How to help your husband prepare for a new baby

Congratulations, you're going to have a baby! This is an incredibly happy time for you, so why doesn't your partner seem as excited? It may be that he is excited, but also nervous and overwhelmed.

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  • Congratulations, you're going to have a baby! This is an incredibly happy time for you, so why doesn't your partner seem as excited? It may be that he is excited, but also nervous and overwhelmed. Here are some ways you can help your partner feel involved, bond with your baby and get excited.

  • Know your partner

  • Everyone copes with change in their own way. Think back on other times your partner has dealt with a major life change. How did he cope then? Did he need some space to process his feelings? Or did he go into hyperdrive organizing and trying to fix everything? It's reasonable to expect that he will handle your pregnancy in a similar way, so use past experience as a guide and give him space to deal with this in his own way. It will take some patience and self control on your part, but in the long run you will be glad you didn't force things.

  • Be a facilitator

  • Bonding is usually easier and more natural for the mother during pregnancy because the baby is with you all the time. Some effort might be involved in getting your partner to bond with your baby. Truthfully, the level of joy and excitement you are feeling right now might not come to your partner until there is an actual baby in his arms, but do what you can to help him get excited and feel involved. I knew my husband wouldn't read the weekly pregnancy email I had signed up for, but he did like to hear about how big our baby was that week or what part of him was developing. Whatever part of your pregnancy is interesting to your partner, give him the chance to be involved in that area.

  • Be clear about what you need

  • Throughout your pregnancy and after the baby comes you are going to need your partner to help you. Make sure that he knows what your needs are and how he can help. Make it specific. Instead of, "Can you clean up the house?" try, "Will you load the dishwasher?" And remember that even if he doesn't do it exactly the same way you would, this is a great time to practice letting go of the little things — you'll have to do a lot more of that once the baby comes. Just thank him nicely and move on.

  • Sneak it in

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  • When I was pregnant I loved to watch YouTube videos of babies being born and as the birth got closer I started to notice my husband paying more attention to what I was watching. He would ask questions and I would point out what stage of labor the mother was in and how you could tell. This was educational for him and also gave him an opening to express his concerns about the birth. Ask him to come to a class with you, tell him one interesting thing you're learning about childcare everyday, or maybe highlight a few relevant sections in your favorite birth book. You may find that he wants to know what's going on and be involved but he's too overwhelmed and doesn't know where to start.

  • You have nine months to prepare, and a lifetime to nurture this child after that — so remember there is time for your partner to become as excited as you are. If he's not picking out cribs and buying tiny baby socks, give him time. Respect how he's feeling right now, but give him as many opportunities as you can to grow.

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Melissa Spencer practices being a wife, mother and homemaker. She plans to get good at two of the three eventually.

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