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How to Be a Supportive Partner During Pregnancy (and Beyond)

Thank you to the New York Times for sharing new research on how to be a supportive partner during pregnancy and beyond and debunking some outdated archetypes! “What comprises a supportive partner has only come into focus in recent years, as fathers and same-sex partners have become more central to the birth and all that comes after. But the research is resoundingly clear: A strong mate makes a difference.”

While the scientific literature on how to be a supportive partner may be unclear, researchers have shared some strategies that translate into real-world advice:

  1. Connect with each other well before the due date. Understand your emotional needs and provide validation and support.
  2. Make your good intentions known. Even when an expectant mother merely perceives that she has a supportive partner, she’s more likely to come through pregnancy happy and healthy, research shows
  3. Take a birthing class — but be open-minded when the day arrives. Avoid rigid thinking about how birth was supposed to go, and instead help the mother roll with whatever’s happening and support her choices along the way.
  4. Have a plan for the weeks after the baby arrives but be flexible. Draw up an action plan, committing to executing certain helpful tasks. Revisit the plan anytime based on whatever challenges you might face at each stage of your baby’s life. It’s O.K. to ask for extra support from friends and family.
  5. Know your role with feeding. If your partner chooses to breastfeed, learning how breastfeeding works and providing encouragement can provide significant improvements. If a partner chooses not to or cannot breastfeed, learn the formula feeding basics.
  6. Expect that your sex life will change — for a while, at least. The temperature to be dialed down in the marital bed post-birth for a duration that depends on the circumstances of the delivery but it’s important to maintain strong emotional connection and lines of communication.
  7. Looks for signs of your own stress, and act on them. If you feel yourself struggling with depression and or anxiety, let your partner know. It may require more than a hug or sage words of advice. Seek professional help from your physician or counselor.