditation, eye contact or soft touch is another great way to stay focused on your relationship, and truly using the process of pregnancy and birth to go deeper and experience more love. Many birth preparations will include breathing techniques, massage, and soft touch. While you practice these for the birth, pay close attention to the person doing it with you. The spark can always be found, it is up to you whether you ignite it or ignore it.
Bets are, most conversations involve how you are feeling and how little babe is doing (and that’s fair enough!), however bringing the focus back to them, and the relationship would offer a world of support, satisfaction, and enjoyment for you both.
This is particularly important in the world of IVF or adoption. These processes and experiences can cause tension, uncertainty, and increased levels of stress. It is easy for us to turn to someone else to release all of this. Remember that you and your partner are in this together, and being on the same team will only benefit you both and the journey you're going through.
Throughout the birth
If your partner has managed to make it to a few childbirth education classes, and your wishes for the birth are spoken about, they will feel much more comfortable and confident in the birthing space. Don’t be afraid to ask them what you need, they will enjoy being needed. Whether it's to rub your back, apply counter-pressure, feed you water and snacks, or just to stand back, speak encouraging words and take a photo here and there (if you do not want to be touched).
It gives them something to do, a way to feel and be useful. Get them to set up the room before you enter, fill up the pool, ensure there is a postnatal feed ready! The list is endless. Feel into what you need, what you want from them in this time. Bets are they will love having something to do that is helping you.
Pregnancy and growing a family are bound to change your relationship with your partner. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing. There will be challenges ahead and based on how you both navigate your way through them will set up the foundation for your relationship postnatal. Embrace the shift in the relationship, remember that you are both on your own journey as well as the one you are on together. Be kind, and patient.
A quick note on conscious connecting through pregnancy
Becoming parents, whether for the first time or the third, can always be a huge shift in your relationship dynamic. If you have looked through my website, socials, or blog posts, you’ll notice I am a strong advocate on finding any and all ways to strengthen bonds and connections throughout life. Pregnancy is another avenue for this. Parenting is a responsibility, one that comes with many highs, and many challenges. When you enter this responsibility with another being, it can be much more enjoyable to be attuned to them, their history, their childhood, and any fears or traumas they may hold surrounding the experience.
Throughout my doula services, we work a lot on learning your own history from conception to where you are today, what has brought you here, possible traumas or pain stored in the body, and ways to acknowledge them, see them and move on to living a life NOT based on them.
Whether through me, your own research, or another holistic modality, take the time to do this with your partner, for your partner, and for yourself. Especially if this is your first child together. When you work through past and current blocks, you no longer live a life reacting to these traumas and instead create space for the new. For an expanse of love, joy, depth, and exquisite pleasure throughout this and many future experiences.