Ask the expert: How can I help keep my partner comfortable during pregnancy?
Q: My wife has just found out she’s pregnant with our first baby. How can I help keep her comfortable and calm during pregnancy?
A: Midwife Alexis Stickland, co-author with doula and massage therapist Beccy Hands of The Little Book of Self-Care for Mums-To-Be, says: “The discovery that there’s a new baby on the way is one of life’s truly magical experiences. That said, pregnancy can also be quite an emotional rollercoaster, especially for your wife, as she mentally adapts and physically changes.
“Remember in those early weeks, the tiredness can have a huge impact. The pregnancy hormones that protect and swiftly grow your little baby are responsible here. It’s hard for her to articulate how this feels but often between week six and 12 the tiredness will be deep and all-consuming for her in a way she can’t explain.
"Just know she’s not exaggerating, and she needs to listen to her body and rest where possible. She’ll hopefully find between weeks 12 and 28 she’ll reclaim some of her energy and feel less nauseous. However, often during the later stages of pregnancy, fatigue is likely to return again, and she may find she needs to once again listen to her body and be gentle with herself.
“So much of being there for her is listening and really hearing what she’s telling you. It may be a trip to the shops to buy her slightly bizarre food combinations, practising relaxing breathing techniques together, doing the laundry or emptying the dishwasher because the smell of doing those make her gag (yes this can absolutely happen) or it may be to let her have a little release cry on the sofa, with a lovely candle on, while you rub her feet and tell her how incredible she is.
“You might find it helpful to take some antenatal and/or hypnobirthing classes together, where you’ll meet other expectant parents who will be going through this huge life experience in real time with you two. Plus learn all about pregnancy and birth and how to truly support her by understanding how to encourage her birthing hormones, especially oxytocin (aptly nicknamed the love hormone) to thrive.
“Every pregnancy and every woman is different as to how pronounced pregnancy symptoms feel, but whatever she’s going through is real for her. Know you can’t always ‘fix’ it, but you can honour the incredible work and changes her mind and body are going through by offering a listening ear and heaps of TLC.”
:: The Little Book of Self-Care for Mums-To-Be by Alexis Stickland and Beccy Hands is published by Vermilion, £12.99