www.Medicine.net defines pregnancy as: The state of carrying a developing embryo or fetus within the female body.
As accurate as this definition is, I find it extremely limiting. The experience of pregnancy is something to be shared and experienced with so much more than the internal workings of a female body. The creation of life required the participation and commitment of a set of partners. This connection shouldn’t end here. Although the female body is primarily responsible for the care and well-being of the “developing embryo or fetus”, the development of the child is in the hands of an entire community. This sense of community is often very obvious in the US. Baby showers, mommy-and-me groups, pre-natal yoga classes, Lamaze classes, hand-me-downs, Internet forums… we are often surrounded by supportive mothers and moms-to-be. What often gets lost is the connection with our first partner. Daddy.
Now that your man is “Daddy”, things may change. It is not just the two of you anymore. This feeling occurs as soon as you hold that positive pregnancy test in your hands. We have a choice. We can fear this change and withdraw into our female body and connect solely with the developing embryo or fetus within. Or, we can embrace the change from “two” to “three”, finding ways to intentionally connect with our partner on an even deeper level than we ever imagined.
7 ways to connect with your partner during pregnancy
Open the lines of communication. Let go of the fears of not being understood or related to. Discuss how you feel about your changing body, your hormonal roller coaster, and your expectations of your pregnancy. Be direct with what you need. Every woman and every pregnancy is different. However, allow your partner the opportunity to validate these needs. The more opportunities you provide for him to empathize and relate, the closer you will feel to one another. I remember days just asking for more hugs. Other days, I really need him to step up and help me accomplish a physical task or prepare a meal. It doesn’t matter how small or big your request is. What matters is talking about it.
The communication road goes both ways. Encourage your partner to open up about how he is feeling. Really listen and try not to be defensive. Validate him, just as you are seeking validation. He is under a lot of stress and anticipation as well. Support one another. My favorite conversation topics? Talk about the future. Your dreams. Your hopes for your baby. Set goals and make plans. As a family.
2. Date each other
Don’t let the dating come to a halt. The first few months are difficult and you may not be feeling up for a night out. So, make it a night in! Or even go for a walk or out for a tea, just the two of you. The most important thing is to plan it. Set at least one night a week that is a designated “date night”. Do your best to commit to this time without letting work or other plans get in the way. Prioritizing your relationship now, will help you to create habits of maintaining this priority once baby arrives.
*Tips: Get dressed up! Make new memories by going to a new restaurant. Forgo the theater and see a drive-in movie instead. Take a walk in a new part of town. Check out Groupon deals for new date ideas.
3. Go to bed at the same time
Pregnancy can often throw off your sleeping schedule. In order to stay connected to your partner, try aligning your sleeping habits. Go to bed at the same time as your partner. That time at the end of the night will end up to be the most cherished time. Belly massages, pillow talk, love-making… it is time for the two of you to be alone with one another. Throw away your to-do lists for the day. Take advantage of the stillness.
4. Prepare a meal together
One of our favorite nights of the week is pizza night! There is something so normal about cooking. Set aside your worries and stresses of pregnancy and parenting and just be together in the kitchen. The kitchen is often close quarters so take advantage of the opportunity to brush hands as you reach for the cutting board, or hug one another as you squeeze by the refrigerator.
5. Make decisions together
Include one another in the process. Register together. My favorite registry is Babylist- www.babyli.st. You can register for anything, from any store! Send the link to your partner at work, or cuddle up on the couch together and add items from each of your favorite stores. It is a great way to customize your registery to your family’s preferences.
Sure, there will be decisions that you definitely want to make together such as the baby’s name or who you will choose to be the Godparents. In other decision-making matters, let go a little. Let your partner make a few decisions of his own (even if you aren’t the biggest fan). If he is genuinely excited about a specific toy or outfit, or even the paint color for the nursery… treasure his involvement. The orange walls may end up being an endearing reminder of his excitement for the once, highly anticipated arrival of your baby.
6. Love one another
Every individual loves and receives love in different ways. Tune in to what your partner needs during this time. Even the healthiest of pregnancies can be incredibly emotional and stressful.
Hormones are raging (not to mention shifting every three and half minutes)… family and financial pressures are in full-force… there are endless appointments and trips to the doctors… you become obsessed with reading all the blogs and internet articles about the risks to which you are subjecting your unborn baby…. but despite all of this, you are in the middle of the happiest, most beautiful time of your life.
Love your partner through the difficult times and you will find it that much easier to remain connected and fall even deeper in love during the most amazing moments throughout your pregnancy. This might mean an increased amount of physical touch, or it may mean words of affirmation. A great way to become educated about exactly how to love one another through this time is to learn about one another’s Love Languages. You can take a free online quiz at: http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/couples/ to learn more about the Five Love Languages and how to effectively communicate with, and love your partner.
7. Choose each other
Although pregnancy does occur solely in the female body, you and your partner have entered into a sort of lifelong contract together. No matter what happens, you are now connected. Choose each other. Prioritize each other. Support each other. The wonderful journeys of pregnancy and raising your child will be a lot easier hand-in-hand.