Pregnancy hormones are a nightmare for women. They make their bodies do strange things, and worst of all they seem to change their personalities completely. With baby brain (yes that memory loss exists according to millions of women), frayed tempers, morning sickness, and strange cravings, as well has having a human being growing inside and squishing up their organs, it is no wonder that dads-to-be find that their partner seems like a different person altogether.
Fortunately, there are things that you can do to minimise the damage that this trying time can inflict.
1. Morning sickness can last the whole pregnancy, but it is more common in the first three months for many pregnancies, and in the last three for some. To help your partner out during this time, there are a few handy things that you can do to alleviate her nausea, and your sanity:
- Get a pack of plain biscuits or crackers and place them on her bedside table. Get her to nibble on one before she gets out of bed in the morning. This little bit of sustenance will prevent the nausea from setting in as soon as she stands up.
- Clean the toilet every day for her. Not the nicest job in the world, but when someone is feeling violently ill it is amazing how much worse it can get when the toilet is dirty. Sure, she could do it herself, but often the cleaning products, and the motion of bending over the toilet to clean it will make the sickness even worse.
- Keep crystalised ginger in the house and get her to have a piece every time she is feeling ill. Ginger alleviates nausea naturally, so this will help her keep morning sickness under control.
2. Food cravings… truth or myth? A bit of both, to tell the truth. Food cravings do exist, but it can be easy for them to become an excuse to send you out for McDonalds every night at 3am. It is a tough job balancing this, so a good way to go is, if she wants healthy food that is good for her and baby, then just suck it up and get it for her. If she wants a big mac, three cheeseburgers and two chocolate sundaes… maybe push back a bit… if you can handle the tears that will probably ensue.
3. While cravings are more commonly heard about, food aversions exist, and can make meal times difficult. If your partner is the one who cooks, don’t ask for fish pie for dinner if it makes her sick. Likewise, if you are the household chef, take note of any foods she needs to avoid and save it for after your baby is born. Most food aversions go away a few months after the birth, although some may take a little longer.
4. Make sure you have your own zone. While your partner needs support, you can’t look after her if you aren’t looking after yourself. Make sure you have your own space, and time away from home and work to de-stress. You will need it now, because once baby is born, you’ll find it harder to have that time.
5. Make sure your partner also has her own space away from home, work, any other kids, and other commitments. Just as you need your space, so does she. Encourage her to go out with the girls, and make sure she gets in some relaxing time too.
6. Communicate. Yes, it can be hard talking to someone who snaps at everything you say, but talking about anything, from how you feel about the impending birth, to how hurt you were when she told you your masterpiece dinner tasted like cat’s arse will open the lines of communication and allow her to see that her pregnancy has a direct affect on you too.
7. Do everything you can to ensure she gets a good sleep. This can get tricky as baby grows. It gets increasingly difficult to get comfortable in bed in the last couple of months of pregnancy. You can help by getting her a pregnancy pillow (or a tri-pillow can do the trick) to lie on, and by offering up your back masseuse skills before bed. That might sound like a bit more work than you’d like, especially if you are tired yourself, but trust me when I say that if she sleeps well, you’ll sleep better too.
8. If you are first time parents, then anti-natal classes are well worth attending together. They are a great way to meet other parents to be, and don’t worry, most dads go too, so you won’t be the only male in a room full of hormonal women.
9. As you get into the last month or so of the pregnancy, start cooking up food that you can freeze down. Casseroles, curries, soups, stirfries… anything that is easy to prepare and heat up later will do. Once baby is born the last thing either of you will want to do is cook, so this can get you through the first month. That way it is as simple as pulling out some frozen meals for the week, defrost them in the fridge, then heat them up in the microwave (or on the stove if you are anti-easy).
10. Remember that this stage of your relationship only lasts nine months. Then you too will get to experience sleepless nights for the next few years and you can both be tired and grumpy together!