'Maybe joke less': 5 men on how to support your pregnant wife - and what not to say

PHOTO: Unsplash

Pregnancy is an exciting time but it’s also tough to be a pregnant woman. Your back aches, you’re gassy and nauseous, your ankles swell, you’re running to the bathroom multiple times a day, and your hormones are giving you both crazy mood swings and major cravings.

During this time, it’s safe to say that the support of your husband is incredibly important in relieving the anxiety and stress that comes with the physical and mental load of bringing a mini human being into the world.

The Weekly gets five dads and dads-to-be to share with us how men can contribute when their wives are expecting — and how it’s really not the best idea (not that it’s ever a good idea) to crack a joke about the way she looks.

Be the waterboy, read up on pregnancy, and think twice before letting any jokes fly

PHOTO: Faiq Zulkifli

Things not to say? Maybe joke less or not at all haha. I love to poke fun at things to make them less serious but these days, I find myself fighting hard to hold back the urge to do so.

For instance, I introduced her to one of my clients recently, who was dating a flight attendant. So I mentioned to him that my wife used to fly too, adding “Ya, you can’t tell right?” I was joking because obviously, she’s the most beautiful to me. But let’s just say that didn’t end too well.

I think that both of us are excited but also learning to accept that our life will change and the wild days are never going to be the same. When she’s tired, joking about things like, “Wow you used to be a lot more fun to be with” (in my head, again, I was obviously joking) definitely won’t go well with her. Anything about her appearance is a no-go, especially when she’s pregnant.

As for how to men can support their wives:

1. Reassurance: Always be there for them physically and vocally — remind them that you’re on this journey with them.

2. OB or prenatal appointments: Nothing can be more worth your time — MAKE THE TIME! It’s quite sad to see pregnant mums who are at the hospital going to their checkups alone. If you can’t make time now… what happens when the kid comes?

3. Be the waterboy: Imagine a football team, she is the whole damn team. You are the waterboy. Whatever she needs, you get it and get it fast.

4. Show interest: It’s a new experience for both, of course as it’s in her body she would spend more time learning about everything related to pregnancy. I find spending time with her looking at videos, reading articles about pregnancy, the baby’s growth and things to prep comforting for her and the both of us.

– Faiq Zulkifli, 28, father-to-be

ALSO READ: Resenting your partner after pregnancy? Here's why that's happening

Help her with moving around, and even dressing her

PHOTO: Jana Yar

1. Especially towards the end of the pregnancy, help support your wife physically as she will definitely have trouble moving about or getting out of bed. You may even have to help dress her, including wearing her pants and socks.

2. It’s very important to support your wife’s mental health, and to always keep communications open.

3. Feed your wife well but make sure she’s not going overboard as she will become overweight!

What not to say:
Never tell her she’s fat or ugly (even if hormones have taken over her face).

Jokes about her appearance. I coined her cankles ‘bonkles’ (from ‘bo ankles’, meaning no ankles in Hokkien), a joke when her ankles swelled, and it didn’t sit well.

– Nic Goh, 31, father of three

Manage chores around the house

PHOTO: Karen Fong

“I didn’t realise you were going to be so tired” was probably not the best thing to say to my wife now that she’s pregnant with our second child. Running after a very clingy young toddler and growing another human is hard work.

Help manage things around the house or just take over them if you can. I do the groceries, schedule our dinners and do the dishes (most of the time) so that she doesn’t have to worry about it.

Also just be supportive of any breakdowns or worries (however odd) they might be. My wife burst into tears worrying our hypothetical son would be short like her when she was pregnant with our first (daughter). The hormones are very real.

– Chris McDaid, 35, father of one, with a second child on the way

ALSO READ: Caring for 2 hearts: Experts talk about heart problems during pregnancy and how mums-to-be can stay healthy

Indulge her food cravings

PHOTO: Raymond Goh

Guys, get ready for frustration, fiery tempers, and a fair bit of crying. And that’s just you. She’ll also be angry and torpid, hungry and sad, happy and a little bit scary… and quite often, she’ll be all these things simultaneously.

As a coping mechanism, I just kept reminding myself that whatever curious food craving she has at 2am on a Tuesday night, I get to eat all that for supper too.

What not to say: Don’t jokingly ask: ‘How far apart are they?!’ just because you’ve heard it on TV countless times; especially if you don’t really know what it means. It’s funny in a sitcom — not so funny in her third trimester.

– Raymond Goh, father of one

"If you have nothing helpful to say, keep quiet."

 PHOTO: Alastair Tan

Be mindful of what she’s going through — the discomfort she’s feeling, her worries and fears about what’s going to happen, childbirth, breastfeeding and whether she will be a good mom, etc…

Basically the same worries you may have as a father. So don’t trivialise anything she says. Support her by looking at the positive. And watch your thoughts. If you have nothing helpful to say, keep quiet!

So skip comments like:
“Wah, your appetite is solid ah”
“Wah, you’re eating for twins/triplets”
“Why are you so sensitive?”
“How will you lose all this weight?”
“Don’t worry, all this will be over before you/we know it”
“Don’t worry/think/eat so much”
“Everything is about you and the baby, what about me?”
“Who’s going to do all the housework?”
“Are we ready to be parents? Will we be good parents?”

Keep your doubts and reservations to yourself. Wishful or wistful thinking isn’t useful. Any sort of thinking is not useful unless it’s to make her more comfortable and to better prepare her mentally and emotionally.

– Alastair Tan, 56, father of five

This article was first published in The Singapore Women's Weekly.