In a perfect world, every woman would have a caring and supportive partner who has her back through the ups and downs of pregnancy. Unfortunately, some expectant moms — both married and otherwise — are shocked and disturbed by how inconsiderate, seemingly uncaring, and selfish their partners become after planned conception.
While one would assume that this means that they simply chose the wrong partner for producing a child, it’s actually a little more complicated than that. Dr. Paul Joannides explains it best in his essay for Psychology Today where he breaks down the psychology of first-time dads-to-be.
“Dads-to-be experience their own pregnancy-related emotions that are seldom discussed. Fortunately, we have the research of James Herzog to provide valuable insights into the emotions of dads-to-be. According to Dr. Herzog, dads-to-be often fall into two groups: those whom he calls more attuned, and those whom he describes as being less attuned, “Dr, Joannides shares. “While pregnancy will often spur a man from the more-attuned group onto a path of personal growth, men in the less-attuned group tend to feel threatened and not particularly fortified by a partner’s pregnancy.” Joannides also adds that the path that each father chooses to take is often, but not always, linked to “the influence of his own father or father substitutes when he was growing up.”
The great news is that most dads snap out of this funk by the time the baby is born, however, nine months of pregnancy is an extremely long haul that can be made more challenging by a partner who is physically and emotionally unsupportive.
Take care of yourself
First and foremost, whatever you need to do to ensure that your physical and emotional needs are met in a healthy way, do that. If there has ever been a time that you needed to put yourself first, now is definitely one of them. Rest when your body tells you to. If you need to call in sick from work, do so and don’t feel guilty about it. Recognize your physical and mental limitations and respect them.
Get in touch with a counselor or therapist
Unfortunately, the effects of having an unsupportive partner during pregnancy can be much deeper than annoyance and hurt feelings. According to a piece from Time, stress stemming from an unsupportive or ambivalent father-to-be can yield negative consequences for the health of an expectant mother as well as her unborn child.
A study conducted by BMC Health found that a pregnant woman’s concerns about her relationship with her partner have been strongly correlated with maternal depression. Worse, maternal distress has been linked to health complications for fetuses. For this reason, it is extremely important for moms to connect with qualified mental health professionals.
“Failure to recognize and treat emotional distress during pregnancy stores up problems for both mother and child, and impacts continuing family welfare,” explained Gun-Mette Røsand of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, who co-authored the study. “It is important that antenatal courses should include relationship classes and that close attention should be paid to women who lack the support of a good relationship.”
Surround yourself with positivity
It’s extremely easy to dwell on your partner’s less-than-stellar behavior when you’re carrying their child. However, as much as humanly possible, try to surround yourself with positivity and the things that bring you joy.
It’s extremely unfortunate that some partners check out during pregnancy, but it’s a reality for many. To get through this difficult time, it can be helpful to lean on relatives and loved ones who are able to step up, show support, and help out in areas where your partner is falling short. You may tell yourself that it’s not their responsibility to do x, y, or z, and while true, it doesn’t mean that the people who love and care for you won’t gladly step in to do it anyway.