Is your mate suffering from pregnancy brain? Here are tips from therapist Bruce Linton, MFT, Ph.D., on how to bring a dad-to-be back to his senses.
This is our second pregnancy, and my husband has been acting completely differently than he did the first time. He has never initiated contact to feel the baby move. He loves to buy things for the baby, but it's almost as if my pregnancy is an abstraction for him.
Dr. Linton's insight: The second time is a different experience for both of you. He's more relaxed and confident and sees your pregnancy as a more routine part of your lives at this point. So while he's thinking, "OK, I know what's going on, and it seems like we're doing fine," you still have anxieties and need just as much support from your husband as you did before. He may also be feeling overwhelmed about having another child when he's still getting adjusted to your first, and so it's coming off as disinterest. He probably doesn't realize how important his involvement and his touch are to you, so you need to communicate that.
The ideal response:
"I know how much you love our first child – and this baby needs just as much love and attention, even now." Then take his hand and place it on your belly. He'll get it and start doing it on his own.
My husband punched me in the back while we were sleeping – unconsciously, of course. He normally sleeps like a rock, but he has been talking and moving in his sleep a lot lately.
The ideal response:
Dr. Linton's insight: Obviously, if he hit you on purpose, you need to seek professional help immediately. But this sounds more like he's nervous and having anxious dreams. After all, it's his pregnancy, too. Plus, it's not easy sleeping with a pregnant woman! You're getting up constantly in the middle of the night to pee, which disrupts his ability to fall into a deep sleep. It's so important for couples to sleep together to stay connected and close, though, that I'd advise separate beds or sleeping in different rooms only as a last resort. You could try putting a pillow between your bodies, so you at least won't bump up against each other when you both toss and turn.
"You don't seem to be sleeping well. Is my moving around or getting up a lot affecting your sleep? Or are you feeling on edge? Let's talk about what might be bothering you and what we might be able to do to sleep better together."
My partner tries to limit everything I do. He tells me what to eat and drink – even how I should sleep. He won't have sex with me because he believes we'd be invading the baby's privacy. And every time I want to go upstairs, I have to wait for him because he fears I'm going to fall.
Dr. Linton's insight: Most often, no matter how strange the behavior, a dad's intentions are to help the mom, protect the pregnancy, and prepare for parenting. Your husband is being especially overprotective and hypervigilant, which makes you feel more like a porcelain doll than like the mother of his child. He needs a reality check. You should talk to your doctor or midwife to determine what's really risky behavior and what's not worth worrying about. Hearing firsthand from an expert may be all he needs to loosen up.
The ideal response:
"I appreciate your desire to take care of me, but I feel like a kept woman! I need you to be more relaxed with me. What do you think about talking over your concerns together with my doctor?"
My partner recently started forgetting to carry his cell phone. This makes me nervous because I've been having dreams about going into labor when he's nowhere to be found.
Dr. Linton's insight: Your real fear here is that he won't be there for you when you need him. He has a lot on his plate right now as he gets ready for the baby – he may be thinking about finances, how he's going to balance work and family, and how the baby is going to change your relationship. Sometimes when people feel overwhelmed or anxious, they forget where they put things ... keys, sunglasses. If it has happened a couple of times, it's not a concern, but if it becomes a five-times-a-week pattern, then you should talk.
The ideal response: "It may sound silly, but when you forget to take your cell phone with you, I get worried I won't be able to reach you. Why don't you try keeping your cell phone with your wallet and keys, so it's all right there for you to grab on your way out the door?"