A Man’s Guide to Pregnancy: How to Take Care of a Pregnant Wife

by Brett on March 13, 2011 · 125 comments

in Marriage, Relationships & Family

In today’s society, it’s easy to forget that there any major differences between the genders. Until your wife gets pregnant. Then the difference between the sexes will yawn like a great chasm before you. While your pregnant wife spends nine months growing a baby inside of her, you will be left to watch from the outside; after you’ve made your deposit, your role in the baby-making miracle is complete.

But while your biological contribution might be over, if you’re like me, you’ll still want to be part of the pregnancy process.

Being a pregnant wife is tough. Seeing what Kate went through to bring my progeny into the world certainly gave me a greater appreciation for her and for womankind in general. As a man I wanted to be there for Kate as much as possible while she cooked the Gus bun in her oven. I wanted her to be as happy and comfortable as possible, and I wanted to do whatever I could to help our little kiddo come out kicking and screaming like a champ.

A lot of guys find the pregnancy process a little bewildering. Not knowing what to do, they end up nervously backing away instead of stepping up the support when their women need them the most. So I decided to start a series for dads-to-be to discuss the ins and outs of this very cool but nerve-racking period in your life. Today, we’ll talk about how to take care of your pregnant wife . Then we’ll talk about how to get ready for the new arrival to come home, how to deliver a baby in an emegency (you never know!), and how to be an awesome coach during the birthing process.

How to Take Care of a Pregnant Wife

Respond appropriately to the news your wife is pregnant. If you weren’t planning on the arrival of a bundle of joy, make sure you don’t respond in a way that shows you’re not excited about the news. Inappropriate responses would include: breaking down and crying tears of agony, making a face of disgust, or asking why she wasn’t using her birth control. You want your wife to feel confident and secure that you’ll be there for her during these trying nine months and that you’re willing to step up and be a great dad.

Read some books on pregnancy. The more you know about what she’s going through, the better equipped you are to empathize and know how to help. There are hundreds of pregnancy books to choose from. What to Expect When You’re Expecting is a classic and guides you through what your wife is experiencing during each step of her pregnancy. They have a section dedicated just to dads that has a lot of useful information. It also lays out the development of your baby throughout his/her incubation. I thought it was kind of fun to check the book to see when Gus lost his vestigial tail or his eyes moved from the sides of his head to the front where they belong.

Accompany her to doctor’s appointments. This serves three purposes. First and most importantly, it shows your pregnant wife that you’re with her all the way in the pregnancy. Second, you’ll know exactly what’s going on with her pregnancy and will be better prepared to help her.  Pay close attention to what the doctor says at these visits. A woman’s memory takes a dive during pregnancy and she may be nervous and excited, so your wife might rely on you to remind her about which cheeses she’s not supposed to eat. Finally, seeing your baby’s picture, even when it looks like an indistinguishable lump, and hearing its heartbeat will help create a fetus/father bond. Even if you’re really busy at work or school, always make time for the doctor’s appointments.

Reduce her stress. Pregnancy is physically and emotionally demanding, so don’t burden your  pregnant wife with any unneeded pressure. Take on more of the household chores so your wife can rest.

Help her get some ZZZs. Sleeping will become a more and more uncomfortable as your wife gets further along in her pregnancy.  When women sleep on their back, the baby’s weight puts pressure on their spine, back muscles, intestines, and major blood vessels. All this can lead to pain, decreased circulation, and consequently trouble falling asleep. On top of that, the baby could be using your wife’s uterus as a punching bag right around bedtime. Try falling asleep when you’re getting punched and kicked from the inside. (Gus was super-active at nighttime when he was in the womb. Which didn’t make Kate very happy.)

There are a few things you can do to help your pregnant wife get some shuteye.

  • Get your wife a full body pillow. Pregnant woman are supposed to sleep on their side instead of on their back or stomach. A full body pillow makes side sleeping a bit more comfortable by helping support the back and cradling your wife’s belly.
  • Backrubs right before bed.
  • Herbal tea that relaxes the mind and body.
  • Cuddling
  • Sexy time.

Be patient. Pregnancy totally wreaks havoc on your wife’s hormones. Some days she’ll feel fantastic, some days she’ll bite your head off as soon as you open your mouth, and some days she’ll break down and cry for no reason at all. Be patient and recognize that it’s the hormones. Also, be understanding when it comes to your love life. Your wife’s sex drive will be all over the place during her pregnancy: often plummeting in the first trimester, bouncing back in the second and falling again in the third. Patience, friend, patience.

Handling frequent peeing. Pregnant women pee frequently. Very frequently. I’m talking every 30 minutes they’re making a run for the bathroom. It’s kind of funny, but put yourself in your wife’s shoes, and you’ll see just how much of an inconvenience it is. Imagine having to get up three times during a movie or several times in the middle of the night just to take a leak. Two things you can do to help your wife out in this area:

First, be understanding and accommodating. Don’t roll your eyes or grumble under your breath when your wife asks you to pull over into a gas station so she can go to the bathroom.

Second, keep her path to the bathroom clear so she doesn’t trip over anything during her night trips. Installing a night light in the hallway can be really helpful as well.

Act like you’re pregnant. No, I don’t mean you need to put on one of those ridiculous bodysuits that let men know what it feels like to be pregnant. Nor am I encouraging wild mood swings and consuming ice cream sprinkled with pickle juice. What I’m talking about here is adding or dropping the same habits your wife has to add or drop because she’s pregnant. It’s a way to show moral support and to help her follow doctor’s orders as closely as she can. So when your wife has to give up alcohol and coffee, become a teetotaler too (or at least don’t imbibe in front of her). Exercise is incredibly beneficial to mom and baby to be, so help her get in the habit by offering to go for a walk or to the gym together.

Tell her she’s beautiful and that you love her. Your wife will be undergoing some serious body transformations during pregnancy. Reassure her that you think she’s beautiful and that you love her immensely. Affirm your unwavering dedication to her each and every day.

Help her through morning sickness. Morning sickness is quite possibly the worst part of pregnancy (well, besides that whole labor thing). It strikes about 75 percent of all pregnant women. Symptoms of morning sickness include headaches, excessive sleepiness and of course feelings of nausea and sometimes vomiting. Most women will start feeling the symptoms of morning sickness about a month after conception, and it will typically last until the twelfth to fourteenth week of pregnancy. Some women will experience morning sickness their entire pregnancy.

Despite its name, morning sickness doesn’t happen only in the morning. Most women experience the symptoms of morning sickness all day long. When helping her through this rocky period, the key is to keep experimenting with different remedies. Introduce new treatments each day to see which work for her and which don’t. Be willing to make many trips, sometimes late at night, in search of something else to ease her troubles. Here are a few remedies that might do the trick:

  • Vitamin B6 supplements. Studies have shown that vitamin B6 supplements can alleviate the symptoms of morning sickness.
  • Seasickness bracelets. Seasickness bracelets are elastic bands with plastic bumps that apply pressure to points on the wrist. Supposedly this pressure can reduce the feelings of nausea.
  • Ginger ale. The fizziness of ginger ale or any other clear soda can help with nausea. And ginger has been shown to reduce the symptoms of morning sickness. So ginger ale is a winning combo. Most popular brands of ginger ale don’t have any real ginger in them; look for smaller, independent brands that still use the real McCoy.
  • Crackers. The problem with morning sickness is that your wife will not feel like eating much, but an empty stomach will only make the feelings of nausea worse. Crackers are easy on the stomach and can stave off the nausea that starts in the morning. Have her eat some before she even gets out of bed.
  • Ginger or peppermint tea. As with ginger, peppermint has been shown to help reduce the feelings of nausea associated with morning sickness.
  • Be flexible. Some foods will be totally unappetizing to your wife one day, and the next it will be the only thing that appeals to her. Be flexible and give her whatever her stomach will keep down. Be willing to run out and buy whatever she craves.
  • Keep yourself clean. Pregnant women become hypersensitive to smells. Even scents she once enjoyed can now start her stomach churning. So brush your teeth and shower daily, or she may not be able to stand having you around.

Keep an open door policy for venting. Pregnacy, especially for first time moms, can be a little scary. Women wonder if the baby is doing okay, what labor will be like, whether they’ll have to have a c-section, and whether they’ll be good at being a mom. Be willing to let your wife vent or cry whenever they need to, even if it’s in the middle of the night. If there’s something specific that’s worrying your wife, do some research so you can confidently tell her, “Those pains you’re experiencing are normal and do not mean you will give birth to a two-headed hydra baby.”

A Man’s Guide to Pregnancy Series:
How to Take Care of a Pregnant Wife
How to Deliver a Baby in a Pinch
Getting Ready for the Baby Bomb
Your Progeny Enters the World

That’s all the advice I can think of. Now it’s your turn. All you dad’s out there, what advice do you have on taking care of a pregnant wife? Share with us in the comments.

{ 125 comments… read them below or add one }

101 T.Y.K March 22, 2013 at 4:41 am

C.M.B. It’s not complicated, just have a good attitude. Think about how you would feel if you were your girlfriend, and be kind and considerate. It’s all about attitude.

102 FeatherBlade March 25, 2013 at 10:00 pm

C.M.B – your girlfriend “got pregnant”? All by herself?

A good first step would be to take responsibility for your part in her pregnancy. A good second step would be to coordinate with her and her parents on how you are going to support her during the pregnancy and after the kid is born.

You need to finish school and find work. If you have any interest in building trades, you can get paid apprenticeships and work that pays better than most anything that a college degree offers.

Time to step up and be a man. It’s a bit earlier than most of your peers, but men your age have been taking care of their women and children for millennia. You can do it.

103 Monet' June 29, 2013 at 11:46 pm

Ohh myy gosshh!! I’m super ecstatic to see all these men helping and caring about their partners! My husband and I, are expecting OUR first planned pregnancy! Im about 6wks… My son is 5, but had him before I met my husband… That pregnancy was sssooo awful!! I didn’t really know what it was like to have a fantastic pregnancy experience, until we found out I was pregnant a few weeks ago! He’s very attentive, treats me very special, gives me lots of cuddles and affection, rubs my belly, tells me how much he loves me and it’s okay that my body is changing, etc. I have $&#KING TERRIBLE morning sickness!! I can only keep down cold cut sandwiches from SUBWAY, and he goes and brings them home for me. I had none of this my 1st pregnancy, but at least I have it now! I love this article! Love and support really helps!! Makes me feel like I have the best husband ever and can depend on him for anything! ^_____^ #GoodLuckEveryone

104 MG September 1, 2013 at 9:57 am

I just found out yesterday that my wife is pregnant! I am super excited yet very nervous. Thanks for this article, it has helped my nerves a bit. Its time to put on the manly suit :D

105 Stephane September 3, 2013 at 4:36 pm

We just found out yesterday she is pregnant.. ill be doing more research.. but this was a good help. Thanks.. ill be back for more hints and tips.

106 Tim September 5, 2013 at 10:13 am

I just want to say thank you for writing this article. About a year ago I became a step father to my now fiancee’s son. Having a bad relationship with my father I was scared, but so far everyone tells me that I am doing a great job. But I just found out the obvious last night. And I am beyond scared I love her with all of my heart and I will be there every single day…I just want to say that I love the article, it puts my mind at ease. Thank you so much.

107 Kristina September 15, 2013 at 1:43 am

Ok, I almost feel like I’m intruding here but I just had to leave a comment. It’s 11:30 PM and I’m a pregnant woman. My fiance` is sleeping next to me but if this night is like any of the rest, I’ll probably be up for another 4 and a half hours before I can get comfortable. Anyway I stumbled upon this article and I have to say, it brought tears to my eyes. I guess it could be because my hormones are all over the place and I’m emotional but it was just nice to read what it could be like to be supported by a man. All this time I’ve felt like this pregnancy is mine alone to deal with. We conceived on birth control and he’s had no problems condemning me for “doing this to him.” Some days when he’s in a really good mood he’ll buy me food. But more than likely I’m giving him massages and footrubs before bed. Chores are so much harder for me and I usually have to run for the bucket 10-15 times a day. He hasn’t come with me to any appointments and just like his mother, they pretty much want me to “suck it up, it’s my fault.” I have hyperemesis gravidarum and if any of you are familiar with it you’ll know that the term ‘morning sickness’ simply does not do it justice. Anyway, sorry for venting so much. I just want you all to know that I’m very touched. It’s good to know there are men out there who choose to stand by and support their women through this unbe.lievable process. Your wives are extremely lucky.

108 Ben G September 16, 2013 at 2:44 pm

My wife is 29 weeks along and last Friday night after work I took her in to labor and delivery because she was having some major contractions in rapid succession (3 in about 7 minutes). We have an 18 month old little girl who we both adore, but I took her home, knowing that we didn’t have anything to keep her occupied, and it was getting late. Lucky for us my mother in law came and took the baby back to their house, (where she’ll be for at least a few more days) so I could go to the hospital. We went throught the whole magnesium sulfate thing, which wasn’t fun, and were told by the doctor that it was a good thing we came in when we did. They were able to get the contractions slowed down for the most part and sent her home on STRICT bed rest. I spent the night on that couch pull-out thing that passes for a bed, when I wasn’t sitting next to her, holding her hand or just holding her. Because of my work schedule I haven’t made it to every appointment, but I’ve only missed two.

There’s some extra stress with having an 18 month old around the house this time which has made my involvement all the more important. Those of you guys who think it’s unmanly to help out or take your wife to the doctor or hold her through the night while she goes through the side effects of medication are woefully mistaken. Believe me, it wasn’t exactly fun, and I have never met a man worth his salt who enjoyed seeing his girl in pain, but it was where I needed to be. She needs me, and I’m there for her, every time.

And for those of you who aren’t there for your wife, you might want to go back and watch that wedding video again. And when it gets to the part where YOU said “for better or for worse, in sickness, and in health” rewind it and watch it a few times, saying it out loud. Reaffirm your commitment to her. I know it can be tough on the man but it’s a lot harder on her. Cut her some slack, help her out. Because taking care of your woman is what a real man does, because it takes a real man.

109 KKB September 25, 2013 at 7:35 pm

My wife is pregnant with our 1sr and I went to some female friends and my sister for advice on how to be the best team player. Beside what’s listed here, they all suggested going out of the way to do extra. Bring her flowers if the smell does not kill her, check in on her more during the day. Even sappy or encouraging notes where she can find them. Hire a house cleaning service if you can afford it. Saying ‘I meant to’ does not cut it. I travel a lot so I had a gift basket of spa stuff delivered to her while I was away this last time and that was a huge hit with her and her friends and her mom. Bonus points for the thinking ahead apparently. It’s more manly to take care of your woman than to pound your chest and pretend that your main job is not to look after her and your kid provide for them and make that your very top priority.

110 ~Ry@n~ September 27, 2013 at 2:01 am

Hi I have a question for all the fathers(dads). I am new to this whole thing and need some advice, I feel as for two days we’re good no fight what do every but then the following two days suck! So I know i don;t treat her like shes s princess 100% of the time. But I want too, so my question is “How can I stop thinking about me so much and start focusing on the wife”?

111 NCD October 3, 2013 at 3:25 pm

Howdy Gents,
I am 28 and my wife of a year and half is 4 1/2 months pregnant. I am so excited but so overwhelmed too, its crazy, every day is a new adventure. I want to make everyday special, can you guys make some suggestions that haven’t been covered here? What did you guys do to help her feel special/comfortable?

112 gizachew October 26, 2013 at 10:47 am

I am 28 and my wife of a year 4week& 8 day pregenant. Her weight during this stage is 40kg she has no interest to eat. Due you to this she go to a health center but there is no any change yet.what shall i do??

113 Sean Maverick November 19, 2013 at 5:52 pm

There’s this girl ive know for awhile, shes 5 weeks pregnant, and the guy who got her pregnant isnt stepping up and take responsibility, so I took his place. I really care deeply for her, so Ill support her!
I had no idea what to do, but when I read this article,it made me more wiser and serious :) thank you!! :)

114 Cynthia Gabriel December 18, 2013 at 5:04 pm

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE when dads take their role seriously! Thank you!!! I am writing because of the WTEWYE reference. I’m so sad that that book is our culture’s birthing Bible! I know that not everyone wants a natural birth (research shows that it’s about a 60/40 split), but for those who want a natural birth there are LOTS of other books out there with better advice. If you want an epidural as soon as you get to the hospital, then WTEWYE is a perfectly fine guidebook. But “Natural Hospital Birth” or “The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth” are better fits for at least 60% of the population. :)

115 Diana December 23, 2013 at 12:13 pm

Im not even married and will probably not be having kids anytime soon, but I am so touched and impressed that men are willing to treat their wives with so much kindness. I am shocked to be honest to find guys who are so sweet. I only hope that my future husband will be as amazing as these men who commented.This has encouraged me alot. Thanks.

116 chigie December 24, 2013 at 12:05 am

i have seen now i have been selfish and less concerned. i guess i’d change my approach,reading this article this morning is a blessing. Thanks alot! I love my wife and i think she deserves so much attention.

117 Alex Cahan December 25, 2013 at 11:50 am

Clean the toilets. If she’s going to be hunched over one regularly it should at least be clean of the dried urine and hair that inevitably will be there. I firmly believe cleaning a toilet is the man’s job anyway because of this, but it is all the more important during pregnancy. The little things help.

118 Dan January 3, 2014 at 1:09 am

Thanks to all lovely posters for the extra bits of information on top of the already great article! I now have a long list of little things to do, and have already ordered a full body pregnancy pillow on ebay for $70. bargain. And called the local book shop – I can pick up the “Expecting” book tomorrow. sweet.

I’ve been an absolute selfish ass to my 1st time 10 weeks pregnant fiancé.

I’ve been seriously considering leaving her since we found out, and I’m sure my behaviour / words have given her this indication too. What an AS$!

I can only imagine, through reading all your posts (especially the women who have expressed their stories of being alone and treated badly) that my darling ‘little pod for baby peas’ has been going through hell for the last 10 weeks and I have turned completely away from her, and not shown a single bit of interest in our unborn child or my girl’s plight. Zero emotional or physical support. All because I have been thinking about me and how all the current and future changes are affecting me. I’ve been thinking about me only. Not her, or us, just me. Stupid.
So. Thank you everyone, because thanks to all your stories and this article, I’ve finally made my decision what to do, and it’s tipped me in the right direction and I have made the decision to turn it all around. Starting tonight when she gets home. She will once again be the centre of my attention and the love of my life, and I will stop being an AS$. As they say: Go hard or go home – and there’s no way I’m going home!

Can’t believe I let it get to this – talk about being inflexible. After reading all this, I’m ashamed at the level I’ve stooped to. Time to man-up.
Thanks again everyone, you’ve saved us! (All three of us!) Woo hoo! :))

119 sinneh njai sesay January 7, 2014 at 7:19 am

my wife is pregnant she doesn’t like to smile fried stew and even to eat more I need some help on that. please help out

120 Craig January 17, 2014 at 5:07 pm

Good article, well written and informative. The author has it spot-on. I’m going through my third pregnancy as a father, but my first with new partner, and she worries about everything. The key is to relax, and let nature take it’s course. Believe it or not, we’ve been doing this for thousands of years, and we’re still here. We managed without NHS hospitals, books, internet and the Daily Mail. We can still manage now. It’s the most natural thing in our lives, and it happens without any need for intervention.

121 AM February 6, 2014 at 2:22 pm

Reading this article and all the comments is a big help to know I am not alone in this stressful situation. My girlfriend is 8 weeks along, and we are still both struggling to accept the situation we got ourselves into. We are not in a particularly committed relationship and were contemplating breaking up before we found the news out. We have been contemplating abortion but that idea sounds so horrific we both cried when we read about it. I honestly believe it will traumatize my girlfriend for the rest of her life if she terminates her pregnancy.

We both have life plans that are going to be seriously disrupted by this pregnancy and I am scared that we are not right for each other as long-term partners. Neither of us think that marriage is a good idea for us and she has asked me to help her through this pregnancy and just take things one day at a time. I am trying to be as supportive as I absolutely can. I want her to feel like she can bring this baby to term and I will be there to support her every step along the way. I have stopped drinking, taken on her diet, I do nothing but go to work, the gym and stay home and try my best to look after her. I am trying to stay strong and calm and be a man, but I am sometimes crippled by stress when I look to the future, think of finances, and think about having two people completely dependent on me, as I am used to my bachelor life. I am also stressed that if we don’t work out, I will be in a nasty battle for custody.

Anyway, I have to always be mindful that all my worries and fears are magnified 10x for my girlfriend. She is so much more vulnerable in this situation – physically, financially, socially. I just need some help and support to do the right thing for her. I have no idea who to turn to as we are keeping this a secret from everyone we know. If anyone has any resources or advice, I’m all ears.

PS this article has been a big help.

122 swapna February 21, 2014 at 10:51 pm

You are a great husband! I salute you…

123 Narah Valenska Smith March 12, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Wow! Awesome write-up, even better responses! I am so glad that some of the men have understood their roles and that they are changing. Yay for you! For the ladies without support, my heart breaks for you. :-( If you need an ear or some encouragement, please feel free to connect with me. I am a mama of 2 who did both births naturally (even wrote 2 little books about it to support women – Childbirth Meditations series) and am happy to be there. Bests to all, Narah

124 william March 14, 2014 at 12:43 pm

well my wife and I don’t live near each other and this helped me a bit I talk to her as much as I can but I work and got to school she is due in April and her and I have talked about what we are going to do after she has the baby sadly we are young parents and if she gets kicked out we got no place to stay

125 Andrew April 1, 2014 at 3:51 pm

Gentlemen, thank you. My wife is 25 weeks pregnant and we have the emotional outbursts going on. My question is: is it ok to make a little light of the situation so as to not turn it into a big thing? I have read book after book, but fellow daddy-to-be advice is best it seems. I have taken over most of the chores ( she refuses to let me bake hahah) and I try to give her plenty of time in the evening to unwind and relax. Please HELP!

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