Explaining Pregnancy Symptoms to your Partner

Explaining Pregnancy Symptoms to your PartnerMoms-to-be often feel lonely during pregnancy.  Their once partner in everything can no longer share the same experience – carrying a child is left only to mothers.  That’s not to say men don’t have feelings and changes don’t occur in their lives during pregnancy.  However, their bodies are not biologically changing in the way that expectant moms are.  Explaining pregnancy symptoms to your partner may be a daunting task but its important to bring your partner into the inner circle of your pregnancy experience.  He may know it all too well already as the recipient of some hormonal behavior, but nonetheless, discussing pregnancy symptoms should be a healthy part of sharing this new adventure in your lives.

But how do you go about explaining pregnancy symptoms to your partner?  Break it down symptom-by-symptom and come up with relatable analogies.  Here are a few to get you started:

Pregnancy Nausea:  Although it is called “morning sickness,” pregnancy nausea can strike at any time of day and may not result in vomiting.  Nausea includes a range of feelings from an upset stomach to heartburn.  Many women compare pregnancy nausea to feeling hung-over or having a stomach bug.  Nausea can cause lethargy, change in appetite and a foul mood.  Not allowing the body to get hungry often helps new moms curb their nausea so partners can help by offering food and drink periodically.

Fatigue:  Especially during the first trimester, expectant moms tend to be extremely exhausted.  Her body is changing in many ways to prepare for pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.  Simple tasks like making meals and grocery shopping can wear her out as if she just did strenuous exercise.  New moms and their partners should try to keep things simple to let her rest as much as possible.  Partners can offer to take on some of mom’s responsibilities until she has more energy.

Growing Breasts:  Sensitive breasts are often the first symptom of pregnancy a woman experiences.  With the onset of many extra hormones, breasts enlarge to prepare for pregnancy and eventually breastfeeding.  Breasts are tender and often sensitive to the touch as if they were bruised or sore.  Usually breast size increases in the first trimester, slows in the second trimester and may grow a little more towards the end of the third trimester.  Pregnancy is a great time to buy nursing bras.  Partners can surprise the new mom in their lives with a selection of comfortable and stylish nursing bras in her new size.

Gaining Weight:  Gaining the normal 25-35 lbs. during pregnancy can be scary for women.  In a weight conscious world, packing on this many pounds in just 9 months may not make her feel good about herself and she may fear she is unattractive to her partner.  Typically the baby is 6.5 to 7.5 lbs, water weight is around 3.5 lbs, extra blood is 3 lbs, the placenta is 1.5 lbs and breasts are around 1 lb each.  The rest of the pregnancy weight gain is a woman’s body storing fat and energy for pregnancy and beyond.  Partners should help moms-to-be eat healthy meals but also remind her that she’s always beautiful.

Baby’s Movements:  Around the 15th week of pregnancy, expectant moms begin to feel their baby’s movement.  It begins as a flutter and will progress to more distinctive punching, kicking and flipping movements.  Some moms may feel their baby’s hiccups as well.  All of this may feel like a circus inside her belly.  When the movements are larger, moms can share the experience with their partners by letting them feel the movement on her belly.  As the baby gets bigger you can often see ripples across the abdomen as well.

Contractions:  This one is the doozie that may be most difficult to explain to your partner.  Luckily, contractions are short-lived and the light at the end of the tunnel is your precious baby.  Contractions are more closely related to cramping, like stomach cramps, gas pains or a severe muscle spasm.  Unfortunately, it may take hours for relief to come as the baby may not be ready to make an appearance.  Partners can help during contractions by being supportive, keeping moms calm, performing breathing exercises with her and distracting her.  Once early labor signs begin, partners should jump in and be ready to take on all responsibilities, including childcare for other children, calling the OB and getting mom to the hospital.

Partners may not be able to empathize with pregnancy symptoms but they can certain sympathize and support you along the way if you keep an open dialogue about how you are feeling.  They may not know the exact right things to say or do, but with love and support, you can work through the journey together.