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Your Partner's Emotional Journey

You've been grappling with the reality of pregnancy for many weeks now, filled with excitement, worn out by fatigue and morning sickness, supported by cheerleading friends and family members. But it may have taken until this trimester -- when your pregnant belly is starting to pop out -- to shock your partner into truly understanding that (soon!) there is a baby coming.

Your partner's emotional adjustment to your pregnancy will be similar to your own, marked by the same highs and lows that you've experienced in the past few months. For instance, many partners are so astounded by the physical changes brought on by pregnancy that they're alternately horrified and fascinated, especially when the baby's movements become visible. You may find that he has a newfound respect for you because of the many hardships youve endured so far.

Your blossoming body is no libido buster for your partner. In fact like most partners, yours may be excited by the changes in your pregnant body, even the seemingly unattractive changes such as bigger hips, dimpled thighs, and the new pregnancy posture you may adopt to balance your growing belly. Thanks to you (and the baby), your partner may start to form new ideas about what's beautiful and sexy in a woman.

However, if your partner has problems adjusting to the pregnancy, talk things out now, before baby's arrival makes your relationship even bumpier. It's possible that he's feeling left out, because so far the spotlight has been mainly on you. As your focus turns inward toward your new baby, he may be sadly anticipating that you'll be giving him the cold shoulder for the rest of your days together. Ease his fears by including him in the pregnancy. Make a point of enjoying activities together that are not all about the baby.

Your partner may also suddenly be seized by anxiety about how you're going to pony up the cost of raising a child. While you're feeling energetic enough to look at cribs and strollers and curtains in your 2nd trimester, your partner may fret about every expense and throw himself into work more than ever before. If you want your partner to be home more, ask him, because it won't be obvious to him that you need him there. If you want your partner to feel less insecure about money, work out a budget that details how you're going to cover expenses after the baby comes. This is especially important if either one of you is planning to take an unpaid work leave after the birth.

Your partner may also be worrying about how well he's going to handle the whole fatherhood thing, especially if he came from a family without a strong father figure or if he's never accrued any babysitting hours and hasn't a clue how to diaper a baby or how to hold one. Reassure him that you're in this thing together and that the two of you will work as a team to provide a loving home for this new life you're creating together.

Finally, give him time to bond with the baby. Tell him what a wonderful father he's going to be and why you think so. Encourage him to touch your belly and to talk or sing to your growing child. Before long he'll be looking forward to holding that baby in his arms as much as you are.

Originally published in You & Your Baby: Pregnancy.

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