Pregnant with children: how men can take the pressure off

Father of three Chris Pavey shares his tips to help your partner through a second pregnancy while caring for a toddler.

When you’re caring for a young child or children and you’re expecting another it can have a big impact on the whole family. For dads it can be daunting trying to understand when and how to help. But there is plenty dads can do to help ease the pressure.

Do the grocery shopping

Online shopping is a great solution if you’re organised, but it’s not for everyone. When my wife fell pregnant for a second time, I took on the grocery shopping. It was one less physical and mental task she needed to worry about, and it helped especially as the pregnancy entered its final months.

  • Make a list or ask your partner to make one (it saves time and decision-making on the fly).
  • Walk up and down every aisle. It stops you missing things on your list, means no backtracking, and helps you pick up things you might have forgotten to put down on the list.
  • Pick up a coffee (or tea) for yourself and your partner (and perhaps a healthy treat for the kids) on the way home. A small gesture like this can go a long way.

Become your toddler’s friend

Being a parent is the most important role you will fulfill for your child, but when mum is pregnant, this is the time to focus on also being their friend. You and he/she are in foreign territory.

It’s an exciting, strange and scary time. Both of you are going to have to share mum with another child, one that you both can’t even see yet. Talk with your child and share your excitement with them. 

Find ways that both you and your toddler can help make mum feel better. Share your sadness when mum is not able to do things for you both like she normally would. Find ways you can both help each other instead. And do things with just the two of you. By travelling the journey with them as their friend it may not feel like such a lonely experience for them, or for you.

  • Share day care, kinder and activity drop off and pickups as much and as often as you can. That’s when the lifting, straining and rushing can happen for pregnant mums.
  • Get out of the house, just you and your toddler, as often as possible. It gives mum an hour here or there to take a rest, maybe get some things done, and gives you some invaluable one-on-one time with your child.
Dad and toddler

Do the lifting as much and as often as you can

While your child is going to need mum as much as ever, you can help with the lifting. If they’re asking to be picked up by mum, jump in and pick them up rather than forcing mum to have to say no she can’t. Give them a cuddle and if they’d still like a mummy cuddle, try a group hug. If you have to hand them over, at least mum hasn’t had to pick them up from ground level.

  • When you are around, become the designated lifter. This includes getting your children in and out of the car, in and out of their high chair, change table duty, etc. It’s also a huge help to do be the one to come down to their level for those tasks like bathing, brushing teeth and tucking into bed.

Take on a few extra chores

In our household we split the chores 50:50, but when my wife was pregnant with our third, I took on a few of the extra more physically demanding ones; especially those evening ones when we’re all a bit too tired. 

We made sure the washing machine was on first thing in the morning so I could hang it out before I headed to work and I brought it in once I got home. I took on the dinner cooking and concentrated on doing the vacuuming on the weekend. Every little bit helps and makes the joy of having a second child all that more enjoyable for everyone. 

  • When your partner is pregnant, there will be some things physically more difficult for her to do, so pick those ones up, and have her pick up some of your less demanding chores to even things out. It’s a re-shuffle, not a redistribution.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for family support. Having Nanna or Grandma come over and cook dinner for you all once a week gives everyone a break and allows them to be part of this experience too. 
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