Communicate. Discuss how you feel about your changing body, your hormonal roller coaster, and your expectations of your pregnancy. Let go of the fears of not being understood or related to. Be direct with what you need. Every individual and every pregnancy is different. However, allow your partner the opportunity to validate these needs. The more opportunities you provide for him/her to empathize and relate, the closer you will feel to one another. Whether it's a simple request, such as a hug or a physical task or prepare a meal. It doesn’t matter how small or big your request is. What matters is talking about it.
Make Decisions Together. Include one another in the process. Register together. 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 registry to your family’s preferences. You can even do registries in-store for some quality time together.
There will be decisions that you definitely want to make together such as the baby’s name. In other decision-making matters, let go a little. Let your partner make a few decisions of their own (even if you aren’t the biggest fan). If your partner is genuinely excited about a specific toy or outfit, or even the paint color for the nursery… treasure their involvement. The red/orange walls may end up being an endearing reminder of their excitement for the once, highly anticipated arrival of your baby.
Prepare a meal together. One of our favorite nights of the week is hibachi night! There is something so relaxing about cooking. Set aside your worries and stresses of pregnancy and parenting and just be together in the kitchen or on the back patio grilling. The kitchen is often close quarters so take advantage of the opportunity to brush shoulders as you walk past your partner, or hug one another as you stir the simmering food.
Run errands together. Let’s face it - errand runs are monotonous and we often dread carving out time to get them done during the week. Why not ask for a little company to make the experience more enjoyable? Have a grocery list that must be tackled? Do it together. Need to pick up a prescription? Turn it into an outing. Got a gift that you need to mail for your best friend’s birthday? Grab your partner’s hand and head to the post office. Going on errand runs together gives you an opportunity to steal moments throughout the week. It’s a chance to catch up on what you both have done during the week and what you are looking forward to next week.
Date each other. Don’t let the dating come to a halt. When we got married, the officiant told us to always date each other, so we still do date nights as often as we can. 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 lunch, 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.
*Suggestions: Get dressed up! Make new memories by going to a new restaurant. Instead of the theater try a drive-in movie instead. Take a walk in a new part of town/park. Check out Groupon deals for new date ideas.
Get away while you still can. Plan a romantic getaway before baby makes a trip for two a lot trickier, and if you plan to fly during your pregnancy just get the okay from your doctor before you hit the open skies.
Disconnect to connect. Schedule some time together during the week and turn off all of your devices. When you do so, you are making a conscious decision to connect with your partner. You are prioritizing time with your partner over checking out the newest posts on social media, giving your relationship a much-needed boost. Want to make it extra special? Talk about why you love your partner and what you are looking forward to as you welcome your new baby.
Learn together. Throwing a pregnancy book at your partner, demanding they download an app or signing them up to week-by-week pregnancy emails is not the best way to inspire the non-pregnant partner to understand the full extent of the change pregnancy brings. While pregnant individuals like to know every detail, from the size of the embryo through to what the linea nigra really is, your partner may not be as interested as you are – and that’s OK!
Some partners actually like talking to a baby bump and of course feeling or seeing a baby kick is also a thrill. Some partners may prefer to engage in more hands-on experiences of pregnancy, like going to your medical appointments together (and allowing them to ask questions, too) or starting prenatal classes to understand birth.
One of the best bonding moments is that all-important first ultrasound. There’s nothing quite like seeing your unborn child on an ultrasound for the very first time, with a heartbeat coming over the sound system to make the pregnancy real for both you and your partner (even if your baby does look like a Jack O’Lantern rather than a child on that ultrasound).
Helping your partner understand the type of birth you want and explaining how they can help you is also a beautiful way to connect. You might want more from your partner than driving you to the hospital/birthing center and holding your hand during labor, so make it clear in advance of the big birth-day. If doulas, massages, birthing playlists and essential oils are on your birth plan, then you need to have your partner prepped in advance so they can help make your wishes real.
Choose each other. Although pregnancy does occur solely in the pregnant individuals body, you and your partner have entered into a sort of lifelong contract together. No matter what happens, you are now connected. For eighteen years minimum. The wonderful journeys of pregnancy and raising your child will be a lot easier hand-in-hand. Choose each other. Prioritize each other. Support each other.
Go to bed at the same time. Pregnancy can often throw off your sleeping schedule. Try aligning your sleeping habits in order to stay connected to your partner. Go to bed at the same time as your partner. That time at the end of the night will turn out to be the most cherished time. Belly massages, feet rubs, 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 and enjoy it together.
Love one another. 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. 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.
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.
Bottom Line. Building and maintaining togetherness, communication, and intimacy during pregnancy can lead to positive memories of the pregnancy and a satisfying delivery. Try to connect whenever possible, even on your busiest days. A “just thinking of you” call can go a long way and also serves as a way to build up excitement for when you can connect in-person. Happy Connecting!