pregnancy

Anxiety, envy and everything in between: Four partners on pregnancy from their perspective.

From the moment of conception through to birth, pregnancy can be wonderful and terrifying at the same time.

For the partner who watches their loved one’s body grow and change while trying to do and say all the right things, it can be a hard balance to strike.

Mamamia talks to four partners about how they handled pregnancy and birth from their important support-act perspective.

David, father to Charlie (6) and Emika (2).

David had just graduated from university when wife Jess surprised him with the ‘gift’ of a positive pregnancy stick.

“I was ecstatic! We had been trying to conceive so we were thrilled to discover we were going to be parents for the first time.

“I watched in awe as Jess’ body changed and I loved feeling the baby moving around in her tummy. I felt envious that she got to have that experience.”

The pregnancy was not the easiest for Jess who suffered from morning sickness and towards the end, the pregnancy rash PUPPPs (Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy).

“By that stage, I felt quite anxious and as it was our first time, I wasn’t sure what to expect with the birth.”

Charlie was born in 2012 and David’s feelings for his son were never in doubt.

“As soon as I saw him I fell in love! I have never loved a bloke more and thinking about it now still makes me very emotional.”

His reaction at the gender reveal party for their second pregnancy took him by surprise.

“When we cut the cake to reveal pink for a girl, I was absolutely stoked. I had this sense of completeness for our family.”

After going through the private hospital system with Charlie, Jess and David decided on a home birth for baby Emika.

“Jess was a warrior and while my anxiety levels were higher with her giving birth at home in a pool, it was a really beautiful and positive experience.”

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David and Emika. Image: Supplied.
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David, Jess and Emika. Image: Supplied.

Ben, father to (as yet unnamed) newborn girl.

When Ben first found out wife Helen was pregnant, he was terrified.

“I had almost given up on the thought of having kids as I am over 40. I worried whether I would be a good father and felt generally scared about all the change that I knew was coming!”

Helen’s pregnancy was tough and it often left Ben feeling helpless.

She would vomit most days and her appetite disappeared so we were under a lot of stress.

“I also just felt really guilty and if I could have taken some of those symptoms away, I would have. I tried to help out practically and be supportive – cleaning up when she was sick.”

The couple attended a child birthing course over a weekend and while Helen did a breastfeeding class, Ben took a short course on fatherhood.

“It was mostly common-sense stuff, but it was good to be reminded how to be there for the new baby, while maintaining an honest and supportive relationship with your wife.”

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The birth was lengthy and ended with an assisted delivery.

“I hated seeing Helen in pain, knowing there was nothing I could medically do to help.

“After hours of labour, Helen was exhausted and while the doctors and nurses kept reassuring me that baby was okay, I kept thinking, ‘that’s great, but what about Helen?’”

“As soon as I saw my baby girl though, my eyes welled up. She is beautiful and I am so excited for our future as a family.”

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Ben and his baby girl. Image: Supplied.

Miriam, mother to Oliver (2).

Miriam experienced every emotion possible when she discovered her partner Kristy was pregnant in 2016.

“I was happy and excited about the future but also terrified as reality set in that we would have a real-life baby to be responsible for!”

During the pregnancy, Miriam felt plenty of anxiety but also a little strange as the non-pregnant partner in a same-sex relationship.

“It was weird at times not having the role that a woman typically would, so I busied myself reading and making heaps of notes about birthing and breastfeeding to help Kristy when the time came. I really didn’t want to let her down, but I think I actually drove her a little crazy!”

“I was obsessed with making the nursery look good as I knew we would have no time after he was born.

“We also attended a very helpful ‘Calm Birth’ course. It was practical and science-based and it taught me a lot about what to expect. I felt much more capable.”

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As the labour got underway, Miriam was in her element.

“I was calm and it felt good to be able to help Kristy with breathing and staying comfortable.

“When Oliver eventually arrived I just froze in shock! I enjoyed cutting the umbilical cord, it made me feel part of it all.

“One thing I didn’t expect was how it made me question whether or not I would ever want to be in Kristy’s position and give birth!”

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Kristy, Miriam and Oliver. Image: Supplied.

Paul, father to Oli (2).

After wife Melinda became pregnant a lot faster than expected, Paul’s first emotion was one of shock.

“I had always wanted a family but assumed it would take a while, so we were surprised when Mel quickly fell pregnant.

“I was really happy and relaxed along the way; her pregnancy was uneventful.

“We both went along to a midwife-led birthing and parenting course, which was useful and I really loved that whole period.

“I remember Mel saying she just felt ‘really loved’ while she was pregnant, because she did!"

By the time the birth began, Paul’s relaxed demeanour was put the test.

“I work as a nurse on a surgical ward so I'm not afraid of the sight of blood, but I could see Mel’s discomfort and it made me realise how vulnerable women giving birth are.

“I tried to rest during early labour when the midwife sent me home, but I couldn’t sleep. I was so relieved and emotional when Oli was born that I fell asleep giving him a cuddle.”

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Paul, Melinda and Oliver. Image: Supplied.

How did your partner handle pregnancy and birth? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Been listening to our co-listening podcast for parents and kids, That’s Incredible? Tell us what you think.

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