How to Support Your Partner During Pregnancy

Partners supporting each other during pregnancy

Verywell / Catherine Song

Congrats! You and your partner are expecting a baby. Pregnancy is one of the most exciting and joyful times in life, but it can also be one of the most stressful. Your pregnant partner will be experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions—not to mention an intense storm of physical changes as their body changes to accommodate their growing baby.

You may be wondering what your role will be in all of this, what the most vital things to know about pregnancy are, and whether you will know how to be the supportive partner you want to be.

Here’s a bit of good news: Just asking these questions is a step in the right direction. Being a good partner during pregnancy starts with setting the intention to give it your all.

After that, it’s all about learning as much as you can about pregnancy and birth, participating in the process as much as possible, being a good listener—and of course, always being willing to run out to get your partner whatever strange food they’re craving, whatever time of day it is. Pickles and ice cream, anyone?

Why Supportive Partners Are Important

These days, a pregnant woman’s partner is expected to be more involved than ever before. No more smoking cigars in the waiting room while your partner is busy bringing your new child into the world.

Of course, you might not be the one to gestate and birth your child, but there are so many ways you can get involved. And here’s the best part: your involvement can have positive effects not just on your relationship with your partner, but on the overall health and well-being of your partner and expectant child.

Numerous studies have shown the importance of partner support during pregnancy and the impact it can have on the mental and physical health of pregnant women and their babies.

For example, a study published in the Journal of Women’s Health found that women who did not receive partner support during pregnancy reported higher levels of anxiety and depression and were more likely to smoke. This led the researchers to conclude that having a partner who was supportive could be fundamental to the health of pregnant women, along with their growing fetuses.

“Partner support may be an important and potentially modifiable target for interventions to improve pregnancy outcomes,” the researchers concluded.

Another study, published in the Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine, looked at the impact partner emotional and financial support had on mothers’ “perceived stress” during pregnancy. Having an emotionally involved and financially supportive partner was “significantly correlated” with decreased stress levels among mothers. Additionally, partners' participation in prenatal appointments was strongly linked to decreased stress levels among moms.

As the researchers point out, the mental health of moms has a direct impact on the health of the expectant baby. “Stress perceived by mothers during pregnancy,” write the study researchers, “can lead to adverse pregnancy outcomes threatening mother and child's physical and mental health.”

How Can Partners Provide Support?

Many partners clearly want to support their pregnant partners, but feel unsure of how to go about it. They may feel unsure of what their partner really wants or needs, and what the best way is to get involved.

First of all, it never hurts to ask. Forming open lines of communication with your partner about what their needs are during each stage of pregnancy is one of the first steps you can take as you start to think about supporting your partner.

Simply saying, “I am here to help you with whatever you need,” can work wonders in terms of de-stressing your partner and making them feel more confident in the role you are going to play over the next nine months, and beyond.

4 Partner Support Tips

Educate Yourself

Knowledge is power, and the more you learn about what is happening in your partner’s changing body, how it may affect their emotional and physical states, and what sorts of challenges they may be facing, the better you can help and support them. The same goes for the healthy development of your baby and how to prepare for childbirth and postpartum. These are things that should be as much on your radar as they are on your partner’s.

Some excellent resources to guide you as you learn include:

  • Pregnancy books: Good, old-fashioned pregnancy books that you can check out of the library or buy at a bookstore are fantastic resources. They often have detailed illustrations or photos about pregnancy, along with helpful week-by-week details.
  • Childbirth classes, childbirth educators, and your partner’s healthcare provider: Childbirth educators know almost everything there is to know about pregnancy and birth; you can attend a group class, or even a private class. You can also reach out to your partner’s healthcare provider with any questions or concerns.
  • A Partner's Guide to Pregnancy, from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), is a simple guide to what is happening to your partner’s body during pregnancy, how you can help guide them toward healthier habits, and what you can do to support them.
  • Other new parents: Have a friend who just had a baby? You’d be surprised about how willing new parents are to talk about all the challenges (and joys) they faced. They will be the ones willing to tell you all the stuff that can’t be found in books.

Get Involved

One of the main ways to show support is simply to show up. Go to any and all medical appointments your partner has. Participate in decisions about what prenatal tests you may want to participate in, which healthcare provider makes the most sense for your family, and where to give birth. Go any birthing or baby classes you decide to take as well.

Talk and Share

Open communication is where it’s at when it comes to partner support. You want your partner to feel like they can share whatever is on their mind, even the hard stuff.

Pregnancy can bring up all kinds of emotions, it can trigger painful memories, and it can unleash feelings of self-doubt and fear. If your partner can trust that you will listen to their feelings with an open mind and that nothing is off-limits, you will be able to provide the emotional support your partner needs.

Ask The Right Questions

You can’t be expected to know everything your partner needs at any given time. Don’t be afraid to ask what you can do for your partner. Really, there will be a ton of things you can pitch in with, from scheduling doctor’s appointments to giving them back-rubs, to cooking their favorite healthy meal.

At the same time, you don’t want to place the burden on your partner and expect them to be the one responsible for telling you exactly what to do each step of the way. Part of being a supportive partner is taking your own proactive steps in supporting your partner. That’s why educating yourself about pregnancy and what your partner may be facing is important.

Trimester by Trimester Breakdown of Partner Support

Pregnancy can be a bit of a wild ride, if only because everything seems to change so quickly. One month your partner will not be able to touch anything besides white bread and ginger ale. The next month, they'll want to be devouring everything in sight.

Here’s what to expect from one trimester to the next—all the way the birth of your baby.

First Trimester

Physical Support: The first trimester can be very physically demanding for your partner. Even though they don’t “look” pregnant yet, significant hormonal and physical changes are happening in their body. They may be exhausted, nauseous, dizzy and may even vomit (maybe a lot!). They will also likely have a very different palate than usual. Certain foods will make them gag, and they may crave foods they never have before.

Your job here is to pamper your partner as much as possible. Let them sleep in, nap on weekends, and definitely don’t eat anything around them that will make them gag or vomit. At times, your job may also be to bring them a barf bucket. Remember that these weeks can be very intense, but will be over before you both know it.

Emotional Support: As your partner faces the changes in their body, their identity, and the rush of hormones of the first trimester, you can expect moodiness along with some depressed and anxious feelings. Usually all your partner needs is a good, non-judgmental ear and lots of extra love.

If you think your partner is experiencing signs of depression or anxiety that are interfering with her ability to function, they might be battling prenatal depression. You can encourage them to talk to their doctor about treatment options.

Second Trimester

Physical Support: The second trimester is usually considered the honeymoon period of pregnancy. Usually, the icky feelings of the first trimester have passed (though some moms experience nausea for most of their pregnancies, unfortunately) and your partner’s growing body has not become too uncomfortable yet. This is also the trimester that moms tend to have the biggest appetites.

Your top job now may be to feed your partner. Late-night trips to the grocery store for special cravings might become routine. The second trimester is a good time to help your partner adopt healthy eating and lifestyle habits. Making it a combined effort can help. You can adopt the healthy habits right along with your partner: start cooking healthier meals for them, go on walks together, abstain from smoking and drinking, etc.

Emotional Support: Usually, at this point, your partner is feeling happy and excited that they are getting closer to meeting their baby. At the same time, they may be feeling overwhelmed by her mounting to-do list, her possible upcoming baby shower, and the big 20-week sonogram that is fast approaching. Participating in all the planning as well as the upcoming events can make a huge difference to her. Remember, this isn’t just her pregnancy and baby: it’s yours too.

Third Trimester

Physical Support: The third trimester is when things may start to get physically uncomfortable again for your partner. The weight of her growing baby can really take its toll. They may experience backaches, a kind of nerve pain called sciatica, round ligament pain, and even non-labor inducing contractions called Braxton Hicks contractions. They may also experience foot swelling and heartburn.

Giving your partner lots of time to stay off their feet will do them a world a good. You can start taking over more of the housework now, too. You may also want to learn a few pregnancy massage techniques, which you can even employ during labor and delivery.

Emotional Support: Now is the time to prepare for your baby’s upcoming birth, which can be exciting and also very stressful. Prenatal visits will become much more frequent; now is the time to make these a priority if you haven’t already. There will be many questions you both have as labor and delivery draws nearer.

Now is also a good time to be an active listener, as your partner will have naturally have fears about birth and postpartum. They may also feel extra stress about preparing for the baby, and making sure they have everything they need. Again, showing up, taking the time to listen—and running around town to pick up any last-minute items—are some excellent things to do right now.

Sex During Pregnancy

It’s common to have questions about sex with your partner during pregnancy. You should know that unless your partner’s healthcare provider says otherwise, sex during pregnancy is perfectly safe. However, there are a few things to keep in mind about it, because it will be different now.

  • Certain positions may be uncomfortable for your partner as their body changes; go gently, and have patience as you experiment with what feels best to you both.
  • There may be times where your partner craves more sex, but there may be times when they simply have no interest. Don’t take this personally: it is very common for pregnancy to change your partner’s interest.
  • If you are feeling unsure of what your partner does or doesn’t want sexually, just ask them. Now is a great opportunity to discuss sex in an open-minded way, and to become more in tune with your partner’s preferences.
  • If you are concerned about your partner’s lack of interest in sex, keep in mind that this is very common for some women as the pregnancy progresses, and usually resolves once the baby arrives (or is at least a few months old!). Like everything else, pregnancy and postpartum is a season in life and passes and changes like everything else.

A Word from Verywell

Keep in mind that support people need to take care of themselves too. It can be wearying and emotionally taxing to give and give to your partner. So make sure to practice self-care as you journey through this pregnancy with your partner.

Pregnancy is a time for your partner to take care of her emotional needs, to make sure they are eating healthy foods, getting exercise, and making sure to abstain from unhealthy habits like drinking and smoking. This can be an opportunity for you to do the same, all of which can give you stamina to be the strong, emotional partner you need to be now.

Most importantly, if you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or depressed, you should know that you are not alone, and help is out there should you need it. Share how you are feeling with your partner, friends, and family. You may also consider reaching out to a counselor, therapist, or your healthcare provider for further steps to tend to your mental and emotional wellness.

Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  • A Partner's Guide to Pregnancy. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Updated May 2016.

  • Cheng E. The influence of antenatal partner support on pregnancy outcomes. J Womens Health. 2016 Jul;25(7):672-9. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2015.5462.

  • Kashanian M. Woman's perceived stress during pregnancy; stressors and pregnancy adverse outcomes. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2019 Apr 8:1-9. doi: 10.1080/14767058.2019.1602600.

By Wendy Wisner
Wendy Wisner is a lactation consultant and writer covering maternal/child health, parenting, general health and wellness, and mental health. She has worked with breastfeeding parents for over a decade, and is a mom to two boys.