Most husbands find pregnancy a little bewildering, and not knowing what to do, they end up backing away instead of stepping up to support when their wife needs them the most.
In his essay Psychology Today, Dr. Paul Joannides breaks down the psychology of first-time dads-to-be. He explains how it is a little more complicated than just assuming that you simply chose the wrong partner for producing a child with, as dads-to-be also experience their pregnancy-related emotions that are seldom discussed.
In this article, we will look into reasons why your husband comes out to be insensitive during your most trying time and ways to help them help you wade through the pregnancy waters.
Reasons for husband insensitiveness during pregnancy
A few questions may pop up in a pregnant woman’s mind, like why is he ignoring me? Is there something wrong? Is he unhappy with our soon-to-be addition? This leading to a common question; Why is he being insensitive when I am pregnant?
The reasons that may make your husband come across as insensitive during your pregnancy include…
- Traumatic birth. He may have experienced your previous pregnancies or birth as difficult based on what you went through, whether it was postnatal depression or any other kind of problem.
- Rejection. They may perhaps translate your preoccupation with the baby as you not loving them as much as you did before.
- New responsibilities. They feel ill-prepared for taking on increased responsibility for the other children for whatever reason be it work, health or finances.
- Confusion. They may be simply completely at a loss of how to be a father, especially if they grew up without a father and this is their first child.
- Fear and worry. They fear having to compete with the child for your attention and worry that they know nothing about pregnancy if this is their first child and that their ignorance will be discovered.
- Stress. If your husband has work or family-related stress.
- Illness. If your husband has a medical condition like Obsessive-Compulsive disorder and can’t cope with the additional discomfort of having a child disrupt their routines and rituals, it limits his ability to be there for you.
- Anxiety. The soon-to-be dad may be having anxiety about the baby’s arrival, especially if it is a first baby. The soon-to-be mama may also be having anxiety leading to perceived reasons of feeling neglected.
- Misconception. If you let the media, family, or people around you influence your thinking into believing that your husband is not doing enough.
- Comparing. When you start to compare your husband’s way of supporting your pregnancy with that of a neighbor or family member’s spouse.
- Depression. Prenatal depression may manifest with you feeling neglected by your spouse and this can only be diagnosed by your doctor.
- If you start to feel neglected or perceived to be neglected by your spouse without any proper reasoning for your husband’s behavior.
- Unavoidable circumstances that currently need his hands-on attention.
Why is it important to support your partner through pregnancy?
As researchers have pointed out the mental health of a pregnant woman has a direct impact on the health of the unborn baby. For example, a study published in the Journal of Women’s Health found that women who did not receive their husband’s support during pregnancy reported high levels of depression and anxiety.
These women were likely to indulge in smoking and this led researchers to conclude that having a husband who is supportive through pregnancy could be fundamental to the health of the woman along with the growing fetus.
Soon to be dads: How to help and what not to say during pregnancy
Once you understand the root cause of your insensitivity problem during your wife’s pregnancy, you should take steps to address it. Below are simple and implementable steps to help you step up and be the husband your partner needs during her pregnancy journey.
Respond appropriately to the news of your wife’s pregnancy
Make sure you don’t respond in a way that shows you aren’t excited about the news such as breaking down with tears of agony, making a face of disgust, or asking why she was not using birth control if you weren’t planning for a baby.
Assure your wife that you are in this together and make her feel confident and secure that you’ll be there through those tying nine months and that you are willing to step up and be a great dad and husband.
Read some books on pregnancy
What To Expect When You’re Expecting is a classical guide to help you through what your wife is experiencing during each step of her pregnancy. It has a section dedicated just to dads or husbands with a lot of useful information.
The more you know and learn about what she is going through the better equipped you are to understand and know how to help and be supportive.
Accompany her to the doctor’s appointments
Always make time for the doctor’s appointment no matter how busy you are with work or school, as this serves three purposes. It shows your wife you are with her through the pregnancy, and it also allows you to know what exactly is going on with her pregnancy, and you’ll be better equipped to help her.
It will also help you create a bond with your unborn baby by seeing their picture, even if it is still just a distinguishable lump. While at these visits, pay attention to what the doctor says as a woman’s memory takes a nosedive during pregnancy, and she may need to rely on the husband to remind her about the doctor’s instructions.
Help her get some sleep
When a pregnant woman sleeps on her back, the fetus’s weight puts pressure on their spine, back muscles, intestines, and major blood vessels and this will make sleeping more and more uncomfortable as your wife gets further along in the pregnancy.
All these can lead to pain and decreased circulation. You can help your pregnant wife get some shuteye by
- Getting your wife a full-body pillow that makes side sleeping a bit more comfortable.
- Offer to rub her back before bed.
- Offer her herbal tea that relaxes the body and mind.
Handling frequent peeing
I mean pregnant women make a run for the bathroom every 30 minutes. They pee very frequently and it is so much of an inconvenience. Avoid rolling your eyes or grumbling under your breath when asked to pull over on the sides of a busy but bushy highway so she can go to the bathroom.
At home, keep her way to the bathroom clear so she doesn’t trip over anything during her numerous night trips. Being understanding and accommodating and installing a night lamp in the hallway can be of great help to her as well.
Help her through the morning sickness
Besides the whole labor thing, morning sickness is probably the worst part of pregnancy that strikes about 75% of all pregnant women with some experiencing it through their entire pregnancy.
When helping her through this rocky patch, the key is to keep experimenting with different remedies by introducing new treatments each day to see which works for her. This may involve many trips, sometimes late into the night, searching for something else to ease her troubles.
Tips to involve your partner when you are expecting a baby
Remember your husband can not read your mind and he may not know how to handle the situation, so together with these vital steps below to get your partner to open up about their reasons for apparently being insensitive whilst you are pregnant, draft a list of specific measurable tasks to make it easier for your husband to know what to do and feel involved.
Listen intently with respect
Allow your husband space and time to express how they’re truly feeling about the baby situation and while at it, aim to discover your husband’s real cause of apparent displeasure as it may not be what he says it is or he might just be completely freaked out about the whole baby thing.
There may be an underlying, undisclosed, unresolved problem especially if there is absolutely no logical sense to his arguments. Don’t fill in the silences and don’t start blaming and judging as your husband may just not be seeing it as cool to discuss his fears now that you are more in need.
Hold your husband accountable
State clearly and firmly that they are soon becoming a parent whether or not they are prepared for it or even like the idea. Make it an adult-to-adult conversation even if it means writing your husband a letter to pass your point across.
See the letter as an opportunity to hold your husband to account without resorting to blaming him for everything and calling him names. In the letter, show your curiosity about his reasons for the distance and offer an honest chance to talk about his view of the pregnancy.
Share your needs, wants, and worries
Ask your husband to listen to your worries without interrupting and express how you are feeling and what you truly need and ideally want and involve him in making decisions of how you can both help each other transition through the pregnancy period.
Pregnancy is an exciting yet scary time on the best of days for both parties involved while companionship is all about care and respect when it comes to bearing your child and you are supposed to take care of your wife and her needs. While you might be doing that in your best possible way, to your wife you might still come off as unsupportive because of the hormonal imbalance involved.
You might think that as the husband, you are giving your best by looking for the best hospital possible and applying for your child’s insurance policy according to the societal role assigned to you but think about it, ignoring your wife’s all other struggles during this time might bring more harm than good. Remember to talk and explain your reservations as it might not be as dramatic as you think it is to avoid coming out as heartless as it appears.