You found out she's pregnant, now are you ready for the next nine months? This guide to pregnancy for moms- and dads-to-be can help you prepare, including what you can expect and how to help your partner.
Whether you discovered it along with your partner or she told you the news, your reaction was probably along the lines of "OMG, we're having a baby!" And you probably are feeling, well, all the feels: thrilled beyond your wildest expectations, enormous pride and maybe a little freaked out, too.
It’s okay. Becoming a parent is an act of love and hope, and the two of you are on this ride together. Just be sure to share your joy with her. She’s no doubt feeling the same mix of emotions. After all, you made this magical moment together.
So, what to expect when your partner is pregnant? Read on for the most helpful ways to show her some love and support.
What to do when you first find out you’re going to be a parent
What's first on the agenda after learning the news? Here's where to start:
Celebrate — her way
Keep in mind that even though your partner doesn’t look pregnant yet, she may be feeling it. If she’s tired or sick, or just not up for going out, cancel your plans and stay in.
Also prep for the unexpected: Your favorite takeout place may be out of bounds when one whiff of your usual order sends your pregnant partner rushing to the bathroom.
Strengthen your bonds
Get a little sappy, sentimental and nostalgic — or a lot. Tell her what made you fall in love with her back then and what you love most about her now. Swap stories about your first date, your first kiss, your first "I love you."
Talk about what makes you a strong couple (and how becoming parents will make you even stronger). In the coming months, your relationship will undergo unique challenges. It’s wise to expend a little energy reinforcing the foundation now.
Figure out how you’ll start spreading the news
Maybe you’re so anxious to spill the beans that you’re about to burst, but you and your partner will need to decide how — and when — to tell loved ones your happy news. Maybe close friends and family get a phone call, other relatives get texts and everyone else checks it out when you update your social media pages.
Some couples wait until after the first trimester to share pregnancy news, while others share right away. Whatever you choose, it's a deeply personal decision that you two should make together.
Brush up on your benefits
Schedule an appointment with someone in HR to make sure you understand your company’s policies on parental leave and time off — and whether it’s paid or not. Remind your partner to check her workplace’s maternity leave policies, too.
You'll also want to familiarize yourself with your insurance coverage, and take some proactive financial steps (like calculating your baby budget and building up your savings) if two of you haven't already.
How to support your partner during her pregnancy
Of course, you’re already supportive. But pregnancy — especially for first-time mamas and their partners — can bring a host of surprises.
There’s her ever-changing body, for one, as well as those roller-coaster emotions, cravings and aversions. There’s pregnancy brain fog and endless trips to the bathroom. In short, it’s hard to know what to expect when your partner is pregnant. But here’s how to help her get through the next nine months.
Shoulder more than your share
Your pregnant partner expends a lot of extra energy now that she’s building a baby, which makes her a lot more tired than you’ve ever known her to be.
Now’s the time to go the extra mile in helping out around the house. Pick up the tasks she may have done before (especially physically challenging ones, like vacuuming) and start doing them yourself.
Lend an ear
Some moms-to-be experience self-doubt or anxiety during pregnancy. She may be stressing that she won’t be a good mom or that your relationship will change. How to comfort her? Listen without being judgy or telling her to chill. And if you have similar concerns, be honest about your feelings, too.
But here’s some heartening news you both no doubt will find reassuring: All these worries are completely normal. And the very fact that you’re already losing sleep over them means you're on the right track.
Another plus? Getting in the habit of talking things out and really listening to each other will serve you well when the baby comes and the combination of sleep deprivation and zero time can exacerbate misunderstandings.
Get involved in the medical stuff, but ask how involved she wants you to be
Does she want you to be at every prenatal visit? If so, do your best to go, but be honest about any schedule limitations you might have. If you can’t get away for each appointment, show interest and concern by asking questions. ("So, did the doctor give you any advice on how to keep those prenatal vitamins down?") Do your best to be at the milestone appointments (when the heartbeat will be heard, for the ultrasounds, and for screening tests).
Ride the wave
You have to keep your sense of humor when you’re going to be a parent. You’ll just be getting on the highway when she announces she really needs to pee — even though she went twice before you drove off. Or she’ll want you to go out for some pistachio ice cream just as you’ve settled down to rest after mopping the kitchen floor.
Practice the art of compromise — obviously yes to the rest stop (she needs to go more often than pre-pregnancy, and you can’t risk her getting a UTI) and an IOU for the ice cream and a counter-offer to swap it for a smoothie right now.
You’ll be building up these skills when you’re confronted with similar scenarios as a parent. Plus, you’ll have funny memories to laugh over and regale your child(ren) with later.
Help her fit in her steps
Your partner is probably finding it tough to fit in fitness when she’s so worn out all the time. So become her workout buddy: Step out for a brisk walk or hike on the weekends or a stroll around the neighborhood in the evenings after dinner.
Make it easier for her to fall asleep
Get her a body pillow (or show her some she might like) so she can get comfy. Turn on a fan when she gets too hot. Cuddle before nodding off.
Even if hitting the stores or perusing baby gear online isn't your jam, you'll want to weigh in on important items like nursery furniture, car seats and strollers. You’re on a team, and the whole team (both of you) needs to know about the gear.
After all, you'll both use it once your baby arrives — a lot — and it helps to have two people checking items (including the small stuff) off the list.
Make some future plans (but stay flexible)
There’s a lot to discuss about your baby’s future. You may not have to talk about college just yet, but you should set aside some time to research health insurance for your baby. If both you and your partner have health insurance, you’ll want to choose the plan that provides the best coverage for the price and whose network has the pediatrician you want to use.
You don't have to make a final decision yet, but do some legwork now so you don't get caught short later. (Make a point of looking into your employer's pre-tax child care program, too; it could save you a bundle.) Just remember that plans can change, so discuss the contingencies, too.
Shower her with compliments
Even though you think she’s got that pregnancy glow, your partner may not be feeling like her usual self. Tell her she’s beautiful, that her hair never looked this good and anything else that occurs to you. Don’t hold back the praise or the love.
Rub her back before she goes to sleep. Give her massages. When it comes to sex, suggest exploring new positions that are both comfortable and exciting.
Worried about "hitting" the baby, or the baby "seeing" what's going on? Don’t be. He's well secured in his uterine home, impervious to harm, completely unable to view the proceedings and perfectly oblivious to what’s going on when you're getting it on. As far as hurting her — always ask what feels good and what doesn't.
From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You're Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.