A To Z of Comfort Measures For Labor: U is for Understand

Coparenting With Expectations

When Two Become Three, Or More

We all know that things change when you enter into a long-term romantic partnership. You went from eating ice cream for dinner to having a conversation with your partner about what you both want to eat for dinner. Parenting is a lot like that.

As individuals, we all have different expectations on what pregnancy, birth, and parenting is really going to look like. It’s almost like we have a fairy tale image in our heads of what it’s supposed to be. Even if you and your partner have the same vibe when it comes to your expectations, your expectations are different.

The person who is carrying the baby obviously feels different than her partner, but you both have a lot of feelings. You both have different roles. Both roles are important.

Expectations For Pregnancy, Birth, And Parenting

In pregnancy, a woman may have the expectation that her life is going to go on the same while she is growing a baby. She expects to be glowing and progressively growing a bump seamlessly while her partner expects the same. But what happens if the partner is under a lot of pressure at work, while their partner needs to be put on bed rest due to a sudden medical development? Or what happens when the person you love is suddenly crying and you can’t figure out why? What if your relationship becomes strained by the change of having a baby? What if your physical needs or abilities change, or emotions are flying everywhere?

What if during labor the laboring woman has an idea of how her partner can support her in labor, but she never talked about it? What if her partner wants to support her, but doesn’t know how?

What if the mother doesn’t want to breastfeed, but her partner firmly believes she should?  Does her partner know where their opinion comes from? Does the partner know how to support the breastfeeding relationship? Is the mother triggered by breastfeeding and it would really be better for the whole family for her to formula feed?

There are so many “what ifs” that can occur in pregnancy, labor, postpartum recovery, and parenting. And it’s honestly impossible to prepare for them all. But if the lines of communication are open, it becomes easier to understand your partner and yourself and to overcome any obstacles or choices that stand in your way.

Talk To Your Partner

Ask your partner if you can speak to them in a focused setting. Some people can only do one thing at a time. You may feel frustrated if you feel like  them washing dishes seems more important to them than listening to you in the moment.

Tell your partner what you need. Even if you can finish each other’s sentences, your partner isn’t a mind reader.

Schedule a date, a lunch, or a childbirth class, or laying around in bed to talk about your needs and expectations.

Compliment your partner constantly. There’s a lot of rough patches in your journey together. Mix some good in with the not so fun stuff. Tell her that she looks amazing. Play in her unbrushed hair. Tell your partner that you really appreciate their 2am trick to the gas station to get your snickers. Or that you love how hard the other one works.

Listen To Your Partner

Actively listen to your partner. Ask them how their day was, even if you think yours was way better or worse.

Sometimes an ear or a cuddle is all your partner needs to make problems go away.

Honor your partner if they need time alone to watch a show, read a book, or take a nap. (Pregnant people are tired, in case you haven’t figured that out yet.)

Support that each person has a role in not only their life, but also in your life, their work life, and in the role of being a parent to your baby.