Pregnancy and Birth

6 Nurturing Tips for New Dads: Cherish Your Partner

There’s a saying that goes something like: “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!”

I used to think it was just a funny saying, until we had kids, and now I have seen the truth behind it.

When a woman is pregnant and her body is working overtime, she’ll love it if you take the time to nurture her. A lot of first-time fathers don’t fully understand the changes that are happening to their partner, and it can be tough to remember to take the time to nurture and embrace her. And it affects not only the family dynamic, but it also affects your personal relationship with her.

Picking up after yourself will help, but I’m really not talking about the house…

I’m talking about your partner and taking care of her needs.

6 Nurturing Tips for New Dads

1. Touch her. Give her a massage, even if you only have fifteen minutes. Starting with the neck and upper back, move to working on her hips and the back of the pelvis, and end with a foot rub. You don’t need massage experience for this, just some strong hands, some willingness, and some love. For extra points, heat some water for a foot bath, add a couple of drops of lavender oil, or rose petals if you’ve got them, and let her soak her feet while you listen to how her day went. If you listen to her, she’ll listen to you. It works both ways.

2. Make some pregnancy or nursing tea for her every day. She may enjoy a tea made from 1 part nettles, 1 part alfalfa, 2 parts raspberry leaf, and peppermint to taste (1/4 part). Let it steep for 10 minutes, strain and serve with honey. Make it a ritual, a way to connect with that little bean of yours growing inside her. The tea nurtures her body, and the act will nurture your relationship. Making that simple physical connection will also make it easier to share how our day went, which helps with keeping our mental and emotional connection stronger. When we don’t connect regularly, our relationships may suffer, and because having a new baby will bring a whole new twist on relating as a couple and then as parents, intentionally spending time together is a key part of keeping the love relationship alive as you also grow a family together.

3. Tell her she’s beautiful. Tell her you love her. Tell her that she’s radiant. Say thank you for being the mother of your child. You could even try to tell her that you like her outfit, but you’re on your own there… I think every woman wants to hear her lover tell her she’s beautiful, and by telling her that when she’s pregnant, you will do wonders for your relationship. Bearing a child and giving birth is also a rite of passage for a woman, and one that requires more than a fair bit of personal courage to go through, so she may also really want to hear how brave and courageous she is for becoming a mother and birthing her child.

4. Read the birth books and parenting and pregnancy books that she’s been reading, so you can be in the know about all of the changes that are a part of this miracle. I enjoyed reading Spiritual Midwifery, and found that I spent more time looking at the reference stuff in the back than the stories in the front. I wanted to know how it happened, and what and when to expect things during birth. I wanted details. My wife wanted to know experiences and feelings and stories. If you both read them, you’ll have a reference. You’ll speak the same language. And that’s a great place to be for any growing relationship.

5. Play together: Making time for play and togetherness can bring you closer together, or keep you close. Once you have a baby in the house, all semblance of ‘normalcy’ or adhering to a regular schedule goes out the window, so cultivating a shared connection before the baby is born is a good foundation for a healthy and happy relationship. It can be as simple as a checker or backgammon or card game, or it could include getting out of the house together to walk in the woods or have a picnic in the park or to meet up with some other folks for game night or dance lessons.

6. Encourage me-time: As much as a new father has on his plate once the baby arrives, it’s nothing compared to what a new mother experiences. For her, it’s a full-body, full contact experience that keeps her on her toes 24/7 with nursing and burping and changing and napping and nursing and burping and changing and napping and… So knowing that the baby will basically be connected to her body for the next several years, encouraging her to take time for herself – to get some me-time – both before and after the baby is born, will help her keep a much-needed balance in her life. Dads can help by encouraging and supporting their partners to get out and enjoy some alone-time before the birth. After the baby is born, dad can take notice of when baby is fed and full and sleepy and urge mom to take go take time for herself.

These are just six ideas, and I’m sure you’ll be able to come up with at least that many other ideas that would also help her to feel more nurtured and cherished. Putting some thought and heart and effort into trying to better your relationship, especially through pregnancy and birth, is a noble ideal, and one that can mean the difference between fighting and snuggling.

I’ve learned that it takes an effort for me to remember to do these things regularly, but when I do, it makes for a happy, peaceful house, pregnancy, and marriage. You might just want to put them on your work calendar, or email yourself, or put it on your to-do list: “Nurture the mother of my child. Next action: Make tea and give backrub.”

Show her that you cherish her every day, meet her needs, and you’ll find that your relationship will grow in richness and beauty.

[Image: David Terrazas]

Derek Markham

Things I dig include: simple living, natural fatherhood, attachment parenting, natural building, unassisted childbirth (homebirth), bicycles, permaculture, organic and biodynamic gardening, vegan peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips, bouldering, and the blues. Find me elsewhere at @NaturalPapa, @DerekMarkham, Google+, or RebelMouse.

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