Your journey to parenthood

Your journey to parenthood

You and your partner will do similar things to prepare to parent your newborn. However, you probably won't do these things at the same time. At the beginning of the pregnancy, there is the first excitement or shock. Then, you may not think about the pregnancy all the time. However, your partner will. Your partner's fatigue and discomforts are a constant reminder. Learning the gender of your baby may also affect the two of you differently.

Because the pregnancy is happening in your partner's body, they are likely to focus on some issues before you do. An example is when you start to turn inward and explore how you want to parent.

For you, it may not start until you can feel your baby's kicks. Your partner is likely to have started weeks before. This difference can cause your partner to worry that you aren't interested in your baby. Be patient with their concerns.

As you start thinking about how you want to parent your baby, you will think about how you were parented. There will be things your parents did that you will want to do, too. There will be other things you won't. There may even be some things you have vowed never to do. Many expectant parents feel it's helpful to talk with their own families. Many find it helpful to talk with other expectant and new parents.

One puzzling thing can be your partner's concern about your interest in and acceptance of your baby. Your partner may spend time worrying about and planning how their baby will fit into the family.

To help reassure your partner:

  • Set aside time each week to talk about the pregnancy and your baby.
  • Read books on babies and parenting.
  • Go through a book of names and talk about your baby's name.
  • Tell your partner the things about them that will make them a great parent and let your partner do the same for you.
  • Be part of the decision of who will be your baby's health care provider.
  • Consider babysitting for a friend or relative and practice your caregiving skills.

Try not to wonder silently what your partner needs. It's OK to ask. Listen to your partner's suggestions.

Try not to worry privately about your performance as a parent. Share what you are thinking and feeling with your partner — they are probably thinking the same thing about being a parent.

Talking things over will help your partner know you are involved with the pregnancy and are looking forward to the birth of your baby, even if you feel you don't have all the answers right now.

Try asking these questions:

  • What have we learned from past experiences with babies?
  • How do we want to learn more about babies and parenting?
  • How can we simplify our life during the first weeks after our baby is born?
  • How much time do you want to take off from work?
  • How much time would you like me to take off?
  • What if I'm not very good at diapering, burping or putting our baby to sleep?
  • Can you think of some things I could do now during pregnancy that could really help you?
  • Whom do we want to be present at the birth?
  • Can you help me think of some things I can take on after the baby is born that would be especially important and helpful?
  • Whom do we want to help us after our baby is born?

Connecting with your baby

There are things you can do during pregnancy to help you feel more connected to your baby:

  • Go to an ultrasound appointment so that you can see your baby on the computer screen.
  • Talk and sing to your developing baby. That way your baby will recognize your voice at birth. Your baby will turn toward you when they hear you.
  • Stroke your baby by gently rubbing your partner's belly. Later in the pregnancy you will be able to stroke your baby's foot or hand when it pushes your partner's belly outward.
  • Write a letter, song or poem for your baby.
  • Build or make something for your baby.

Source: Allina Health Patient Education, Beginnings: Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond, eighth edition, ob-ah-90026
First Published: 10/04/2002
Last Reviewed: 12/06/2021