Your girlfriends jumped for joy when you told them your good news, so why did your partner barely look up from the newspaper? Men don't always react to pregnancy the way women do. While many are over-the-moon excited, particularly if the pregnancy is planned and happily anticipated, others are flooded with worries. The best way to help your partner feel more comfortable about your pregnancy is to understand that men and women often look at pregnancy differently. Don't criticize him if he doesn't react the way you think he should. Give him space to experience the pregnancy in his own way. There are often legitimate reasons for men's reactions; for example, consider the following:
- Men can't experience the pregnancy the way you do. Sure, the man contributes half of the conception equation, but after supplying the sperm, the man's body is no longer part of the pregnancy. Both physically and emotionally you will feel more, from morning sickness and labor pains to first kicks and hiccups. Because of this, your partner may feel less attached to the pregnancy than you do, especially before you start to show. He may also feel left out because everyone is paying attention to you.
- Men worry, even if they don't tell you. Even if your partner doesn't mention it, he may be worrying about what pregnancy will do to your lives. He may feel anxious about upcoming expenses, your health insurance coverage, the pain that you'll feel during pregnancy or delivery, what life will be like with three rather than two, and the effects of pregnancy on your sex life. If you are planning to quit your job to stay home with your baby, he may feel more pressure because he'll be the sole breadwinner.
- Men question what type of dad they'll be. For some men, fatherhood is something they have looked forward to for years and feel well equipped to handle. Others may feel apprehensive. If a man was abused, abandoned, bullied, or ignored by his father, he may wonder whether he can be a good father to his child. He may fear that he will make the same mistakes his father made. Talk with him about his worries. Reassure him that you will work together to solve problems and that he'll most likely be an excellent father, even if his own father wasn't.
If you find that pregnancy brings up issues that are too difficult for the two of you to handle on your own, talk with a social worker, marital counselor, or therapist. It's best to tackle these issues now, because after your baby is born, you?ll have less time and energy to focus on each other.
Originally published in You & Your Baby: Pregnancy.
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