The prospect of a baby's arrival can create a fair amount of stress and anxiety in a father's life. We may worry about whether we'll be able to shoulder the added financial strain or find time for all the new responsibilities that come with fatherhood. There are so many things to be concerned about, and many of them may never have occurred to us before. But our trials, as real and significant as they may be, are relatively small in comparison to what our partners are going through. This is a time when they really need us. And there are many things, big and small, that we can do to make the whole childbearing experience less taxing and more enjoyable for them.
The first, and probably most difficult, step is to resolve any financial concerns that your new baby might pose. Your partner will need to be home for a while after delivering, so any income that she may have been earning will be lost for that period of time. And a child, of course, brings added expenses. Honestly consider whether your current means can be stretched to accommodate these new demands, or whether you should seek to augment your income by working more hours or taking on a second job. This may involve sacrifice, but the stress that you'll save in the long run by removing financial anxiety from the picture will make it well worth it.
Morning sickness, which usually occurs during the first three months of pregnancy, is one of the more unpleasant experiences that expectant mothers may go through. Fortunately, about half of them manage to avoid it. But if your partner suffers bouts of morning sickness then she may have heartburn or an upset stomach, ache in various places, and feel revolted by food and cooking smells that normally never bothered her at all. You can help her by taking over some of the food shopping and cooking chores. Greasy or spicy meals may upset her stomach. It's safer to stick to plain foods like yogurt or rice. Your partner may also fare better if she eats smaller meals at more frequent intervals throughout the day. Encourage her to drink a lot of water so that she doesn't get dehydrated.
It's more than likely that your partner may be on an emotional roller coaster for much of her pregnancy. There are many reasons for this, but the hormonal changes occurring in her body and the physical demands involved in nurturing her unborn baby are the two most significant factors. You may find yourself on the receiving end of a lot of emotional reactivity. The best thing to do is swallow your pride, and try not to take it personally. Oftentimes it really isn't about you. During pregnancy, women are often particularly sensitive about their changing bodies and the weight that they're putting on. Being unable to fit into familiar clothes can be a painful and even humiliating experience. Other unpleasant things that your partner may experience can include cramps, back pain, tender and sore breasts (and especially sensitive nipples), constipation, and various aches all over.
This is a good time to treat her with kindness, then. Compliments might be particularly welcome to a woman who's struggling with her altered self-image. You can also physically nurture her in various ways. Rub her feet. Massage her head. Cuddle her. You can't take on the burden that she's carrying, but you can find ways to show her - again and again - that you care for her and will stand by her through this challenging time.