Articles on stress and pregnancy will typically focus only on the women and any advice for men will tend to say things like ‘just suck it up’. The woman is the one who is going through the intense physical and mental changes and who mustn’t be made stressed and so the guy should just do everything he can to keep her happy at all times… right? If the guys think they deserve sympathy, then they should try carrying an extra nine pounds around with them.
And other comments of that nature…
Only for a guy who is perhaps dealing with a depressed wife, the fear of being an imminent father and the strain of doing all the work around the house on top of his normal job, this advice isn’t particularly helpful.
This lack of help or advice for men can actually be highly destructive and lead to a lot of problems for the man, the woman and the unborn child.
Why Pregnancy Is Challenging for Men
What’s important to recognize is that stress is a big problem for men during a pregnancy too. Men who struggle with feelings of stress shouldn’t feel guilty for not being tougher and they should recognize that they are facing a valid issue of their own.
Not only can it be very difficult to live with a partner who is irrational and perhaps even spiteful (different women will react differently to hormonal changes) but you’ll also have to take on much more responsibility and work and deal with the emotional impact of becoming a father. Many men will do everything they can to help their partners, meaning that they do all the chores around the house, give up their favorite activities and generally put their partner first in every way. This then means their evenings – which maybe used to be the time they would relax after a stressful day’s work – is now spent doing chores.
Stress Management Tips for Men
With this in mind, stress and pregnancy are also a very real challenge for men. The following advice can help many men who are struggling to manage stress during their partner’s pregnancy.
Come Up With a Routine
If you’re struggling under the weight of your new chores, try coming up with a routine to help. You might have to make a few compromises but if you’re strategic you should be able to fit a food shop and house clean in around your normal activities and there may still be some tasks that your partner can do that are low-stress and not too physical.
Looking After Yourself
Make sure that you take some time to look after your mental health too – as apart from anything else your mental state will be contagious and affect your partner’s. Take time off of work if you need it, avoid taking on more stress or more responsibilities (talk to your boss if necessary) and look after your health as an absolute priority.
Put Yourself First Occasionally
Likewise, while you should do everything you can to help your partner – this shouldn’t come at the expense of your own happiness. If you are constantly passive and apologetic you may find that you actually frustrate her more.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can never agree with your partner or do anything to upset her. You should give her the benefit of the doubt a little more regularly and try to be the ‘bigger man’ on more occasions but remember she may not always be thinking rationally. If she is struggling with her hormonal changes then nothing you can do is going to keep her completely calm and you shouldn’t beat yourself up every time she gets a little bit annoyed (it would take a lot for this to lead to damage to the baby). Be fair, compassionate and kind but don’t think that means you have to constantly bury your head in the sand. If she’s being unreasonable – tell her.
Finally, make certain that you are taking lots of breaks from the constant stress you might be experiencing. It may be that you can’t get the calm and respite you need at home in which case you should find another way to ‘blow off steam’ away from your partner. This could mean going to the gym twice a week (preferably one with a sauna) or it could mean just going out with friends for a drink every now and then. Don’t ‘abandon’ your partner by any means but do consider that both of you might benefit from a little time apart.
You can also consider taking a break together. A ‘babymoon’ is the name of a holiday that a pregnant couple go on in order to get some alone time prior to the birth of their child. This can be a great way to remove the other sources of stress and to concentrate on being together and enjoying each other’s company.
The trick to a successful babymoon is to go at a time when you’ll really appreciate the break but not so late that the mother will struggle to enjoy herself. Likewise, you should make sure that you aren’t travelling too far as this can be difficult during pregnancy.
Overall then, there are several things that guys can do to help when they are facing stress and pregnancy. Most important of all though is to acknowledge when you’re struggling and to find ways to manage that stress. While the woman should of course take priority during a pregnancy, your mental health is also important and if you don’t look after yourself then you’ll find it actually affects her as well.