Pregnancy: a partner’s perspective
What can you expect when your partner is expecting? We get some expert advice – plus firsthand insights – on how to prepare for the many different emotions you’ll both face.
For some parents-to-be, 2 lines appearing on a home pregnancy test spark feelings of euphoria and giddy excitement, while others react with panic and anxiousness.
Parenting expert Dr Justin Coulson says it’s important that the expecting couple understand and embrace that they’re going through this journey together and both have important roles to play.
We speak to 2 partners about their transition into parenthood.
Bronwyn Robinson and her wife Tracey have lived the pregnancy experience from both perspectives. Tracey carried their first child and 3 years later, she took on the partnering role during Bronwyn’s pregnancy.
“I think this gave us a really unique understanding of what we each went through, both as partners as well as the one carrying the baby,” says Robinson.
She says that experiencing both roles also allowed them to be more empathetic with each other, especially during challenging times.
“We were a bit unsure about things when Tracey was pregnant and sometimes it was really tough,” she says. “But afterwards, when I was pregnant, we’d look at each other and know exactly what each other was feeling.”
Robinson says that this was important, as it helped them talk openly and honestly about what they were going through and that brought them closer together as a family.
Taking care of the family
While a first pregnancy can be daunting, second time dad-to-be Adam Newman says that partnering his wife Michelle through another pregnancy has had its own challenges.
“On one hand, you’ve been through it before and you generally know what to expect. But now you’ve got to ramp up the care of your first child,” he says.
The second-time around with a toddler in tow can be exhausting, so things like taking your first child out to give mum an afternoon sleep can make a huge difference.
Newman believes a good pregnancy partner takes on the ultimate support role, coach and cheer squad. “It’s undoubtedly a busy and hectic time but you do anything and everything that is required,” he says. “Always keep a smile on your face and never let your wife forget she’s beautiful.”
“Partners might feel it’s a bit taxing, but ultimately we get the easy bit.”
When partners are doing it tough
It’s not always easy for partners, though. You may be experiencing a range of emotions including concern for the mum, stress about finances or worry about the impact of the baby on your relationship and lifestyle.
Research by beyondblue shows that about 5% of new fathers experience depression in the year after having a baby, for a range of reasons.
Dr Coulson advises that both expectant parents adopt a range of strategies to help with the increased financial, psychological, physical and emotional pressures that come with pregnancy. “Most importantly, make sure your relationship is good and your communication is strong,” he says.
You may be putting pressure on yourself to be strong all the time or for your family to have it all together, but it may be time to adjust your expectations.
“Don’t expect a magazine-perfect or Instagram-worthy pregnancy. Be realistic and don’t assume everything will be perfect,” he says.
“If challenges do arise – and they’re bound to – frame them in a much bigger, long-term picture.”
Changing the language used around pregnancy can also reflect the fact that bringing a new life into the world is a supported and shared journey.
“Using inclusive language like ‘we’ or ‘us’ helps let partners and future mothers develop a strong sense that the pregnancy is a collaboration made stronger through team work,” says Dr Coulson.
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