You’d think that a first pregnancy would be a fairly simple thing to conceal over the first few weeks of the nine-month odyssey.
But you’d be wrong.
With no baby bump in sight at week eight, no one would ever guess that there’s a blueberry-sized person inside any given pregnant woman, multiplying by 100 cells per minute.
So what, besides the desire to share a secret, is so hard about keeping an early-stage pregnancy on the down low? Two words: morning sickness. Or, as it should be named in some cases, forever sickness. I don’t know how women do it. The struggle is real—and to be quite honest, awe inspiring.
When a woman is dealing with morning sickness, what can the proud papa do to help?
Dad, here are 6 ways you can help ease your partner’s discomfort:
1. Appreciate what she’s going through + listen with an open heart.
Her body has been growing and nurturing a tiny person from scratch. Her entire being is now focusing its energy and nutrition on the act of creation. There’s no denying it: Pregnant women are ballers.
Let her know that although you may not be able to relate directly, you appreciate what she is going through. Tell her she’s amazing, listen to her vent—be her emotional crutch if she needs one.
Google was invented for a reason. Google the heck out of the subject in search of remedies and see what you come up with. For example, maybe she can eat something to settle her stomach before she gets out of bed in the morning. Present a morning buffet line of foods for her—saltines, celery and peanut butter, bread, bagels and more. Almost every morning, a menu item that previously did the trick is deemed unworthy. (Don’t be discouraged! Keep trying different options.)
This is one of the most vital times outside of the delivery room when you, as the dad, can provide support during pregnancy—even if all you can do is rub her upset stomach or give her crushed ice, which really does help alleviate nausea.
3. Pack her snacks for the day.
A care package of food for her morning commute can make her trip more bearable. It’s important for her to eat frequently throughout the day, so these snacks could be tremendously helpful.
She has a lot on her to-do list and is expending lots of energy trying not to puke in public. She’s taking one for the team in a BIG way—so anything you can do to be helpful, you should probably do.
4. Be empathetic.
You want more than anything to ease her discomfort, but there’s little you can do besides obtaining more foods that solve her short-term problems until they eventually turn on her and join the steadily growing reject pile. The feeling of helplessness when someone you love so much is struggling is a tough pill to swallow.
Understand that this is really hard for her. Continue to think of ways you can be helpful. Pay attention.
5. Seek help from her medical provider.
Of course we’re grateful to our wives for the incredible sacrifice they’re making, but we can also be glad for modern medicine. For example, Diclegis—a combination of vitamin B6 and doxylamine—may work for her.
Let her know that it’s okay to seek medical help, and it doesn’t mean she is failing or weak.
6. Be aware of how it’s helping you bond.
The opportunity to step outside of your own needs and put your partner’s needs first will make your marriage stronger and no doubt help prepare you for that glorious day when the new human she is working so singlehandedly to protect is finally out and about—and relying on you two for everything.