Friday, December 30, 2011

How To Help Your Wife Get Through The First Trimester

As I sit here, I'm 10 weeks, 5 days pregnant, which means my first trimester is blessedly coming to a close. In case I haven't mentioned it before, I have the most awesome husband in the world. Since this is our third pregnancy, and we've been married for close to 8 years, we've learned to communicate well. But I know that many couples are going through pregnancy who might not have the best communication skills, and they don't have the years of marriage under their belt that we do. I remember what it was like during my first pregnancy, and so I wanted to write this article for all you husbands out there who desperately want to help your wife in her first trimester, but really have no idea what to do. Here's what you need to know:

#1: We're crabby. 
Do not take this personally. It's not that you're the problem, per se. It's just that you're the most likely one to get dumped on during this time. Is it an underlying resentment because you played your part in our situation, but you get none of the somewhat unpleasant physical side effects? Maybe. But more likely it's just horomones. So how should you handle your wife during this time?

BE A SAINT. Don't argue with us. Consider us "right" for the next 9 months, and your life will go much more smoothly. Oh, and don't constantly ask us what's wrong or ask us why we're mad. There's a fine line between irritating us and showing genuine concern.

#2: We're nauseated.
You know that feeling you have when you realize you're about to experience the stomach virus? You know how crappy you feel? You know how all you want to do is lie down and not be talked to or bothered until you're back to normal? Okay, that's the entire first trimester for some women. Add into the mix that we realize we're also supposed to be eating the healthiest, most nutritious food for our growing baby. Think about how guilty we feel downing that milkshake instead of an organic spinach salad with walnuts and raspberry vinaigrette!

#3: We're worried about gaining weight
I'm convinced that every woman freaks out about weight gain. In pregnancy, you're actually doing the right thing by gaining weight. Even if your woman had no body image issues before, she probably does now. Here are things not to do:
  • Do not joke about her getting fat.
  • Do not say anything to the effect of "honey, you might want to stop gaining so fast."
  • Do not say anything to the effect of, "Wow! You're doing a great job putting on the pounds!"
  • Do not pretend you can't reach around her waist anymore. That's never funny.
  • Do not talk about women at work who are losing massive amounts of weight. 
  • Do not talk about other pregnant women who aren't gaining much weight at all. 
  • Do not talk about how she's going to lose the weight after she has the baby, unless she specifically brings this up, in which case you should listen to what she says, and then tell her the weight will come off after she has the baby and that you don't even care how much she gains. Go even further and tell her how proud you are of her, of how she's doing this awesome thing by carrying your child.
In fact, it's a good idea to basically not acknowledge that she's gaining any weight at all. You should know that the average weight gain for women is between 25 and 65 pounds. More than likely she'll go from worrying about not gaining enough to worrying about gaining way too much. Your job is to not make an issue out of it.

#3: We're exhausted.
Even though we haven't gained a lot of weight at this point, and our bellies aren't huge, we are exhausted. It's the hormones. Don't comment on this. Just accept that we're exhausted.

#4: We feel gross
So to recap: we feel tired, fat, pukey, and irritated. Overall, we just feel gross. We don't feel very feminine. Add to that the fact that our hormones are taking us for an emotional roller coaster ride, and you have a very delicate situation on your hands. As the husband, it's your duty to make us feel good about ourselves. Here are some things you can do to help:
  • Make her dinner (and breakfast, and lunch, if possible.) "Morning sickness" can stick with a woman all day long. Usually, a lack of eating makes it worse. The problem is that it also grosses us out to cook. So, take over the kitchen duties for now. Which leads us to...
  • Clean the kitchen and do the dishes. Your wife's nose is about a billion times more sensitive to smells. In fact, if you could also help out with the rest of the housework, you'll earn serious brownie points.
  • Encourage your wife. Say sweet things for no reason, even if she's being quite the hormonal nightmare.
  • Make sure she gets plenty of rest. This is especially true if you already have kids. Tell her you've got the kids while she takes a bath, or chills out by herself, or takes a walk. (Warning: don't suggest the walk, or she might think you're saying she's fat. I'm really not joking.)
  • Give her massages. (This is not just a first trimester thing.)
  • Realize that financial security is more important to her right now. Don't go around being irresponsible with your money. If you're not already, get on a budget and stick with it.
  • Don't talk about other women. Period. 
The good news is, the hardest part of pregnancy is the first trimester. Once your wife gets past the 12 week mark (give or take a week or two!), she'll feel more like a human being, and things will get easier.

All you ladies who have been or currently are pregnant: What are some things that you really appreciated when you were pregnant? Do you have any words of wisdom to share with any husbands who might be reading this?

1 comment:

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