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“There are two sides to being pregnant. There is a beautiful, wonderful blessing side. The second side – it sucks!”
~ Tamar Braxton
Congratulations, you have a baby on the way!
Now, your primary task, as a soon-to-be father, is to be your pregnant wife’s rock – her support system, her ride-or-die. Why? Because she needs you to be. You always have your wife’s back but this is both a joyful and highly stressful time for her, so she needs an extra dose of this from you.
All the feelings
She’s tired, achy, moody, and just plain uncomfortable whether she’s at the beginning of her pregnancy or towards the end.
And, because pregnancy often comes with noticeable weight gain, she may also feel bloated and “unattractive.” People may remark that your wife has that “pregnancy glow” but she may not feel that way, so you must be cognizant of that possibility.
It’s also important that you understand that your wife may be ecstatic about your impending arrival and still feel like crap – mentally, emotionally, physically, and sexually. So, she’s going to need your support – mentally, emotionally, physically, and sexually.
Don’t be that guy
Don’t be that guy – you know…the one whose pregnant wife has to beg him for support. Seriously. Don’t be that guy because it will most likely lead to a boatload of tears for both of you. Be better than that because pregnancy is hard, almost always for women but also often for their partners. Thus, it requires participation from both parties. Hey, it took two people to make the baby, right?
This may sound overwhelming, but it’s really not. Supporting your wife during pregnancy is actually quite easy.
What you need to do…
All you need to do is be there for your wife, offering love, support, and understanding. You may also need to be her “meal-prepper” or “food-getter,” “back and feet rubber,” and “shoulder to cry on” because they’ll probably be lots of tears (Hello pregnancy hormones). But being there to comfort and support your wife, even from the sidelines, can and will make a world of difference in the “pregnancy experience” for you and your wife.
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Your wife is pregnant which means you’re about to be a father, maybe for the first time. You’re still young but you’re ready to embrace this new chapter of your life. You wait for the 12-week grace period before sharing the joyous news with the world. But, when you share, everyone cautions you that your life as you know it is about to change. Once your baby arrives, life will center on your child indefinitely. But, you don’t care you’re just super excited.
But, what about your pregnant wife? How does she feel? Is she as happy as you are about the impending arrival? Well, that is a complicated question for many pregnant women.
The less glamorous side of pregnancy
A child is always a gift and most women dream about starting a family. However, pregnancy can come with a host of unpleasant “side-effects” like unrelenting nausea and vomiting (morning sickness), continuous aches and pains, and fluctuating mood swings (i.e. laughing one minute and crying the next).
As new pregnancy hormones curse through your wife’s veins and her body begins to change at a rapid pace, she’s bound to have “ups and downs.” That’s why she needs you more than ever right now. She needs you to tell her everything is going to be okay.
She needs you to rub her swollen feet and aching back. She needs you to accommodate her strange and constant food cravings or keep “smelly” foods out of her presence. She needs you to hold her hair back as she vomits in the toilet and to place cold rags on her forehead to combat endless nausea.
She needs you to remind her that she is still beautiful, sexy, and desirable even with the baby weight, bald patches (Yes, that happens to some women!), and/or pregnancy acne. She needs you to remind her that her fears are irrational and that the baby is going to be just fine. She also needs you to pick up household tasks and, if you already have kids, look after them.
It’s work for both of you
You work – I get it. But, your wife is working too, both at her job inside and/or outside of the home and growing your child – day and night.
The truth is your wife is probably extremely exhausted and this is only going to worsen as the pregnancy progresses. She needs so much from you right now; you must step up and provide for her. It takes a lot to grow a human. She needs your reassurance; in other words, your pregnant wife needs your support 24/7.
Pregnancy can be scary for women, regardless of if it is their first or fifth pregnancy. Every pregnancy is unique so there is always something new. While this is an exciting time for you, as the father-to-be, for many women, it’s more complicated than that.
Don’t get me wrong, your wife may be extremely happy about the baby but she’s also a little (or a lot) distressed. Women go through a lot during pregnancy, and most of it is hidden from their spouses. The best thing you can do for her is just be there. Be present and available. Be there for all the things she needs. If you do these things for her, I guarantee it will be the best time of your lives.
Research what happens to women when they are pregnant. What do they go through mentally, emotionally, physically, and sexually? What happens during the various trimesters, and what is happening with your baby during these stages? Also, research how you can make the pregnancy easier and more enjoyable for your wife.
The good news is the web offers a plethora of information on pregnancy and how men can provide support for their pregnant partners. You can also purchase books on pregnancy like “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” to help you better understand what your pregnant wife is experiencing during the various trimesters.
Mentally supporting your wife during pregnancy
What does this look like? Mental support during pregnancy means reminding your pregnant wife how beautiful, sexy, fun, strong, and capable she is. This is important because she may not feel that way about herself right now. It is your job to remind her of that. She needs to know that she can do this – that you both can.
Pregnancy hormones can scramble the brain and distort thinking thus your wife may need to hear these things many times throughout her pregnancy. She may also need you to remind her that your relationship is strong and that she will be a great mother.
Don’t forget to praise and compliment her regularly because she needs that right now too. Tell her how amazing it is to witness her growing and changing body and how beautiful her “pregnancy glow” is.
Lastly, reassure her that you can handle the bills, household tasks, and children. Remember, the goal is to help your wife enjoy the pregnancy – not worry about how you’re going to make ends meet.
Emotionally supporting your wife during pregnancy
What does this look like? Offering your pregnant wife emotional support means being there for her and giving her a shoulder to lean and cry on when she needs to. It also means comforting her when she’s distressed and being empathetic when she has 25 mood swings within 30-minutes.
Emotional support may also entail giving your pregnant wife lots of hugs, kisses, and cuddles (even if you aren’t a natural-born “cuddler”). You can be emotionally supportive of your wife by listening to her vent when she’s frustrated and being there when she needs you to rub her back and feet because they are achy.
The truth is your wife is probably feeling extremely vulnerable right now. Everything is changing; she needs you to remind her that she’s a badass and you love her. She also needs to know you find her attractive and sexy because that can make all the difference for her moods and emotional state.
Physically supporting your wife during pregnancy
What does this look like? Physically supporting your wife means picking up the slack – at home, with the kids, and even with bills. It may mean putting clothes in the wash, caring for the kids, preparing meals, washing dishes, and/or cleaning the house while your pregnant wife is stuck in bed.
It could also refer to getting a 2nd job to replenish any lost income. In other words, this type of support involves doing the “heavy lifting” for your wife in all areas of her life. The only thing your wife should be focused on during this time is “growing the baby.”
If sex is too uncomfortable for your very pregnant wife, focus your attention on foreplay. Sex is beneficial because your wife’s nether regions are filled with blood and she’s feeling the physical pressure of it. Sex or sexual activities can relieve the pressure in the area which can make her more comfortable.
Ree has a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy (M.M.F.T.) and a Ph.D. in Family Psychology. She spent over ten years counseling families, couples, individuals, and children on adjustment issues such as blended families, same-sex couples, dysfunctional family relationships, relationship issues, etc. Now she writes for famous health organizations and is a published author. Full Bio | LinkedIn