Supporting your partner through pregnancy is a very important job. Pregnancy and childbirth can be exhausting both physically and emotionally. Helping your partner can benefit:
- your relationship
- your baby
For some partners, finding out you’re going to be a parent can be a wonderful experience — but for others it’s an emotional and confusing time. You may feel scared. This is normal.
Some people may decide not to announce their pregnancy until the end of the first trimester however it's completely your choice. You and your partner can use the time to get used to the idea of being parents and think about how you will manage the changes a new baby will bring.
It's a good idea to be as involved as you can throughout the pregnancy. Here are some things that you can do:
- Offer to go with your partner to doctors or midwife appointments.
- Look at baby equipment together.
- Talk about how you are both feeling, as pregnancy can be an emotional time.
- Do your own research and share what you learn with you partner.
Your partner may have mood swings during pregnancy. Try not to take this personally.
If your partner is very anxious or seems depressed about the pregnancy, encourage them to ask for help.
If your partner has morning sickness, help them eat small amounts often.
Contact the doctor if you are worried about frequent vomiting.
It’s fine to have sex during pregnancy, if:
- both you and your partner want to
- your midwife or doctor haven’t said not to have sex
It might feel different, but it won't harm your baby.
If your partner is bleeding or there are other problems - such as a placenta close to the cervix, you might be advised not to have sex. You can support her by being understanding, and finding other ways to be intimate, such as kissing, cuddling and massage.
The second trimester
As your partner moves into the second trimester the morning sickness may ease. The pregnancy will also become more obvious.
The second trimester is a good time to start thinking seriously about things like your:
- life insurance
It is important to communicate openly and honestly with your partner, even if some topics are difficult. This will help build the positive relationship you will need as parents.
You can support your partner at this time by helping her to have a healthy pregnancy. This can include:
- eating healthy food together
- doing physical activity
- cutting back on alcohol yourself
- not smoking, especially if your partner is trying to quit
Later in the pregnancy
The third trimester is often when pregnancy gets real for partners. Here are some things you can do to help:
- Go with your partner for check-ups. These are more frequent towards the end of pregnancy.
- listen to your baby's heartbeat
- learn what's going to happen during the birth
- Attend antenatal classes together.
- Do a tour of the place where your baby will be born.
- Organise time off work for the time of the birth and afterwards
- Talk or sing to your baby.
- your baby can hear you from inside the womb
- you can start to bond with your baby even before they’re born
- Help your partner find time for daytime naps.
- Offer to clean the house or do other preparations for your new baby.
Late pregnancy can be very tiring and uncomfortable when you’re pregnant.
Your partner may:
You can help by:
- giving them a massage
- helping them to get comfortable
- being patient
During the birth, your role as a birth support partner is to give emotional and physical support and encouragement.
It’s a good idea to plan for the birth of your baby. Your partner will need your support and assistance on the big day.
Before the day
- Talk to other partners who have been a support person during labour and birth.
- Watch videos and read about what happens during labour and birth.
- Go to antenatal classes with your partner.
- Discuss the birth plan together so you understand what they want.
- Remember that this needs to be flexible.
- Make a plan for when your partner goes into labour.
- Find out the best way to get to the hospital.
- As the due date gets closer, make sure you have a hospital checklist. This will help you remember everything you need to take.
On the day
- Pack or check the hospital bag and be ready to go when the time is right.
- Help your partner to get more comfortable. Don't be surprised if they change their mind a lot about what they need!
- Give them a massage or organise a hot or cold pack.
- Remind your partner to breathe slowly. You can do this too. It will help you both to stay calm!
- You may need to talk to the midwives and doctors on your partner's behalf.
- You may be asked to cut the umbilical cord when your baby is born.
- You can bond with your baby straight away by giving them a cuddle on your skin.
Your feelings during the pregnancy
Some partners feel as though they are left out during the pregnancy. All the attention may go to your pregnant partner. You may feel that your partner is more interested in the baby than you.
Depression and anxiety
Partners can also experience depression and anxiety during pregnancy and early parenthood.
You might be going through hormonal changes and have disturbed sleep. If your or your partner have previously had depression or anxiety this could make it more likely to happen again. Having a new baby is a stressful time.
You might be finding it harder to cope if you have financial stress and changes to your work/life balance. If your friends have children, try talking to them for advice and ideas on dealing with the big changes that come as a new parent.
It’s important to look after yourself so you can look after your family. That means taking care of your own physical and mental health. Talking openly and honestly with your partner, family or friends can make a big difference. Speak up if you’re feeling upset, before your feelings build up.
To ease stress and tension, try:
- deep breathing
- muscle relaxation
If you feel that you’re getting angry, jealous or violent, speak to your doctor or call:
- Mensline Australia on 1300 78 99 78
- PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety And Depression Australia) on 1300 726 306
You can find more information about managing your emotional wellbeing on Beyond Blue’s Healthy Families website.
If you start thinking about suicide, call an ambulance on triple zero (000) or go to the emergency department.
Where to go for help and advice
Visit Mensline for more information on being a dad. They also offer support and counselling services on 1300 78 99 78.
Check out the Beyond Blue 'Dadvice’ website. Download the booklet: Emotional health and wellbeing: A guide for new dads, partners and other carers or call them on 1300 22 4636.
Lifeline offers telephone support to anyone in crisis on 13 11 14.
QLife offers anonymous peer support and referral for the sexually and gender-diverse community — call 1800 184 527 or access their webchat from 3pm to midnight every day.
Speak to a maternal child health nurse
Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.
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Last reviewed: January 2023